June to be a make or break month for the Miami Marlins

Finally on the other side of an abysmal 7-19 May that squandered the goodwill of a 12-8 April, the Miami Marlins kicked off June by splitting a doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies. 

The Marlins scored a total of 25 runs and demonstrated to be a team that was close knit and capable of providing their own energy. It could be the start of a run that they desperately need but the doubleheader also ended with the reminder that many of Miami’s efforts will likely be undermined by the futility of their bullpen.

The Marlins have recorded the second fewest saves in the National League. Only the last place Washington Nationals have fewer. Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott were the big bullpen acquisitions and both of them have an ERA over 5. Sulser was given the closer role recently but has blown two saves in his last three opportunities, including giving up the walk-off home run to Rockies second baseman Brenden Rodgers (his third homer of the game) in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s night cap.

As a unit, the Marlins bullpen has blown eight save opportunities this season. Having at least half of those going the other way would drastically change the Marlins season outlook. Anthony Bender leads the Marlins with six saves but starting April and May with a blown save has shaken management’s confidence in him to close the door.

Unfortunately for the Marlins, there isn’t an external solution to the bullpen. Calling a familiar face from Triple-A Jacksonville isn’t going to work and the Marlins aren’t at a point where trading for a high leverage reliever is worth giving up a prized prospect. Right now, the best way for them to mitigate future damage is to have the starting pitching go deep, cross your fingers and send in Anthony Bass and Bender to close it out.

Overall, pitching is Miami’s strength. Only three teams (San Diego, Los Angeles and Milwaukee) in the National League have a lower ERA and a higher opponent batting average than the Marlins. Pablo Lopez has a National League leading 1.83 ERA through 10 starts this season and Sandy Alcantara has a 2.00 ERA this season. It’s the first time the Marlins had two pitchers of this caliber at this point of the season. Both pitchers could be in the All-Star Game should they keep this up.

Edward Cabrera threw six scoreless innings, including five no-hit innings with nine strikeouts after being called up on Wednesday. If he emerges to what Trevor Rogers was last year (1.75 ERA in his first 10 starts) then the Marlins clearly have the starting pitching to move out of their current funk.

“He had some electric stuff,” Rodgers said. “And he’s throwing 95 mph changeups. That doesn’t happen pretty much ever. Maybe some guys like [Jacob] deGrom and maybe two or three others have stuff like that.”

With a strong starting rotation and an improved lineup that ranks 5th in the NL in OPS, the Marlins are a sleeping giant that could turn things around as soon as they break their one-run curse. Over the past two months Miami has played the most one-run games in the NL. Only the Toronto Blue Jays (22) have played more in baseball. Unlike the Blue Jays, who have won 14 such games, the Marlins (6-15) have lost more games by a single run than any other team the big leagues. Had they simply split that number 7-8, Miami would be 27-21 and competing for a wild card spot. 

Even with all of their shortcomings, the Marlins entered June with a Pythagorean win-loss record (which is predicted based on a team’s runs scored and allowed) of 23-23.

The Marlins are at home for the next two series, hosting the San Francisco Giants and Nationals. A positive homestead can change the trajectory of their season, or further the decent to the depressing depths of disappointment.


Marlins fans can be part of the solution but are part of the problem

It’s amazing to look back and realize that South Florida has had Major League Baseball in its backyard for 30 years.

30 seasons, four ownership regimes, three memorable playoff appearances, and two championships.

One of those championships was being celebrated this past weekend in a series against the Milwaukee Brewers, managed by the very man who scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.

The total combined attendance numbers on Saturday and Sunday were 24,670. To put that in context, the Marlins’ 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on April 30 had 29,010 fans in attendance, and that was because it was University of Miami theme night.

To further put it into context, the Tampa Bay Rays, who have spent their entire existence playing in an oversized Costco warehouse adjacent to Tampa, saw a higher attendance (20,832) on Sunday.

The 1997 team deserved better. The current team deserves better. The ballpark is 10 years old and is constantly being upgraded. The Marlins are the only team in baseball that has the players literally greet you at the gate. Jazz Chisholm is not just becoming a star but the envy of fans everywhere. Craig Mish said on his podcast that Chisholm might be a bigger star outside of Miami than in Miami and he might be right.

At some point, the issue of the fans and their constant lack of support must be brought up. No team in baseball is consistently successful without the support of fans . The fans here want the team to spend and succeed despite not going to the games and supporting that effort. Nobody wants to say it, but in South Florida, the fans are part of the problem when they should be part of the solution.

