The Marlins’ playoff hopes are more or less on their last legs. The Miami club started the season with projection systems giving them a 15 to 20 percent chance of making the playoffs. They hovered around .500 until June, but a 16-10 July saw those odds increase to 40%, a very respectable increase with a real possibility of a playoff payoff. Unfortunately, things went south soon after, and the Marlins are just 15-25 since the calendar turned to August. They currently find themselves five games back (with three teams ahead of them), playoff berth odds sitting at just 1.0 percent. They lost the first game of this series to the Braves, and fell behind early last night before pounding Matt Wisler to even the series.
For the Braves, there are, of course, no 2016 playoffs even within dreaming distance. They sit at 56-89, with 11 losses to go under the ignominious 100-loss milestone. They’ll have to garner seven more wins to avoid triple-digit losses, and while they have Julio Teheran in their corner tonight, they’ll have to overcome a very tough customer in Jose Fernandez to grab their 57th win of the year.
Fernandez, of course, is a pretty terrifying opponent. His 2.90 ERA belies an even-shinier 2.27 FIP / 2.47 xFIP, and he’s struck out about 35 percent of the batters he’s faced this season. Among all NL starters “qualified” for the ERA title, his FIP trails Noah Syndergaard’s by just a smidge (2.25 to 2.27) and he’s the xFIP leader over Syndergaard by a bigger margin (2.47 to 2.67). By the way, those two guys also lead the majors in those categories. Basically, he’s good, folks. He’s also in the Top 10 in ERA, but so is Julio Teheran.
Fernandez obliterated the Dodgers in his last start, with seven scoreless innings where he allowed three hits, three walks, and struck out 14. However, he’s battled some occasional inconsistency despite the overall sparkling results this season. For example, going back to his last start in July, he’s allowed five or more runs three times, while also keeping opposing teams scoreless three times (the other two starts featured one and three runs allowed). Braves fans probably remember that inconsistency well, as the Braves tagged him for two homers and nine runs (six earned) in early July in what was arguably his worst start of the year. Of course, two starts before that, he shut them out for seven innings and struck out seven, so there’s no reason to feel anything other than trepidation here. (Also, let’s not forget when he beat the Braves with a pinch-hit extra-inning two-run double. That was most definitely not fun.)
Julio Teheran is not having a Fernandez-esque season, but has been very good in his own right, with a 3.01 ERA and a 3.73 FIP and 4.14 xFIP that he keeps outperforming. After a couple of rocky starts since returning from the Disabled List, Teheran has allowed just four runs in his last three starts while striking out 18. He hasn’t had much fun against the Marlins this season - of the five times the Braves have lost to the Fish in 2016, Teheran has pitched in two of them, allowing eight runs (three in one start, five in another).
Don’t look now, but in addition to his 30th homer of the season last night, Freddie Freeman also currently leads the majors with a 19-game hitting streak and a 35-game on-base streak. Freeman has also had good success against Fernandez (unlike most hitters): 7-for-20 with a walk, a double, and two homers (.350/.381/.700). To counter, Marcell Ozuna has plagued Teheran in their previous matchups. He’s in fact seen Teheran more than any other starter in his career, and is 14-for-33 with a double and two homers against him (.424/.424/.636).
Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 7:10 pm ET
Turner Field, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network, 680 AM / 93.7 FM