Twenty one year old left hander Brad Hand will be making his third start above double A (having skipped triple A) against the Rays. In his 12 double A starts, he struck out 6.2 batters per nine innings while walking 3.9 per nine. That’s far from dominant – frankly, he’d probably still be in double A if Josh Johnson wasn’t injured. As for his repertoire, he throws a fastball that wavers around 90 mph and can reach 93 on occasion, and a straight changeup that sits between 80 and 85 mph. He also throws two breaking pitches, probably both curve balls, that have similar velocity (around 78 mph), and similar horizontal movement, but one breaks downward by as much as six inches more than the other.
Right handed pitcher Ricky Nolasco, on the other hand, is a quality major league pitcher having a solid season. His strikeout rate is down slightly from previous years (7.34 K/9 as opposed to 8.39 K/9 last year and 9.49 K/9 the year before that), but his continuing low walk rate (2.12 BB/9 both for this year and his career) keeps him an above average pitcher. He throws a lot of different pitches (four seam, two seem, sinker, changeup, slider, and curve), and while he doesn’t post crazy whiff rates on any of them, they’re all decent. He’s always been a guy who reminds me of Matt Garza in terms of repertoire. And while opposing lefties have hit a respectable .275/.328/451, Nolasco has dominated righties to the tune of .257/.291/.428, with a 5.89 strikeout to walk ratio. Have fun, B.J.
Chris Volstad is a groundball pitcher who only gets ground balls at a slightly above average, rather than an elite rate. This makes for a difficult balancing act that he’s mostly failed at this year, posting an ugly 6.07 ERA. That number will probably improve as the season goes on (his BABIP in 2011 is well above his career norm), but Volstad does have a real and fairly obvious problem: his sinker, which he leans heavily on against batters of both handedness, doesn’t produce ground balls against lefties. The result is that over his career, in just about the same number of plate appearances, left handed batters have hit more than twice the number of home runs and posted an OPS of .818, compared to .733 for righties. Have fun, Matt Joyce.
Just step back for a moment and look at those splits for Randy Choate.
The Marlins offense ranks in the bottom half of the league with a full season line of .243/.319/.390. Don’t be fooled though – this offense is better than it looks right now, and will be better yet in a few years. With youngsters Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez and Chris Coghlan joining the still only 27 Hanley Ramirez (who’s actually having a terrible year so far), the Marlins have an enviable offensive core that will only improve with time.
These tables all exclude 2011 stats