When it comes to baseball analytics, Giancarlo Stanton is a God with the bat and not nearly as godly with his glove.
Baseball’s home run leader made a case in the third inning Tuesday night he might be a little underrated defensively. His leaping catch at the wall to rob Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy of a solo home run was a highlight-reel grab to remember.
Unfortunately, it was the only real highlight of the night for the Marlins, who dropped a 2-1 decision and have now lost eight of their last nine games in a continued free-fall out of the wild card race.
Stanton, who hit his 53rd home run in Monday’s 7-2 loss to the Nationals, went 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts.
He’s produced only three hits (all home runs) in his last 32 at-bats. Stanton’s slump has coincided with the Marlins (67-71) slipping further and further back of the Colorado Rockies for the second and final wild card spot.
“He looks the same,” Marlins skipper Don Mattingly said of Stanton when he’s in the batter’s box. “I just think they’re being more careful with him. I think G is being patient. His at-bats don’t look any different.”
As far as Stanton’s glove, he ranks 19th out of 59 outfielders in ultimate zone rating (a defensive metric which measures the capacity of outfielder to cover ground) according to Fangraphs. Stanton’s powerful bat ranks second to the Yankees’ Aaron Judge when it comes to exit velocity.
“Obviously a nice play,” Mattingly said. “That was one that looked like it was out for sure. He's made a number of those. He had a few early, plays against the wall or right against the wall that kind of bounced off his glove and he was a little frustrated. But there’s three or four now that he’s taken away since then. He’s looked good. That’s one thing about G, he’ll get his [defensive] work in. He’ll work on his throwing and he works on [defense] a few times a week where he’s not just taking time off out there and thinking it’s one dimensional.”
▪ Odrisamer Despaigne is giving the Marlins something to consider as a starting pitcher.
The 30-year-old Cuban right-hander, who has spent most of the season coming out of the bullpen, gave up five hits, two walks and only one earned run over seven innings. In his previous three starts for Miami, Despaigne was tagged for 12 runs (seven earned) over 14 2/3 inings.
“Obviously, with our situation, we're looking for starting pitching,” Mattingly said. ““He’s a guy we know has weapons. He’s got enough weapons to deal with the lefties. He’s got enough weapons to deal with the righties. He can sink it, he can cut it. His breaking ball is good at times. He uses his changeup. If he's on, and is aggressive, this is what you see.
“Out of the pen, [Despaigne] has a number of different values. He can be a long guy. He can be a guy who bridges you, or come into the game early.”
▪ Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who exited the game with a left calf cramping issue, improved to 15-7 with a 3.13 ERA all-time against the Marlins with six shutout innings Tuesday.
It’s the most wins Strasburg has against any team in baseball. Strasburg scattered six hits, but didn’t walk a batter and fanned eight Tuesday. He tossed a complete game six-hit shut out against the Marlins last week in his prior start.
“His stuff is always good,” Mattingly said. “I thought we did a better job with him for sure – just as far as making him battle for his outs. The last game he hit 73 [pitches] through seven [innings]. [Tuesday], we were making him work, fouling balls off, taking the ball down some more. Obviously we didn’t get to him, but we still had better at bats [Tuesday] than we did the other day. Obviously it’s not enough just to say that. You have to have production and we really weren’t able to do that.”
▪ The Marlins produced seven hits (all singles) against the Nationals, but only two runners reached scoring position.
Miguel Ozuna, who had three hits, singled in the ninth, advanced to second on a passed ball and then scored on Tyler Moore’s sacrifice fly to right. Shortstop Miguel Rojas got to second in the seventh when right fielder Jayson Werth dropped a routine fly ball with two outs.
The Marlins could have also had a runner on second with two outs in the fourth had Derek Dietrich not been called for interference with Nationals catcher Pedro Severino. Ozuna had singled and stolen second with Dietrich at the plate. But instead of a 2-2 count with Ozuna on second, the threat was wiped out.
“It seemed to me like the catcher moved into my box and made an attempt to hit me, actually,” Dietrich said. “From my perspective, I think I was doing the right thing. I’ve never been called for that before. It’s unfortunate. I feel like that at-bat was taken from me. That’s a big situation, a guy on base. If he’s safe, runner in scoring position. I was disappointed that that was called there. I think a lot of people were in our dugout.”
▪ The Nationals (84-54) have beaten the Marlins seven consecutive times.