Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Miami Marlins (16-18) at Chicago Cubs (17-16)


The Marlins today play the final of a three-game series at Wrigley Field as they continue a two-city, six-game road trip that finishes with three at Arizona from May 8-10. After an off-day on Thursday, will begin a six-game homestand with three against the Reds from May 12-14 before hosting the Nationals from May 16-18.

Miami dropped the series on Saturday with a 2-4 loss against the Cubs. RHP Matt Barnes got the call as the opener, tossing a scoreless first inning with a 1-0 lead after LF Bryan De La Cruz’s RBI single in the top half. RF Jorge Soler hit his 6th homer on the year, keeping Miami out in front for the majority of the game. A messy defensive inning in the eighth was the difference, as Chicago scored 3 (2 earned) against LHP A.J. Puk.

RHP Sandy Alcantara will make his 117th start with the Marlins today as he looks to record his 36th win to tie Tom Koehler for 11th-most in franchise history.

• Alcantara is also nearing a couple other Marlins franchise marks, including innings pitched and strikeouts. Ranks 9th in innnings pitched, trailing Ryan Dempster’s 759.2 IP, and ranks 6th with 659 strikeouts, trailing Anibal Sanchez’s 676 career strikeouts.

After a career-high 12 strikeouts in 5.0 innings against the Cubs on Apr. 29, Cabrera struck out 8 Cubs in 5.0 innings on Friday. The combined 20 K’s in back-to-back starts that lasted 5.0 innings each are the most in a 10.0 inning span in his career.

• Last week, tied record set by LHP Jesus Luzardo with 12 strikeouts in a start that lasted no more than 5.0 innings. 20 strikeouts in two starts of 5.0 innings or less is also a club-most.

2B Luis Arraez leads MLB with his .430 batting avg. (46×107) and .483 on-base pct., ranks t-2nd with 46 hits, t-2nd with 13 multi-hit games, and 6th with his 1.016 OPS. Is currently riding a 9-game hitting-streak, matching the highest streak this season by a Marlin (Bryan De La Cruz, 4/12-22).

• Is coming off of the best April in club history, setting club history with his .438 avg. and .500 on-base pct. in 23 gms, becoming one of only two Marlins players to own a .400 avg. entering May (also, Dee Strange-Gordon, .409 in 2015).

• Trails Dee Strange-Gordon (54, 2015) for the most hits in club history by a Marlins player through their first 30 gms of a season. • Became the first player to finish the month of April with a batting average of .435 or better and an OBP of .500 or better since Barry Bonds (.472 AVG and .696 OBP) in 1994 (min: 50 AB) – courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau.

• His .430 batting avg. is the highest through 30 gms into a season for any Major Leaguer since Cody Bellinger’s .434 mark with the Dodgers to start the 2019 season.

• Has struck out 7 times in 120 PA (.058 K/PA), the lowest mark in MLB among qualified batters.

The Marlins’ 15 wins in the month of April tied the second-best mark in franchise history (also; 1997, 2004, 2008) and marked the most wins in April since the team moved to Miami (club record set of 16 April wins set in 2011).

• Miami secured a winning record in April for a second straight year – prior to last year’s April, the Marlins had not had a winning record in April since 2016. Marks the first time the Marlins recorded back-to-back seasons of winning records in April since the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

The Marlins are 10-0 in one-run games in 2023, marking the most consecutive wins in games decided by one run to start a season in franchise history. Are the only team yet to lose a one-run game this season.

• Marks the most consecutive wins in games decided by one-run to start a season since the 2004 Los Angeles Dodgers also went 10-0. The last team to start a season with a better stretch in such games was the 1972 New York Mets, who own the all-time record (courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau).

• Miami played 64 games decided by one run in 2022, the most such games in the Majors last season. Miami’s 40 one-run losses were the most in a season in club history, the most since the 1975 Astros (41), and just three shy of the single-season record for one-run losses during the Live Ball Era (since 1920) held by the 1968 White Sox (44).

CF Jazz Chisholm Jr. has stolen 11 bases this season (in 13 attempts), leading the team and ranking 5th in MLB behind only Esteury Ruiz (16), Ronald Acuña Jr. (15), Ji Hwan Bae (14), and Nico Hoerner (12). HIs 11 steals in April tied the club record for most steals in the month of April (also, Luis Castillo, 1997).

The Marlins have stolen 28 bases this season, tied for seventh most in the Majors (third in NL). Have been caught just seven times, tied for the sixth-best SB pct. in the NL (80%) behind the Braves (86.2%) and Mets (83.9%).

