Keys to Beating the Marlins

As the Marlins and Yankees get set to duel in the 2003 World Series, Florida baseball expert Mark Doring gives PinstripesPlus.com in inside look at the four keys to beating the Marlins. Mark soon will be joining theInsiders to run the Marlins' site, FightingFishTales.com.

1. Keep Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo off the base paths. The Marlins success is directly correlated to how much Pierre and Castillo get on base. In games in which the Marlins won this year, Pierre and Castillo combined for a .348 batting average and 163 runs scored. In games that they lose, they hit only hit .256 with only 42 runs scored. This correlation holds even more true for Juan Pierre in particular. Games in which Juan Pierre reached base twice the Marlins play better than .700 ball. Games in which Pierre reached base once the Marlins play .530 ball. Games in which Pierre does not reach base, they play .430 ball. The key reason to keep Pierre and Castillo off the base paths is that it nullifies the effect that Pudge Rodriquez can have on the game. Pudge hit .297 for the season, however, with runners on base his average rises to .340. With runners in scoring position he hit a blistering .375. If the Yankees hope to have success against the Marlins and contain Rodriquez they have to start at the top and keep Pierre and Castillo off the base paths.

2. Make the Marlins young pitchers work. The Marlins starting pitching staff is very young. The key to getting to them is to take pitches and make them make a mistake. The Marlins pitchers tend to get behind in the count, which makes them prone to walking a lot of hitters. And that's the key to beating this young staff. Get runners on base!!!! So the key is to take pitches, take walks and put pressure on them. The Marlins staff allows a batting average of .251 when the bases are empty. With runners in scoring position that average allowed climbs to .268. When the bases are loaded that number jumps up again to .276. These young pitchers are talented, but they are still young and prone to falling victim to their emotions. Lets look at Beckett's first inning in Game 1 of the NLCS as an example. Beckett walked the leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton on four straight pitches. At that point you could see that Beckett was letting the emotion of the moment get to him. He began to rush his pitches and began to throw nothing but fastballs which the Cub hitters were eating alive. Same thing happened in Game 2. Brad Penny was obviously overwhelmed by the situation in Wrigley and ended up giving up 7 runs in 2 innings. So if the Yankees want to have success against the Marlins they have to be patient and let the Marlins pitchers make their own mistakes. This is the World Series, against a legendary team with Games 1 and 2 being played in the most hallowed ground in American sports. These conditions can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned of veterans. The Yankees must be disciplined at the plate and make the Marlins young pitchers rise to the occasion.

3. Right-handed pitching against the Marlins is the key. With the exception of Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo, the Marlins battling order is comprised completely of right handed hitters. The Marlins throughout the season hit much better against left-handed pitching than against right-handed. The Marlins batted for an average of .290 against left-handers and only .258 against right handers. This bodes very well for the Yankees in this series in that most of the Yanks starting rotation, with the exception of Petitte, and most of the bullpen is comprised of right-handed pitching.

4. When playing the Marlins, never feel that your lead is safe. One thing about this team is that they don't give up. Five of the Marlins seven playoff victories were come from behind wins. This team was down in the NLCS 3-1 heading back to Chicago to face two of the best young pitchers in the game who had never lost back to back games all season long. You must remember, this team will not quit. If you have the lead, keep hustling, keep trying to drive in runs cause the Marlins will keep coming after you.

A Few Notes

The Marlins home record this year was 53-28, tied for 4th best in the majors.

The Marlins have never lost a game at home this year when scoring 5 or more runs.

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