June 2010

How JJ makes more of less

Even among power pitchers, Marlins ace Josh Johnson ranks up there with the best of him.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pound right-hander repeatedly brings the heat when he’s on the mound. His fastball, according to www.fangraphs.com, is the fourth highest on average of any starter in the big leagues. The average of all JJ’s fastballs this season is 94.6 mph.

 
JoshJohnsonawe.jpgPure heat, however, isn’t necessarily the formula for success. Yes, being overpowering enables a pitcher to get away with more mistakes. But to be truly the best of the best, Johnson is aware that he must be better at subtraction with his off-speed pitches.

A good sign for Johnson is when his slider is in the neighborhood of 85-86 mph. The thing with Johnson is, because he throws so hard, even his slider can be 90-91 mph.

Why the benefit of the 10 mph drop in speed off his fastball? Because it is harder to hitters to time.

A case in point came in Johnson’s last start, when he beat the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 10. In the first inning, JJ faced runners on second and third with two outs. On a 2-2 pitch, he struck out Jayson Werth with an 85 mph slider, after he threw a 96 mph fastball for a ball.

The more Johnson learns about subtracting on his slider, the better he will be. At 26, JJ is still learning the finer points of the game.

Hitters have shown they can foul off his 91 mph slider, running up JJ’s pitch count. When he gets them to wave at 85 mph, he becomes virtually unhittable.

A big reason why Nationals sensation Stephen Strasburg is so effective is he throws an 86 mph curveball to complement a 99 mph fastball.

JJ is very skilled at adjusting during games. He is working on spinning the baseball  more to reduce velocity. A good indicator on if it is working is if you see the velocity on his slider in the 85 mph range. 

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

Halladay-Johnson set for Thursday

Washed out on Wednesday, the Marlins and Phillies were back at it again on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.

The same pitching matchup that was slated for Wednesday was just pushed back a day.

A pair of aces are on the mound. The Marlins are going with Josh Johnson, while the Phillies are starting Roy Halladay.

When he last faced Florida, on May 29, Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history. Johnson, meanwhile, gave up one unearned run in seven innings, suffering the loss.

 

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1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) Dan Uggla, 2B

6) Cody Ross, CF

7) Mike Stanton, RF

8) Ronny Paulino, C

9) Josh Johnson, P

 

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1) Shane Victorino, CF

2) Placido Polanco, 3B

3) Chase Utley, 2B

4) Ryan Howard, 1B

5) Jayson Werth, RF

6) Raul Ibanez, LF

7) Wilson Valdez, SS

8) Carlos Ruiz, C

9) Roy Halladay, P

– Joe Frisaro

 

Rained out Wednesday

For the second time this season, the Marlins have had a game postponed because of rain.

Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia was washed out. No makeup date has been set yet. But a possible date for a doubleheader will be on Sept. 6, when the Marlins return to Philadelphia.

The Marlins rotation has now shuffled for the new few days.

Josh Johnson, who was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, will throw on Thursday. The Phillies are countering with Roy Halladay.

The Marlins weekend rotation at Tampa Bay now will be Anibal Sanchez (Friday), Ricky Nolasco (Saturday) and Chris Volstad (Sunday). Nate Robertson is being skipped one start, and he is available in the bullpen.

The Marlins previously were rained out on April 23 at Colorado. They made that up on April 24 with a doubleheader.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Stanton to face Halladay

Coming off his three hit MLB debut, Mike Stanton will face a bigger challenge on Wednesday night. That is, if the game is played. It’s been raining all day in Philadelphia, and more is expected tonight.

If the game moves forward, the Marlins will face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Roy Halladay is set to throw for the Phillies. On May 29 in Miami, Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history.

Josh Johnson gets the nod for the Marlins.

After going 3-for-5 on Tuesday, Stanton became the youngest player to get three hits in his MLB debut since Danny Ainge of NBA fame went 3-for-4 in his first game on May 21, 1979, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Stanton was 20 years, 212 days. Ainge was 20 years, 65 days.

 

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1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) Dan Uggla, 2B

6) Cody Ross, CF

7) Mike Stanton, RF

8) Ronny Paulino, C

9) Josh Johnson, P

 

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

Stanton seventh in debut

For weeks, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez noted that Mike Stanton could initially start off batting seventh.

That’s exactly where the 20-year-old slugger was positioned in his big league debut on Tuesday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The Marlins open a three-game set with the Phillies, and Gonzalez shuffled things up a bit. Chris Coghlan moved back to leadoff, while Hanley Ramirez returned to batting third, after leading off on Sunday at the Mets.

 

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1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) Dan Uggla, 2B

6) Cody Ross, CF

7) Mike Stanton, RF

8) Ronny Paulino, C

9) Chris Volstad, P

– Joe Frisaro

 

Where to bat Stanton?

Creating an easy transition for Mike Stanton is a primary objective of the Marlins as an organization and Fredi Gonzalez as manager.

For weeks, Gonzalez has said Stanton likely would start off batting seventh, or perhaps second.

stanton4a44.jpgThe recent offensive struggles may have prompted a change of thinking. Hanley Ramirez batted leadoff on Sunday in a 7-6 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.