Is South Florida the only market in which the team must literally earn their fans by winning? The Florida Panthers had to win the Presidents Trophy, awarded to the team with the best regular season record, to get full crowds to their games.

Do the Marlins need to make the playoffs first for them to stop playing in empty stadiums? All the complaints one would hear about why nobody goes — the team is not competitive, the owner is cheap — are not unique to Miami, even if the fans like to think they are.

The Colorado Rockies franchise started the same year as the Marlins did. Over that time the have only been in the playoffs five times and in the World Series once. The owner is extremely unpopular and at times fans clamored for a change in ownership. Nolan Arenado, the Rockies’ biggest star since Todd Helton, demanded a trade a year after signing a big extension because of his frustration with the front office.

Do you think anyone in Denver trusts the Rockies’ front office? They signed Kris Bryant, a former MVP coming off another All-Star appearance, to a seven-year, $182 million contract. The move dumbfounded everyone. Why trade away one All-Star third baseman signaling a rebuild just to overspend for another in free agency. Rather than be excited, fans were rightfully confused.

Yet despite all that, the lowest attended game at Coors Field this season was 20,403 on a cold Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies. To get that number in Miami, the dogs need to be let in and Sebastian the Ibis needs to throw out the first pitch.

Not being good enough isn’t a worthy excuse to not show up either. The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off their worst season ever, with practically the same roster, and the only games that saw sub-10,000 attendance were when the Marlins were in town. And this isn’t some state of the art sports complex that alone attracts fans. It’s more than twice the age of LoanDepot Park and smells like a crayon box when the roof is closed. The Diamondbacks wanted to make the county pay for upgrades and were rumored to move to Las Vegas before the Oakland Athletics. And yet they still have better attendance numbers than a Marlins team that signed the World Series MVP in Cuban slugger Jorge Soler and are trying to win.

Want to talk about a lack of trust? Who at this point trusts the Cincinnati Reds? They tore down half of their roster. Phil Castellini, the team president and son of the owner, alienated his fans before the start of the home opener. Despite all of that, in a ballpark with 5,000 more seats, the Reds have seen more home games with 20,000+ fans (5) than the Marlins (2) this season. The last place Reds have had only two games this year with less than 10,000 fans — which has been a constant in Miami since they stopped fudging the attendance numbers.

Are the fans here still holding the past tear downs against the franchise? The first time led to a second World Series in five years. The Marlins instantly improved on offense with the second fire sale. The third rebuild led them to having their most talented outfield ever, and the most recent rebuild is being played out right before your eyes. It’s time to stop holding the grudge.

Miami has the reputation of being an unworthy sports town and in baseball, it’s one that has been earned by both franchise and fans. It doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve seen the energy that emanates from a full crowd in Miami. The two World Series are legendary. The World Baseball Classic was always at it’s best in Miami than anywhere else. The All-Star Game didn’t disappoint either. Even 2012 had good crowds, until the team collapsed in the summer.

Marlins fans need to drop the excuses and start supporting the team at the ballpark because they won’t reach your expectations without you.

Mateo’s Hoops Diary: The 76ers’ Shameful Handling of Embiid Situation

Word on the street is Joel Embiid has cleared concussion protocols and is doing everything he can to suit up for Game 3 against the Heat.  It comes across as poor taste that the 76ers can’t protect their star big man from himself. 


I don’t pretend to be a physician, but I don’t remember ever hearing or reading of a broken face healing in a week.  By not shutting Embiid down, the team is keeping the story alive that there is a possibility he could come back when suiting him up puts his career at risk.  #21, reportedly was finally able to lift his phone to his head without the light from the screen bothering his injury, and somehow the 76ers are squeezing a lucky rabbit’s foot hoping Joel makes a supernatural recovery. 


Perhaps the team is basing hope on their center coming back from an orbital fracture because he did it four years ago, but only after a three-week hiatus.  It was dangerous then, but the idea now should be so far removed from the realm of possibility and anyone suggesting it doesn’t care for Embiid’s health.  Injuries are a lamentable reality of the sport.  Suck it up and come back next year.


It’s an unnecessary risk for Embiid to waste his time in this series, especially when factoring the danger of playing and how poorly his team is performing. Basketball is a contact sport.  Suck it up and come back next year.


This team should have enough to cop a game, meanwhile, without Philly’s MVP candidate, the outfit has fallen into a 2-0 hole, with the spotlight of criticisms shining on Doc Rivers and James Harden.   Rivers gave the start to Deandre Jordan, a veteran big-man waived by the Lakers in late February, for Games 1 & 2 and his club immediately suffered for it.  Miami was quick to attack DJ through pick ‘n’ roll,  pulling up from midrange when he dropped back to protect the rim.  Considering the Heat’s versatility offensively, perhaps the operative move would have been starting Paul Reed and going smaller so Philly could Ice on Miami’s rim rolls.


