Some things from my box-
–Sean Marshall (2-2, 3.55) can take another big step forward in his preparation for being a regular starter tonight. The Marlins have hit him fairly decent over his career thus far (.277). A particularly tough out for Marshall is Dan “The Marlins Had To Send Somebody Other Than A Pitcher To the All-Star Game” Uggla (.364). Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, Ricky Nolasco and Wes Helms have all hit over .300 off Marshall as well, however, they have just 18 total plate appearances combined against him.
-The Cubs are expected to face Anibal Sanchez (1-2, 4.08) tonight. Nothing really jumps out at me per se. He pitches better in Miami than on the road, but that’s no big surprise. However, he seems to have better control at home as evidenced by his 12 strikeouts at home to just two on the road. To be fair, he’s only started in one game on the road and two at home, however. Still, teams are hitting him better (.250) at home than on the road (.238).
-The only current Cub to face Sanchez is Alfonso Soriano. Though his batting average is a meager .182 in 11 at bats, he has tagged Sanchez for two home runs over that stretch. Not so incidentally, those are his only two hits.
-Marshall has been steadily bringing his ERA down over the last month. Of course, Lou Piniella has been very careful with him as well. Marshall hasn’t pitched five or more innings since July 6th in a 7-1 win at St. Louis. In fact, Sean has pitched a total of just five innings in his last three appearances.
If you want my opinion (and I’m pretending you do), this is Piniella’s slowly evolving plan to see if he can take the Cubs into the playoffs (pending we get there) without Jason Marquis. The Cardinals dropped Marquis in 2005 for their World Series run and if Lou can find more consistency in Marshall as his fifth starter, then you can pretty much guarantee Marquis will be wearing his fourth jersey next season.