Ramirez was hitless in two at-bats with three walks, including one intentionally. One of his outs was a crushed liner to deep right field that Jeff Francoeur made a terrific running catch.

Gonzalez noted that Ramirez leading off wasn’t a definite guarantee. But will the All-Star bat first on Tuesday night at Philadelphia? That may have now changed with Stanton officially called up.

Stanton batted third at Double-A Jacksonville. His numbers spoke loudly, 21 homers, 52 RBIs and a .311 average in 52 games.

Don’t be surprised is Stanton is batting sixth or second on Tuesday.

It was seem unlikely to put the 20-year-old in a prime power spot like No. 3 in his first big league game, especially since Dan Uggla belted his 13th homer while hitting third on Sunday.

If Stanton hits sixth in his big league debut, Ramirez would go back to batting third. A possible lineup that way, at least against right-handed starting pitching, would be Chris Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez, Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Uggla, Stanton, Cody Ross, Ronny Paulino and Chris Volstad, Tuesday’s starter.

Ross already has produced batting seventh, while Uggla has been having a solid season batting mostly fifth.

Perhaps a better option is hitting Stanton second right away is Sanchez has already shown he has the discipline to bat eighth. Paulino is more of an aggressive hitter, and may not be best suited to hit in front of the pitcher.

One thing to consider about Ramirez batting second is if a base is open, like it was Sunday at New York, teams will likely intentionally walk him to get to Coghlan. The Mets did that with a runner on second and two outs. Then they brought in lefty Pedro Feliciano, who struck out the lefty hitting Coghlan. With Ramirez hitting third, he is protected by Cantu, a proven run producer, .

If Stanton were hitting second and Ramirez third, opposing teams couldn’t match their lefty reliever in those spots.

Earlier this season Gonzalez asked Bobby Cox why he put Jason Heyward, Atlanta’s 20-year-old sensation, second.

Cox said it was out of necessity because Yunel Escobar wasn’t hitting. Heyward has thrived batted second.

Perhaps that will be the best fit to start Stanton, and then see how the lineup comes together.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Stanton headed to big leagues?

It looks like Mike Stanton could be joining the Marlins in Philadelphia.

Stanton was not in the starting lineup for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns on Sunday at Montgomery.

Speculation is growing that the 20-year-old will be headed to Philadelphia to join the Marlins for their series with the Phillies, which begins on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Stanton has 21 home runs and 52 RBIs, and he’s batting .311 for the Suns.

As of game time for the Suns on Sunday, Stanton was with the Suns in Montgomery. He took batting practice in the cage with his teammates.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Uggla climbing up HR ladder

Dan Uggla homered in the third inning on Sunday, giving him 13 on the season. It was his first home run since May 23 at the White Sox.

Now with 134 career home runs, Uggla is closing in on Miguel Cabrera (138) for second place all-time in Marlins history. The franchise leader is Mike Lowell (143).

As part of a lineup shuffle, Uggla was batting third for the second time this season. In his other appearance, he also homered. Those are the only two home runs he’s ever hit batting third.

Nine of Uggla’s homers this year have come when he’s hit fifth. He has two from the No. 4 spot.

The only two spots in the order where Uggla has never hit home runs at are No. 1 and No. 9. He has 61 career shots while batting second, where he primarily hit his first three seasons. He has 45 total hitting fifth, and 19th sixth.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Hanley leading off

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez talked about “tweaking” the lineup after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.

The manager made a big change on Sunday by sliding Hanley Ramirez into the leadoff spot for the first time since 2008.

A career .313 hitters leading off, Ramirez was switched to the No. 3 spot in 2009, and he went on to win the NL batting title with a .342 average.

This year has been a struggle for Ramirez, who is hitting .286 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs.

Heading into Sunday, Ramirez had all but one of his at-bats this season from the No. 3 spot. The other time was when he was used as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher’s spot.

 

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1) Hanley Ramirez, SS

2) Chris Coghlan, LF

3) Dan Uggla, 2B

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) Ronny Paulino, C

6) Cody Ross RF

7) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

8) Cameron Maybin, CF

9) Ricky Nolasco, P

 

 

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1) Jose Reyes, SS

2) Angel Pagan, CF

3) Jason Bay, LF

4) Ike Davis, 1B

5) David Wright, 3B

6) Rod Barajas, C

7) Jeff Francoeur, RF

8) Alex Cora, 2B

9) Hisanori Takahashi, P

 

– Joe Frisaro

Marlins lineup for Saturday

The Marlins play a nationally televised game against the Mets on Saturday afternoon. The 4:10 p.m. matchup will be on Fox.

Josh Johnson will be interviewed between innings. Jorge Cantu will be wearing a microphone.

Nate Robertson gets the starting nod for Florida, while the Mets are sending lefty Jonathon Niese to the mound.

 

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1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) Dan Uggla, 2B

6) Cody Ross, RF

7) Ronny Paulino, C

8) Cameron Maybin, CF

9) Nate Robertson, P

 

 

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1) Jose Reyes, SS

2) Angel Pagan, CF

3) Jason Bay, LF

4) Ike Davis, 1B

5) David Wright, 3B

6) Rod Barajas, C

7) Jeff Francoeur, RF

8) Ruben Tejada, 2B

9) Jonathon Niese, P 

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

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