Rockies at Marlins series primer
Opening Day couldn’t come fast enough for the Miami Marlins.
Despite the franchise’s second 100-loss season, the Marlins (62-100) closed out 2013 on a high note.
Right-hander Henderson Alvarez tossed a no-hitter on Closing Day, while Jose Fernandez earned National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young finalist honors.
Pair those with the offseason additions of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Rafael Furcal and Jeff Baker, and last season is a distant sight in the rearview mirror.
The Colorado Rockies (74-88) finished last in the NL West and 18 games behind the division-winning Los Angeles Dodgers. Four players — Wilin Rosario, Troy Tulowitzski, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer — had at least 20 homers and 70 RBI.
Here’s a look at the upcoming Rockies-Marlins four-game series:
SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS
3B Nolan Arenado (Rockies): After his average dropped to a spring-low .308 on March 21, Arenado collected hits in five of his last six games, including three multi-hit appearances. This could be the breakout season that makes him a household name.
OF Christian Yelich (Marlins): Since a second consecutive hitless game on March 17, Yelich has bumped his average from .222 to .286. He closed out spring training with at least one hit in each of his final eight games.
OF Michael Cuddyer (Rockies): The All-Star closed out Cactus League action with the lowest batting average (.188) amongst Colorado starters. He went hitless in 11 of his 17 games with just three RBI. He walked twice and struck out 11 times.
OF Marcell Ozuna (Marlins): The 23-year-old hit just .177 — the lowest average amongst Miami regulars — with five doubles, two homers and seven RBI in 21 spring games. He also didn’t look particularly comfortable in center field compared to left.
15: Home starts Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez has gone without a loss to start his career. He went 9-0 with a 1.19 ERA at Marlins Park, living up to the notion of home-field advantage.
.095: Batting average against lefties in 2013 for Marlins first baseman Garrett Jones. That split led to a platoon for the Pirates because of his struggles.
.375: Batting average for Cuddyer in seven games against the Marlins last season. The All-Star also scored four runs, doubled three times and drove in three.
20: Number of big-league seasons for Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins once the first pitch has been thrown on Opening Day. He has played for 10 teams, accumulating a 68-90 record and 4.37 ERA.
"I’m excited. Jose (Fernandez), obviously, is our main guy and our Opening Day starting pitcher. For me, all the other guys are young guys with good arms. I know everybody makes a big deal about where they fall in line. But after Opening Day, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the guys’ jobs to go out there and give us a chance to win ballgames. They always talk about battles for rotations’ spots, or fourth or fifth spots. For me, it’s more of a battle to get into the rotation. That’s what we saw." — Manager Mike Redmond, to reporters, after announcing the starting rotation following Thursday’s Grapefruit League win over the St. Louis Cardinals
"Now everything’s in the past, and it doesn’t really mean anything if what we’ve been doing doesn’t carry over into the season." — Right-hander Tom Koehler, to reporters, on the team’s success during spring training
"I’ll do whatever they ask me to do. It’s a lot different than starting. You just have to come in there and be ready to go right away. You don’t have an inning or two to kind of get things going. You’ve got to get it rolling right away, and come right after people." — Southpaw Brad Hand, who will begin the season in the bullpen after Koehler won the final rotation spot
April 4-6 — San Diego Padres at Miami Marlins