It s easy to say that this next series for the New York Mets is the biggest one of the 2016 season. After all, they are playing the Miami Marlins, a team they are neck-and-neck with in the division and for the second Wild Card. At 50-44, the Mets sit 1 1/2 games behind the Fish. who are 52-43, in both sets of standings. The Marlins return home after taking three of four games from the Philadelphia Phillies while the Mets are 3-3 on the first six games of their nine game road trip. Miami is rumored to be in the market for starting pitching help, having been linked as interested in Michael Pineda and Andrew Cashner.
The Marlins have had three young players blossom all in the same year. Left fielder Christian Yelich leads all full-time players with a .395 on-base percentage and a .318 batting average while center fielder Marcell Ozuna is supplying a good deal of pop with 17 home runs and 52 RBI’s to go along with a .303 batting average. Catcher J.T. Realmuto is hitting .315 and owns 23 hits over his last 65 at-bats, a .365 average. Four Marlins are in the top 15 in the National League in hitting: Yelich, Ozuna, Realmuto and Martin Prado. Then there is the wonderful Ichiro Suzuki who is four base knocks away from the historic 3,000 number for his Major League career. At age 42, Ichiro is having a fabulous season with a .419 on-base percentage and hitting .343 in 178 at-bats. There is a chance that he could make history this weekend at the Fish Tank. Though Giancarlo Stanton has struggled lately with six hits in his last 27 at-bats, the Mets remember him well from his last visit to Citi Field when he clubbed a series of monstrous home runs. Miami will get some help by the end of the month when Justin Bour comes of the disabled list and Dee Gordon returns from his suspension for using a banned substance.
The Mets will be facing the two best Marlins’ starting pitchers this weekend. Left-hander Adam Conley gets the ball in the opener Friday night. He averages nearly a strikeout an inning with 103 punchouts in 104 2/3 frames. He is 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) over his last seven starts. On Saturday, New York gets to face Marlins’ Ace Jose Fernandez, one of the best pitchers in the game. The 23-year old right-hander is second in all of baseball in strikeouts with 168 and his WHIP of 1.01 is tied for seventh. He owns a record of 11-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 18 starts. In his last outing on Monday vs. the Phillies, Fernandez allowed two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings while striking out 14. A.J. Ramos has turned himself into an outstanding closer with 31 saves in 32 opportunities and a 2.03 ERA. In 40 innings pitched, Ramos has allowed only one home run. The bridge to get to the ninth inning has been fortified with the recent acquisition of Fernando Rodney. Kyle Barraclough and David Phelps have proven to be able relievers, although the latter has surrendered four earned runs over his last seven innings pitched.
This marks the fourth time these two teams meet. The Mets hold the advantage at 5-4. They will meet for seven more games after this weekend, four in New York to close out August/begin September and three games in Miami, the last home series for the Marlins in 2016.
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