• Since the start of the 2020 season, the Marlins have combined to steal 164 bases on the road – the most for MLB team during this stretch (Chicago is second-best in NL with 142).

The Marlins are in the midst of playing four consecutive day game from May 4-7. Marks their longest stretch of daytime starts since playing five in-a-row from May 28-June 1 last year, which included a straight doubleheader in Colorado.

• Sandy Alcantara will make his third career start vs. Chicago (fifth appearance). Marks his first regular season start against the Cubs on May 6, 2019. Owns a career 5.68 ERA (12.2 IP/8 ER) with 16 strikeouts in the four outings.

• Since the start of the 2022 season, has gone 5-6 with a 3.61 ERA (117.1 IP/47 ER) and 108 strikeouts in 18 starts away, while posting a 1.90 ERA (146.2 IP/31 ER) with 130 strikeouts in 20 starts at home.

• Alcantara currently has 116 starts with the Marlins the ninth-most in club history.

• Last faced at Wrigley Field on May 6, 2019, tossing 5.0 IP allowing 3 runs and struck out 5 batters. In 2 total starts vs. CHC in 2019, combined for 11.0 innings and allowed 8 runs (6.55 ERA).

• Alcantara’s fourth career shutout on April 4th marks the fourth time in club history that a Marlins pitcher has thrown a complete game shutout in the first six team games of the regular season (Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett, 2005 and Brad Penny, 2002).

• Alcantara finished his historic 2022 season with 32 starts going 14-9 with a 2.28 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 228.2 innings, along with 6 complete games, a 0.98 WHIP, and a .212 opponents’ batting average in 32 starts. He led Major League Baseball in innings pitched and complete games and led all NL pitchers with an 8.1 WAR (Baseball Reference). During Alcantara’s entire life (born Sept. 1995) only two pitchers reached the same statistical totals since the 1996 season: Felix Hernandez, SEA (2010) and Pedro Martinez, MON (1997).

• Won Baseball Digest’s MLB Pitcher of the Year Award. Became the second Marlin to win this honor (Dontrelle Willis, 2005). Was named the second annual Juan Marichal Award recipient, an honor given to the league’s best Dominican player.


Cubs vs. Marlins
The Cubs and Marlins play six games spanning two series this season … the clubs met in Miami last weekend, with the Marlins sweeping the three-game set … dating to 2016, the Cubs have won four of the last five regular season series against Miami.

FAREWELL FOR NOW: The Chicago Cubs today aim for their second series sweep of 2023 (April 17-19 at Oakland) as they close out a three-game series and six-game season series with the Miami Marlins … yesterday, Chicago earned its first victory when trailing entering the eighth inning this season (1-11), as the club mounted a three-run, eighth-inning rally to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead … Nick Madrigal (tworun single) and Miguel Amaya (RBI single) keyed the rally.

The Cubs went 10-3 in 13 games from April 4-19, then went 4-10 in 14 games from April 20-May 4, but have since won two-straight games.

Chicago is in the 13th day of 16-consecutive gamedays through this Wednesday … this run started April 25 and the team is 5-7 thus far.

Today is the 10th game (3-6) of a stretch that sees the team on the road for 16 of 22 contests through May 21.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Cubs are 10-8 through 18 games at Wrigley Field in 2023 and have scored 87 runs during those 18 games (4.8 runs per game), the second-highest run total at home in the N.L. and fifth-highest in the majors.

Nico Hoerner’s 27 hits at home are tied for the second-most in the majors, while his .346 average (27-for-78) ranks 10th.

Justin Steele (0.74), Adbert Alzolay (0.90) and Keegan Thompson (1.74) all sport ERAs under 2.00 at Wrigley Field … the Cubs’ pitching staff as a whole has a 3.75 ERA (68 ER/163.0 IP) at Wrigley Field, the third-lowest home ERA in the N.L.

IT’S TIME TO MASH: Matt Mervis yesterday recorded his second-straight game with at least one hit and one RBI to begin his major league career … Ed Hartig notes that Mervis becomes the fifth Cub in the Divisional Era (since 1969) to record at least one hit and one RBI in each of their first two MLB games (also Jorge Soler – 2014, Rafael Palmeiro – 1986, Dan Rohn – 1983 and Scot Thompson – 1978).

Mervis on Friday became the 15th Cub since 2000 to record a hit and an RBI in his major league debut (last done by Narciso Crook, June 30, 2022).

Mervis became the second Cub to make his major league debut this season (also Miguel Amaya).

