Marlins vs Yankees

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The Miami Marlins are hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates for a three-game set this weekend, thus concluding a week-long homestand. Come Monday, the Marlins will be on the road for a while — all the way until late April, believe it or not.Alas, the length of the Marlins’ road trip isn’t the story everyone will be focused on in the coming days. Rather, the spotlight belongs to the Marlins’ series against the New York Yankees. The two sides will meet for two games beginning on Monday. It’ll be the first time in Giancarlo Stanton’s career he plays against the Marlins. It will not, however, mark the first time Derek Jeter takes in a series at Yankee Stadium as minority owner of the opposing team.The Miami Marlins are in New York on Monday to kick off a brief two game series in the Bronx against the Yankees. Let’s hope these games can be played because the Yankees had games on Saturday and Sunday that were rained out. They last played on Friday when Aaron Hicks hit two home runs and the Yankees beat the Tigers 8-6 to even their record at 7-7. It’s early in the season, but they are already five games behind the Red Sox.

The Marlins have much smaller expectations this year, in large part because they traded Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, and although he is struggling, he’s still a huge bat in any lineup. Derek Jeter took over for the Marlins and also got rid of many other players, looking to make the team his own. It’s going to be a long season in south Florida and the Marlins are currently 4-10 and already 7.5 games behind the Mets.Caleb Smith will be on the hill for the Marlins on Monday, looking to get his first win of the year. He hasn’t pitched great, but he’s certainly pitched well enough to have gotten a win so far. He’s allowed three earned runs or less in all three starts, but the problem is he’s only lasted five innings, three innings, and 5.1 innings, and he’ll have to go that far on Monday if he wants to earn the win. He’s now lasted only 13.1 innings in three starts.

His ERA is 4.73 and that’s largely attributed to all of his walks. Batters are only hitting .216 against him, but his WHIP is much too high at 1.58. That’s because he’s walked 10 batters over his 13.1 innings, and that’s going to get him in trouble. Monday will be only his sixth start of his career, so he has time to improve on that.Masahiro Tanaka will be on the hill on Monday for the Yankees, looking to get to 3-1 on the season. He began the season with a win and lost the second game despite pitching well in both games. He then got lucky in his third game, giving up seven hits and six earned runs over five innings, but somehow still earning the win in a 10-7 victory by the Yankees.

Because he was so shelled in his latest outing, his ERA has swelled all the way to 5.19, even though it was just 2.92 coming into the game. His WHIP and batting average against are 1.04 and .239 respectively, both phenomenal, which makes his ERA look more like an outlier. I think he will pitch well in the coming month.Awkward because Jeter is a legendary Yankee who now runs the Marlins?Or awkward because of how he reportedly tried forcing Stanton to waive his no-trade clause last winter to accept a trade to San Francisco or St. Louis before the Yankees helped continue the Marlins’ offseason fire sale by taking on most of the $218 million that was remaining on a $325-million contract that is the largest in baseball history?

Asked about Jeter’s absence this week, Stanton answered, “We don’t think there’s any crazy bad blood besides what (the media) stirred up. We were very honest with each other in our meetings and that’s business side of it. But there’s no bad blood on this side.”Stanton got his way. He wanted no part of being part of another Marlins’ youth movement and he used both his no-trade clause and opt-out after 2020 season as leverage.

Jeter blinked first after reportedly telling Stanton that he’d force him to be on a watered-down rebuilding club for years if he didn’t accept a trade that the organization worked out as opposed to one to a team that he preferred.The Yankees and Marlins completed a trade in December to move Stanton, who hit 59 homers and won the National League MVP last season, and ever since there’s been very little looking back other than continuing past friendships with former teammates.I follow whoever my friends are,” Stanton said. “I check out how they’re doing. I made sure to send notes when they’re doing well and keep ’em going.”

Come August, Stanton will have another reunion with his old club, one that probably will be more meaningful: The Yankees’ two games in Miami.”It’ll be cool to see my guys (this week), but I think it’ll be a little bit different when I go to Miami,” he said.Stanton will go into this week’s Yankees-Marlins series feeling good about his game after a lot of early struggles, including two five-strikeout games that got a lot of media attention.He’s hitting just .220 in 14 games with 25 strikeouts in 59 at-bats, but has been fairly productive with three homer and 10 RBIs. And although he was 0-for-5 again with two strikeouts against the Tigers on Friday, his roadtrip began with a good series in Boston in which he was 6-for-12 with a double, triple and three RBIs in three games.

“My balance points are better,” Stanton said. “I’m picking the ball up better. I’ve just got to continue.”He’ll try to continue feeling good at the plate this week facing the Marlins, his only big-league club from his rookie season in 2010 until last Dec. 9 when he was traded to the Yankees with cash for second baseman Starlin Castro and two minor leaguers, right-hander Jorge Guzman and infielder Jose Devers.One of the Marlins that he’s looking forward to seeing this week is the Yankees legend who managed him for in Miami in 2016 and 2017. Stanton is fond of Don Mattingly. They hugged in March when the Marlins played a spring training game in Tampa and they’ll probably catch up again this week.

“He had a great career,” Stanton said of Mattingly. “He had success in LA (as a manager) and came over to our situation (in Miami). He was very level headed. He’s a student of the game still. He understands the game very well and I enjoyed played under him.”

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