This weekend the Braves travel down to rainy south Florida to take on the Marlins. Here are the pitching matchups, as described by Talking Chop:
Friday, 7:00 PM ET: Derek Lowe (10-8, 4.39 ERA, 4.27 FIP) vs. Alex Sanabia (1-1, 2.12 ERA, 3.70 FIP)
Lowe is coming off of two straight mediocre starts. He went only 5.1 innings in each one, giving up a total of 5 runs on 16 hits (including 3 homers). One positive sign is that he struck out 9 versus only 3 walks in those 2 starts. One negative sign is that he got only 43% ground balls in those starts. His season rate is 58%, and he really needs to be up around 60% to be successful.
Sanabia is a relative unknown who the Marlins recently called up from AA Jacksonville, where he was 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 14 starts. He had a decent strikeout rate in AA (6.94 K/9) but a fantastic walk rate (only 1.71 BB/9). He also allowed only 2 homers in 84.1 IP. The 21-year-old right-hander from San Diego has taken the baseball world mostly by surprise; I haven't seen him on any prospect lists at all, not even a token mention as a "sleeper" pick. In fact, he didn't even make John Sickels' Top 40 Marlins prospects list before the season. Yet, it's hard to ignore his numbers as a 21-year-old in AA. I'd liken his out-of-nowhere success somewhat to our own Brandon Beachy (though Beachy strikes out more guys).
So far in the majors, Sanabia has made 3 long relief appearances and 2 starts. In the 2 starts, he's pitched only 8.2 innings but has yet to allow a run. He's given up 9 hits and 3 walks with 7 strikeouts in those games. In his last start, on Sunday against the Nationals, he gave up no runs in 5.1 innings as the Marlins won 1-0.
Saturday, 7:00 PM ET: Kris Medlen (6-2, 3.31 ERA, 3.84 FIP) vs. Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 3.62 ERA, 3.45 FIP)
Medlen returns to the rotation after a brief All-Star-break-induced trip to the bullpen. In his last 4 outings (all in relief), Kris has given up 4 runs (3 earned) in 5 innings. In his last start, on July 7th against Philadelphia, he gave up 4 runs in 6.2 innings thanks in large part to 2 home runs. Though that was probably his worst start this year, he still picked up the win.
Sanchez has been struggling a bit lately, although his defense has not helped him (which isn't surprising--the Marlins rank just 19th in team UZR and 25th in team DRS). In his last 3 starts, including one against the Braves, he has given up 14 runs (11 earned) in 16 innings. He has not allowed a homer in those 3 starts but his strikeout to walk ratio is just 10:6.
Sunday, 1:00 PM ET: Jair Jurrjens (3-3, 4.25 ERA, 4.63 FIP) vs. Chris Volstad, (4-8, 4.78 ERA, 4.29 FIP)
Jurrjens' overall numbers still don't look great, but he has been very good since returning from the DL on June 30th. In 4 starts (24.2 IP) he has given up just 6 runs (2.19 ERA) on 19 hits (including 3 homers). He's still walking a few too many (10 walks since his return) but his strikeout rate has gone up (20 strikeouts, 7.30 K/9). If he can keep the walks and homers relatively under control, he should continue to be successful.
Volstad is the likely starter for the Marlins; if he can't go, it will be Ricky Nolasco. Volstad threw 70 pitches in a rehab start in AAA on Wednesday. In his last major-league action, on July 6th, he was roughed up for 5 runs in 3 innings against the Dodgers. He has a 6.86 ERA in his last four starts.
The Marlins may be in 4th place, but they always play the Braves tough. They also are coming off a series in which they won 3 of 4 games from the Rockies, so they are certainly capable of beating the Braves, too.