It will not be a fun year for the Marlins. That being said, we will have chances to bet on them at home. If I bet the Marlins on the road at any point this season, slap me so hard that my ancestors will feel it. Miami plays 76 games against the Braves, Mets, Nationals, and Phillies. That’s 47.2 percent of the schedule. Add in the Dodgers, Rockies, the five very competitive teams in the NL Central, and the Indians and Twins in interleague play.
It will be a long year. Last year was a long year, but there was a silver lining. The Marlins were 25-55 away from home, but played to an extremely competitive 38-43 at home. They were awful against good teams, which is to be expected and a bad sign going into this season, but kind of held their own against bad teams at 29-36.
The Marlins were 13-14 in their 27 home games against playoff teams last season. Those teams were the Braves, Cubs, Brewers, Dodgers, Rockies, Yankees, and Red Sox. That’s not bad when you consider they were a home dog in most of those. Unfortunately, this team is horrible away from home and there were some extremely pronounced home/road splits on the pitching staff.
Money Line Spots
Obviously there will be some spots to back the Marlins at home. The entire starting rotation and bullpen will get a boost from the pitcher-friendly conditions of Marlins Park. Naturally, the opposition pitchers get a boost as well, but the Marlins can at least be competitive and get some games to fall their way. At home, the Marlins were outscored 323-279. On the road, they were outscored 486-310.
What this means is that we can find some home spots to back the Fish. We can even do so without backing guys like Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards, who will command some respect from the oddsmakers and the betting public. Guys like Wei-Yin Chen and Dan Straily have a much better chance at home. Because they will likely have ERAs well into the 4s and 5s, they still won’t get much home respect. Guys like Smith and Richards miss bats and may not be hurt as badly on the road as the other starters. As a result, their prices, even at home, will be depressed a little bit.
There will be some situational spots that favor the Marlins as well. Coming off of a hard-fought series against Atlanta or somebody else in the division could lead to a letdown against an undermanned opponent. Also, well, it’s Miami. There’s a lot to do and a lot of reasons not to focus on baseball.
Marlins games at home featured just 7.43 runs per game. Road games featured 9.95 runs per game and that was with a miserable Marlins offense that only contributed 3.875 runs per game in those road contests. This is an enormous split and something very much worth keeping in mind. Even though the Marlins offense looks bad again, road overs are very much there for the taking because of how bad the pitching staff is.
The pitching staff isn’t a whole lot better this year either. Again, Smith and Richards project to have the best chances away from home. Overall, the Marlins posted a 3.56 ERA with a 4.01 FIP and a 4.47 xFIP at home. On the road, they were really, really bad. Miami finished the season with a 4.76 ERA, a 4.57 FIP, and a 4.65 xFIP. That’s right. Their season ERA was 1.20 runs higher than their home ERA. It takes a lot of bad pitching on the road to get to that point.
Marlins Park is very much priced into the line for Miami totals at home, but this offense is so bad that I wouldn’t be too scared taking 7.5s or 8s. Miami did manage to be 80-75-5 to the over last season, with the road playing a huge role.
Individual Players to Watch
Wei-Yin Chen – My goodness. Chen had a .180/.245/.283 slash against at home with a .230 wOBA against. On the road, he allowed a .332/.398/.609 slash with a .419 wOBA. NL MVP Christian Yelich finished the season with a .422 wOBA. Essentially, hitters were collectively Christian Yelich against Chen on the road. Chen may not get a rotation spot here, but for the $17.3 million he’s being paid, he might as well eat innings.
Trevor Richards – Let’s see how the sophomore season goes for Trevor Richards. He had pronounced home/road splits as well, as he allowed a .294 wOBA at home and a .351 wOBA on the road. The one nice thing is that his K% went with him on the road, so I would expect improvement for him in that department. Away from home, he allowed a .335 BABIP and his LOB% was a tad lower.
Caleb Smith – Sample size noise had an impact on Smith. He allowed a .294 wOBA at home and had a 3.13 ERA. He allowed a .308 wOBA on the road and had a 5.18 ERA. Most of the damage was done in June when he got injured and missed the rest of the season. Smith wound up with a 69.4 percent LOB% on the road and a 79 percent LOB% at home, even though his K% was nearly identical. Hopefully he’s healthy so we can see how he progresses.