As a fan, you gotta worry about the late night soul-crushing blown save, followed by the day game Scott Olsen start. This is where things could start to get really ugly. But it's also where Manny has tended to shine--his teams do seem to have a short memory and avoid sulking.
Check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on the Florida hitters and bullpen. Here's my look at the Marlins' starter for game 2 and prediction.
On the Mound
Josh Johnson: Johnson's ERA in two starts is 0.57. But he's obviously been excessively lucky, as his fielding-independent ERA is way up at 1.58. Um... yeah.
Johnson, a victim in 2007 of the Joe Girardi school of young pitcher abuse, is back with a shiny new ligament in his elbow and a couple more miles per hour on his fastball (94.7). He throws a two-seam sinking fastball, a classic four-seam heater, a slider and a change. This year shaved a couple miles per hour off his slider (84.2), giving him a hell of a deadly combination of out pitches, especially against righties. (Note: if Nick isn't in the line-up today, after sitting against lefty-vulnerable Jair Jurrjens, you know that Manny's just not thinking very hard about to how to optimize the Johnson/Willingham/Kearns rotation). He can pound the zone and get quick outs with the sinker, but he can also blow you away with his heat or make you look silly chasing the slider.
In his two starts against the Scats and the New York Metropolitans, Johnson has posted a sick 15:1 strikeout to walk ratio and a silly 65.9% groundball rate. Those stats represent small sample size craziness, no doubt, but the bottom line is clear: no pitcher in baseball has been more dominant in his first two starts. If he can do it again today, it's not too soon to start the Josh Johnson Cy Young talk.
Season record: 7-2
You won't find a greater mismatch of #2 starters than Josh Johnson vs. Scott Olsen, who is terrible.
After he gets massacred again today, I look for the chatter to start about sending Olsen down to AAA to "work on things." Nevermind that what we're seeing now is that utterly predictable result of a pitcher who's seen his velocity and K-rates steadily tumble over 3 seasons. The only reason Scott Olsen is still in MLB is because of the paucity of other options in Florida last year and a statistical fluke that was 200+ innings with a .266 BABIP. In the past, he at least had passable command. This year he's walking 6.75 per 9 innings (yeah, I know he hasn't gone 9 inning yet, but you get my drift).
One last thing: those of you who are so appalled by Lastings Milledge's supposed lack of dedication... how is it that Scott Olsen gets a free pass. The dude SMOKES CIGARETTES! What greater sign of a lack of commitment to success as a professional athlete do you need than that?
Almost forgot my prediction: Marlins, 9-3.