KEEGAN’S ZEROES: Keegan Thompson earned the win in relief yesterday, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts … the outing marked Thompson’s second relief appearance of at least 3.0 scoreless innings this season (also 3.1 IP, April 3 at Cincinnati).

Thompson has had scoreless relief appearances of at least 3.0 innings eight times in his career (once in 2021, five times in 2022).

In 50 career games out of the bullpen, the rigthander has a posted 2.15 ERA (22 ER/92.0 IP). MAN OF STEELE: Justin Steele has allowed two or fewer runs in 14-straight starts since July 22, 2022, the longest active streak in the major leagues … Steele has posted a 1.24 ERA (11 ER/80.0 IP) since July 22, 2022, the lowest ERA in the majors during the run (min. 14 GS).

Steele’s run of 14-straight starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed are the longest by a Cubs since Jake Arrieta did so in 14 consecutive outings from July 30, 2015-April 4, 2016.

NOT A WALK IN THE PARK: Cubs pitching has not walked a batter in four of their last six games since Monday in Washington … during 51.0 innings in the six-game span, the Cubs have only walked six batters total, the fewest in the major leagues.

The Cubs pitching staff has walked 97 batters in 2023, tied for the fifth-fewest in the major leagues.

SAVED BY THE BELL-INGER: Cody Bellinger since April 4 has hit .330 (33-for-100) with 26 runs, eight doubles, a triple, six home runs, and 14 RBI in his last 26 games, reaching safely in 24 of those contests … has scored a run in 19 of his last 23 games.

Since April 4, Bellinger’s .610 slugging mark and .999 OPS is fourth among N.L. qualified hitters.

ABOUT THE BATS: Chicago’s .270 team batting average (306-for-1,134) ranks third in the majors behind Tampa Bay (.277) and Boston (.273), however, the Cubs have batted .240 (111-for-462) in their last 14 games since April 22 (along with a .317 OBP and .387 SLG in that span) … Chicago’s .341 season on-base percentage ranks fifth in the majors while its .432 slugging mark is tied for seventh.

Nico Hoerner’s 45 hits and 12 stolen bases both are fourth-most in the major leagues.

ABOUT THE ARMS: Cubs pitching has surrendered 27 home runs this season, the fewest in the N.L. and third-fewest in the majors.

Chicago’s pitching staff has held the opponent to a .225 average against (240- for-1,066), the lowest in the N.L. and fourth-lowest in the MLB.

Javier Assad on Thursday became the first Cubs reliever since Marcos Mateo (June 30, 2011 vs. San Francisco) to toss at least 5.0 scoreless innings, while allowing two or fewer hits and walking none.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: The Cubs have scored at least one run in each of their first 33 games in 2023, just the sixth time in the expansion era (since 1961) the team has gotten on the board in each of its first 33 contests … the longest season-opening streaks in this span: 47 G in 1995, 43 G in 2020, 40 G in 2012, 35 G in 1975 and 34 G in 1991.

Starting Pitcher – #19 RHP Hayden Wesneski (2-1, 4.45)
Last Time Out
Hayden received a no-decision on May 2 at Washington, tossing 6.0 innings of one-run ball and allowing no walks .. it was his third start of the year allowing only one run (also April 17 at Oakland and April 27 vs. San Diego) … has made back-to-back starts with 5.0 innings or more pitched and one run allowed … has completed at least 5.0 innings allowing one run or fewer for the seventh time in his career.

Date Opp. Result IP H R ER BB SO PC-S Left
5/2 @ WAS L, 1-4 6.0 5 1 1 0 2 78-51 0-1

2023 Splits and Season Notes
Home 1-1 7.59 3 3 10.2 15 11 9 6 4
Road 1-0 2.55 3 3 17.2 16 5 5 2 13
AVG vs. LHB: .308 (16-for-52) / AVG vs. RHB: .254 (15-for-59)

Hayden will make his seventh start of the 2023 campaign today, his fourth at Wrigley Field … has allowed three runs or fewer in four-straight starts since April 17, including one run or fewer in three of those four, posting a 2.42 ERA (6 ER/22.1 IP) during the run … has a career 4.02 ERA (14 ER/31.1 IP) at Wrigley Field, compared to a 2.40 ERA (8 ER/30.0 IP) on the road.

Earned his first win of the season, tossing a career high-tying 7.0 innings, allowing one run while striking out seven April 17 at Oakland.

Went 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA (4 ER/17.0 IP) and 22 strikeouts in five Cactus League starts … did not allow a run in his first 11.2 IP of the spring before surrendering his first runs in his fourth start of Spring Training.

Mikey Balhan Sports

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