Although Miami (32-55) ranks near the bottom of the major leagues with 53 homers, the team has had a much different look offensively since getting Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison back in the lineup. Stanton and Morrison, who missed a combined 97 games due to injuries, have totaled nine homers and 23 RBIs since returning to action one day apart June 9 and 10. The Marlins have hit 24 home runs in their last 27 games after totaling 29 during a 16-44 start. They had won 16 of 24 before getting swept in St. Louis, falling 3-2 on Sunday as they failed to homer for the first time in six games.
The Atlanta Braves (50-38) who hold a 4 game lead over Washington in the NL East,will send Mike Minor (8-4 3.15) to the hill. Minor will try to hold the Marlins without a home run in back-to-back games for the first time since June 12 and 14, but he's had trouble keeping the ball in the park lately. The left-hander, who will face Miami for the second straight time, has allowed five homers in his last three outings after giving up nine in his first 14. Minor has gone 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in his last four starts, yielding four runs over six innings of a 6-3 home loss to the Marlins on Wednesday.
Stanton (.246 8 22) will hope to right the ship from his injury plagued below average first half. Justin Ruggiano (.225 12 31) leads the Marlins in HR but can use a bit of consistency to complement his suffering batting average. Derek Dietrich (.222 8 20) has also shown good power for the fish hitting .305 over his last 9 games and raising his average 20 points in the process. Marcel Ozuna (.288 3 29) has done a good job leading Miami in hitting at the top of the lineup, but Juan Pierre (.237) and Placido Polanco (.242) have had subpar seasons. Amongst others, the lineup could continue their promise with some timely offense against Minor this evening.
Miami counters with Kevin Slowey (3-6 4.24), who despite his own struggles will look to make the most of more opportunities after Saturday's trade of Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers. The right-hander was 1-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 13 starts before being demoted to the bullpen in June. Slowey, however, gave up four runs in two innings of relief in an 11-3 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. Justin Upton should be happy to see him again, as he's 4 for 4 with a homer and double against Slowey. He faces an Atlanta lineup that is averaging about 4.4 runs per game and has belted 108 HR, tops in the NL and 3rd in the majors. Dan Uggla (.205 16 39) is usually much better in the second half, and while he leads the Bravos in HR can certainly improve on his clip as well as the 108 K's in just 247 AB's. They could also certainly use Evan Gattis (.252 14 37) back who is suffering from an injured oblique muscle. Freddie Freeman (.309 9 56) has shown his versatility at the plate leading Atlanta in batting and RBI's earning several clutch hits keeping the Braves atop the NL East. Brian McCann (.304 10 28) just also returned to the lineup and has managed multiple hits in all but one of seven games during his hitting streak. He's batting .571 (16 for 28) with two home runs, six doubles and seven RBI in that span. Justin Upton (.243 15 39) has managed to maintain a positive frame of mind as he looks to break out in the second half.
We get a bit of a higher price this evening at a ballpark known to favor the pitcher especially to the deeper part of the corners towards center. However you have two pitchers struggling to get outs while yielding plenty of offense as both hurlers have combined to have an ERA of around 7.50 over their last 3 outings. Miami's has gotten some key players back and even showed signs of life at Turner Field last week. Atlanta is familiar with having big innings when the core part of their lineup is doing their part. Let's look to get back on the winning track this evening with a post holiday slugfest as we approach the heart of the summer months. Best of luck however you play!