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Series Preview: Oh no, not the Marlins, anyone but the Marlins

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They’re as bad as they’ve ever been, which means these games will be as painful for the Giants as they always are.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We all hate the Marlins. There’s nothing good about them except for the time they beat the Yankees in the World Series. Oh, and — I guess — if you want to count the Livan Hernandez and Robb Nen trades, too. But then there’s all that other stuff. You know what I mean.

The Giants lost two out of three to the Marlins at the end of May, just as Mike Yastrzemski arrived, and right at the end of a 7-game losing streak. I barely remember that series, because I choose not to. At the time, our esteemed Kenny Kelly wrote:

The Giants are now on a seven-game losing streak. They’ve been outscored 63-19, and the Marlins have held them to two runs in two games. They have to win tomorrow to avoid getting swept by one of the only teams that is somehow worse than them.

If you think the Giants’ offense is bad consider that Starlin Castro’s triple in the eighth was the first triple by a Marlin this year, and they play in a park with a big outfield. They should have at least a few by now. No team in baseball history has ever made it to June without hitting at least one, and this season started early.

They’ve hit 13 triples since game two of that series, including triples in their last two games, which were at home to a now-ailing, yet still competitive Brewers team. Yes, the Marlins just ended Christian Yelich’s season, getting him to foul a ball off his knee.

We already know the Marlins are capable of taking out a team’s best player. We can only hope they’ve satiated their blood lust against the Brewers; otherwise, some poor Giant might suffer a Buster Posey or Evan Longorian fate. That’s the pain of the Marlins Death Fog, the history of the Marlins against the Giants.

And now the Marlins get the Giants at home, right where any team would want the Giants. The Marlins have scored the fewest runs in the National League (546) by a substantial margin when compared to the NL team with the second-fewest runs scored. That team would, of course, be the Giants (629)!

The Marlins have also scored the fewest runs on the road (233) in all of baseball. The second-fewest runs by a road team is 286 by the Tigers. The Giants are 10th with 380 and 30th — dead last — with 249 runs at home. Yes, the Giants are doomed. They are doomed in any home game. San Francisco is no longer a home field advantage.

But they’re especially doomed against the Marlins, anywhere, anytime. Since 2009, the Marlins are 21-13 at Whatever It’s Called Park, although in the first year of the Jeter Era, the Giants managed to win 2 out of 3. That’s the series that cost them Hunter Strickland, so win or lose, every Giants-Marlins matchup will usually involve a notable loss due to injury.

Here is a list of injuries sustained in recent Giants-Marlins series:

May 2019 — Nick Vincent (pec strain)
June 2018 — Hunter Strickland (broken hand from door)
June 2018 — Evan Longoria (broken hand from HBP)
July 2017 — Austin Slater (groin strain)

I was tempted to add:

August 2017 — Brandon Belt and Joe Panik went on concussion IL

Even though they had sustained those injuries prior to their respective Marlins series, because, superstitiously, I choose to believe the mere proximity of the Marlins causes dizziness, disorientation, and a desire to escape.

There’s nothing good or fun about the Marlins. The last meeting at least featured Sergio Romo in the closer’s role. Now we won’t even have that (he was traded to the Twins at the deadline).

Only pain. Only suffering.

Hitter to watch

Brian Anderson is the team leader in bWAR with 3.8, but he’s out for the rest of the year with a fractured finger. He led the team in home runs (20) and OPS+ (113), while playing the hot corner. The next top player by home runs is Starlin Castro (19), and maybe he is the hitter to watch despite a season OPS+ of just 88.

His has been a season of two halves:

Pre-All Star break: .245/.272/.336 (.608 OPS) in 371 PA | 6 HR 15 BB 64 K | -2.025 WPA
Post-break: .300/.332/.552 (.884 OPS) in 238 PA | 13 HR 10 BB 39 K | 1.672 WPA

Reminder that WPA = win probability added, a cumulative number weighting the outcome of every plate appearance in terms of a team’s ability to win or lose a single game. Baseball Reference is saying that he basically cost the Marlins two wins in the first half of the season just by being so terrible at the plate. In the second half, he’s won them nearly two games.

In September alone, his 1.039 OPS (including 4 home runs in 50 PA) has amounted to 0.482 WPA.

Pitcher to watch

I love the energy of these matchup photos on MLB.com:

Saturday night’s starter Robert Dugger looks like a huge nerd and his less than overpowering stuff only boosts that idea. And there he is going against Madison Bumgarner.

Dugger has made four starts, and has a 6.4 K/9 along with a 4.7 BB/9. He’s allowed three home runs in 21 innings and has a 4.29 ERA/5.78 FIP split. This is a guy the ace of the Giants’ staff should have no trouble out-pitching, so watching Bumgarner and the Giants flail and fail against him and the Marlins shouldn’t be a reason to get mad: it’ll be comedy, and we should try to enjoy it.

Prediction

Theoretically, the Giants could sweep this series. In theory, home teams have the advantage. In theory, people who are still watching games at this point in the season will care about this weekend’s outcome.