Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can the Marlins Hit the Slow Stuff?

Reader Paul posed an interesting question yesterday: Can the Marlins hit changeups? It seems simple enough, and yet the answer is fairly complex.

The Marlins have whacked their way to 15-10 not through any sort of patience, but by exploding through fastballs. If this were a high school dance, the Marlins would be the kids who rest during the slow songs to save energy for Alice DJ. So far it has worked, but will it continue to?

If you watched the Marlins-Brewers series this weekend, you would have noticed a fundamental change in strategy. The Brewers hardly threw any fastballs, tempting the Marlins with low curveballs and frequent changes of pace. For the most part it worked.

It was especially evident during first pitches. Clearly, the scouting report is in; the Marlins are best in the league when it comes to first-pitch hitting. Teams just aren't going to give them the high heat anymore, at least not to start off the counts.

How do the Marlins respond? They have to show patience on those early pitches, either staying back or taking altogether. Many of those pitches were balls, and if the Marlins can work the count up to 1-0, they'll start to get those fastballs they so dearly love. The added benefit? Become successful at waiting and teams will go right back to first-pitch fastballs again. Who knows? Maybe Joe Torre and the visiting Dodgers haven't even caught on yet.

One additional note: It's worth reading Future Fish's disheartening soliloquy on the failed Luis Castillo trade. The trade was already criticized at the time, and now it's made worse by the fact that the Fish released both players they acquired in that deal (Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler). The Marlins have made a number of fine trades, but this was one of their worst.

1 comment:

Imber said...

I think we all knew that was a horrible trade even then. It hurts to rehash.