Series Preview: New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins

Marc Serota

The Marlins are in town. You know what that means, right? Neither do we.

What's going on with the Marlins?

The last time the Mets and the Marlins played, it was the end of July and both teams were coming off stretches of surprisingly good play. Although, like today, Miami and New York were both out of the playoff picture, there were at least fun stats to point to that portrayed the clubs as the best in the National League East since some time in mid-June.

Those times of plenty have long left us, and what we have now are a couple of teams playing out the stretch and trying their best to not make the Nationals feel too good about their miracle playoff chances. Remember, if we let those Nationals get their hopes up, they're just going to get into a heated series at the end of the month in which someone will inevitably hit Bryce Harper with a pitch for no reason.

Speaking of stupid things happening for no reason, Jose Fernandez just pitched a gem in his last start of the season, hit a home run, and started a brawl with the Braves. He might be my new hero. At least until Harper finally beats the crap out of Cole Hamels when Captain California hits him again next season. Can't wait!

Who are these guys?

Adeiny Hechavarria, when ranked by games played in the 2013 season, is the best player on the Marlins roster. With 131 games played he has displayed great durability this season! Unfortunately, when ranked by fWAR, Hechavarria is one of the worst players in baseball at -1.9 wins above repalcement. Yikes. Not only is the 24-year-old rookie hitting just .227/.266/.299 (.269 BABIP), but his fielding and baserunning are rated quite low as well. The awfulness of Hechavarria is up for debate, because he is generally considered a good defensive player by people who watch Marlins games. However, to stick with the team in the future, he's going to need to hit at least a little bit.

Ed Lucas is a "good story" because he's 31 years old and a rookie in the major leagues! It's like that Disney movie except Lucas has a wRC+ of 67. Happy ending, though: Lucas's defense (per FanGraphs) lifts him above replacement level, which means the Marlins are better off using him than some other oldish rookie who's maybe only 28 years old. The point is, the Marlins have a lot of room for improvement in the future. Plus, they have exciting young players like Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick in the majors right now! I wrote about both players the last time the Mets played Miami.

Who's on the mound?

Friday: Brad Hand vs. Jon Niese

Hand hasn't started a major league game since 2011, and that probably has something to do with him averaging almost five walks per nine innings at Triple-A this season. He does have some things going for him, though. Hand is left-handed, only 23 years old, and has shown the ability to strike out a batter per inning in the minors. In order to avoid becoming a career left-handed specialist, he's going to need to reel in the walks and prove he can strike out batters in the majors. Meanwhile, Niese has been "meh" in his two September starts after an incredible August spurt. Let's hope he can get back to being awesome against a lousy Marlins lineup.

Saturday, Game 1: Henderson Alvarez vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Gross. Do we really need to watch another Matsuzaka start? He was actually pretty decent during his last outing in Cleveland with six strikeouts, three walks, and one run allowed in 5.2 innings. Still, he threw 103 pitches and is generally just a drag on the mound. Opposing Matsuzaka on Saturday afternoon will be Alvarez, who has been a pretty solid ground ball machine for Miami since coming off the disabled list in July. Against the Mets on July 31, he allowed just two runs in 7.1 innings during one of his best starts of the year.

Saturday, Game 2: Jacob Turner vs. Carlos Torres

What the Marlins lack in hitting they make up for in good, young pitching. Turner is another one of those guys who you can picture being in the middle of Miami's rotation for the next five or so years. After pitching splendidly in June and July, Turner has really struggled with his walks and pitch counts lately, and he should be vulnerable against a Mets team that likes to work the count. But that hasn't been the reality so far this season, as Turner has only allowed three runs in 13.1 innings against New York in 2013. Torres has only pitched one relief inning against Miami this season—it was a good one, for what it's worth—and could find himself back in the pen soon with the Mets returning to a five-man rotation.

Sunday: Tom Koehler vs. Dillon Gee

The local boy Koehler has pitched against the Mets three times this season, most recently with six shutout innings on August 1. Besides that, though, he's not a very exciting pitcher. At 27 years old, Koehler is way too old to be an MLB rookie (but not as old as Lucas!), and he doesn't punch out enough batters to make up for his middling walk rate. Ideally, he'd work out of Miami's bullpen in the future. You know who doesn't have a middling walk rate? Gee, whose 2.15 walks per nine this season is the lowest of his career!

What about some GIFs?

Jose Fernandez has been shut down for the season, but is now one of my favorite players because of how he trolled the Braves on Wednesday night.

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Ike Davis doinks into Adeiny Hechavarria while the Marlins turned a double play on August 1.

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Chad Qualls' tumble from July 30 is a classic that may never grow old. The Mets would go on to win 4-2 on John Buck's two-RBI single in the 10th.

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