Miami Marlins -110 @ Philadelphia Phillies -110 (Total: 8.5)
Mark Buehrle (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-1, 13.50 ERA)
With the enormous flap over Ozzie Guillen’s odd and insensitive remarks and the media firestorm that ensued, there hasn’t been much focus on another problem for the Marlins; this team isn’t scoring many runs. Through six games they have dented the plate just 21 times, good for an average of 3.5 a game. It isn’t abysmal, but it isn’t the offensive explosion they were hoping for when they shelled out a staggering 191 million dollars in the offseason. Jose Reyes has held up his end of the bargain in the early going, batting a decent .267, but that is bolstered by two doubles a triple and a pair of stolen bags.
However the Marlins are going to need superstar shortstop-turned third baseman Hanley Ramirez to get it going if they are going to keep pace in the talented and deep NL East. Hanley is hitting just .167 through the first week of the season. If it weren’t for the blistering start of Emilio Bonifcaio (.391) and Omar Infante’s unlikely power contribution (.333 with 3 HRs), this team would likely be even worse off than their 2-4 start.
They do have a nice pitching edge in chilly Philadelphia tonight as the Phils get their first look at long-time White Sox Mark Buehrle. Buehrle was effective in his first start against Cincinnati, allowing just two runs in six solid innings. I expect him to fare well in Philadelphia on a cold night with temperatures expected to dip into the low 40s.
For Philly, pitching is their strength, but Blanton would have to be considered the one question mark among their all-world staff. This will be his first outing, though he did allow a run in 2/3 of an inning (hence the 0-1 record, as he earned an L in relief). He is their fifth starter, and there was some thought he would be skipped in the rotation, but Charlie Manuel didn’t want to wait all the way until next week to get Blanton his first outing. We will see if that decision pays off for him this evening.
This is not the Philly team of three years ago when Howard, Utley and Rollins were stringing together consecutive MVP seasons. Utley and Howard are hurt. Their replacements are hitting .118 and .111 respectively so far this season. That’s not pretty. Victorino, Ruiz and Hunter Pence have been able to pick up the slack so far this season, but they are going to need more than four or five bats in that lineup if they are going to legitimately win this division.
I like Miami tonight to rough up Blanton and to get a solid outing from Buehrle, and like the fact that it is a pretty flat line at just -110 for a #2 starter against a #5 with a struggling offense.
Free Pick: Miami Marlins to WIN -110