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Series Preview #27: Talking Marlins With Fish Stripes

36-42 (4th place, NL Central)
38-40 (4th place, NL East)

GAME 1: July 2, 2012 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

: July 3, 2012 @ 3:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: July 4, 2012 @ 3:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 4: July 5, 2012 @ 1:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

Miller Park | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

SBN Coverage: Marlins vs Brewers coverage

A View from the Other Dugout: Fish Stripes

Game 1 Zack Greinke (9-2, 2.82) vs. Carlos Zambrano (4-6, 3.71)
vs. Marlins (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 2 Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.50) vs. Anibal Sanchez (4-6, 3.94)
vs. Marlins (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 3 Randy Wolf (2-6, 5.78) vs. Josh Johnson (5-5, 3.80)
vs. Marlins (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 4 Michael Fiers (3-2, 2.29) vs. Mark Buehrle (7-8, 3.48)
vs. Marlins (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)

The Brewers have played 78 games this season and have faced 13 of their 15 NL league-mates at least once. They'll make it 14 when the open a four game set against Miami tonight. Michael Jong of Fish Stripes was kind enough to answer some questions about the Marlins and this week's series.

BCB: The Brewers face a familiar foe Monday in Carlos Zambrano, who is on pace to pitch nearly 200 innings for the first time since 2007. What can you tell us about his resurgence in Miami?

FS: Zambrano has struck out and walked around the same number of guys as he did in the last few seasons. The biggest difference between last year and this year is that he has his ability to suppress home runs again. For his career, he allowed homers at a 1.9 percent rate but last year that ballooned to 3.0 percent. This year, the rate is back down to 1.8 percent, and not surprisingly his ERA and FIP are back down closer to career levels. He is also getting a little fortunate on balls in play, but all in all the return to the home run-killing Zambrano is the biggest reason for his return to prominence.

Follow the jump for much more!

BCB: National League first basemen are hitting .259/.333/.434 this season but the Marlins' first sackers had a .208/.258/.305 line for the season entering play on Sunday. What's the issue here, and is there any hope of fixing it soon?

FS: Gaby Sanchez was an All-Star last year, and for his first two seasons, he hit a pretty consistent .269/.343.,437, which is conveniently right around this year's league average for first basemen. Indeed, he had been around a league average first baseman in those first two seasons. Now, he is hitting .194/.241/.286 and has lost all semblance of control over the strike zone. He is swinging and missing on more pitches inside the zone and when he has made contact, he has popped the ball up far more often than usual. Sanchez is 13th among major leaguers with at least 150 PA in terms of infield fly ball rate, and that has to be contributing to his terrible numbers.

Can it be fixed? The Marlins may wait a little while longer, but with some first basemen available in the trade market, they could try to pull the trigger on a move for someone like Bryan LaHair if it becomes available.

BCB: Coming off probably the most expensive offseason in Marlins history (and one of the most expensive in all of baseball), this Marlins team will still enter play Monday two games under .500 and in fourth place in the NL East. What's gone wrong?

FS: The Marlins have mixed in two awful months with one very good one. In those two awful months, almost all of the team's players hit slumps simultaneously, causing the club's massive struggles. In the one good month, the team depended on a ridiculous tear by Giancarlo Stanton along with better performances by a few other players to get them to over 20 wins. Yet somehow, despite all of the blowouts the Marlins received in June, they are still just two games back of .500 and reasonably within striking distance for a potential playoff spot. The Marlins have not played to their talent level in any of the three months this year, so it is difficult to even determine who the team is.

BCB: In terms of the standings this team is in a similar situation to Milwaukee's: They're in fourth place and 6-8 games back in their division in a year where bigger things were expected. How do you expect them to handle the trade deadline?

FS: The Marlins will either be light buyers or simply stay put at the trade deadline. The club built this team to win now, but because of a lack of minor league depth, they do not have the options to trade for talents at the deadline and they may not feel the additions would merit a significant change in the team's chances this season. Expect them to explore avenues but not to act on anything unless it was extremely attractive.

BCB: Lastly, like the Brewers the Marlins had just one player selected to the All Star Game (Giancarlo Stanton). Is there anyone else from this team you feel deserves consideration?

FS: A number of players would have been options for the All-Star Game were it not for poor Junes. Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, and Anibal Sanchez all could have received consideration had they not struggled so poorly in June following decent months in May. Unfortunately, because of their difficulties this past month, they are out of the All-Star picture. Really, only Stanton is deserving at this point, and that is fine, as he deserves to stand out with this honor.

Thanks again to Michael for taking the time, and be sure to check out Fish Stripes for more on the Marlins!