As I sat through Philly’s post Game 1 presser, I thought I was hallucinating when I heard Rivers say he’d keep playing Jordan whether we liked it or not. The old adage, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” is often misattributed to Albert Einstein but the point still stands.  


Then there’s the Beard.  His decline is Shaekesperean because he had a part in doing it to himself.  He has not taken care of his body, and it’s likely a reason aside from age that he’s got no burst left.  On a Game 2 possession where he forced a switch to get Max Strus on him at the top of the key, Harden opted to take a dribble pull-up triple instead of cutting left for a layup or possible trip to the line.


In the first game, the Bearded One was a non factor from the field in the second half, missing ¾ attempts. His only made a bucket was in the low post and his three misses came from the perimeter.


When I asked Harden what the Heat did schematically to prevent him from getting to the line at his normal clip, after Game 1, he said “Next question.”  


I remember a version of the Beard who was must-see TV for three years.  He had a linebacker’s body with deep range, a tight handle and an explosive first step.  The man casually averaged 35 points a night between 2018-2020 while playing mainly in isolation, the toughest way there is to score because of the lack of ball movement.   It’s difficult to accept that person is never coming back.


I originally called this series in five games favoring Miami but it’s possible it won’t stretch that long because the Heat have a counter for every scheme the 76ers deploy. 




Opening Day is baseball’s day of romantic fantasy

Opening Day

It’s the first of 162 games, but it feels much more special than that.

It’s the first date of a long relationship between baseball and its fans, a day when magic happens. Reality will set in the next day but for teams like the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks, this day belonged to them. 

The Diamondbacks were staring down the barrel of a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a San Diego Padres team with playoff aspirations. Yu Darvish went six innings without a hit and manager Bob Melvin felt that the bullpen could finish the job. For two innings, he was right. 

The 35,508 fans at Chase Field who didn’t give up and left the ballpark early got their money’s worth at the end and were witnesses to a four-run ninth inning rally that was punctuated with a three-run walk-off home run by a barrel of a man named Seth Beer. It just so happened to be National Beer Day. 

Opening Day in Arizona also marked the 20th season of pitcher Oliver Perez’s career. Only one player has been in the big leagues longer than Perez and he began his final season where it all started. 

Albert Pujols last played for the St. Louis Cardinals during their surprising World Series run in 2011. After a forgettable decade-long stint with the Los Angeles Angels, Pujols returned to St. Louis to join long-time catcher Yadier Molina and ace Adam Wainwright for one last run to glory. A career that will likely end with 3,000 games with over 3,300 hits and 2,100 RBI under his belt, the last milestone for him to chase is 700 home runs. Thanks to the new era of the designated hitter in the National League, Pujols will have every opportunity to hit the 21 home runs needed to reach 700. 

While the East side of Missouri was experiencing nostalgia at its finest, the West side was welcoming a fresh new face. 

Hope has arrived in Kansas City in the form of top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. Taken with the second pick of the 2019 MLB Draft, his first career hit resulted in an RBI double that gave the Royals a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning en route to a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Guardians. 

How the rest of his rookie season goes is anyone’s guess but he and the Royals fans in attendance will never forget this game. 

The only aspect of Opening Day that is unfortunate is that it is not played by all 30 teams. The Miami Marlins had to wait until Friday fo partake in the christening of the new season. They couldn’t have picked a better place to open on the road. The Marlins make their splash towards San Francisco in the middle of the conflicting scents of sea salt and sourdough. 

The Marlins are retooled and ready to make a run at the playoffs while taking on a Giants team looking to back up an improbable 107-win season. The pitching trio of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and Trevor Rogers have the opportunity to earn the Marlins some early credibility with a series win against the best team in baseball. 

The Marlins have been projected to finish with either a winning season or slightly below .500 in a loaded division where three teams enter with World Series aspirations. Miami goes into the new season with an above average pitching staff bolstered by a Gold Glove winning catcher in Jacob Stallings and a newly minted outfield serving as the lineup’s sorely needed power source. Avisail Garcia, Jorge Solar and Jesus Sanchez all have 30-homer potential and if Jazz Chisholm makes the leap to true stardom in his second full season, the Marlins will be able to compete with the best and capitalize in either the Mets or Phillies’ eventual late summer collapse. 

Enjoy the hope while it’s at its peak and let the games begin.

The Marlins wasted a promising season

Entering the road series with the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, the Pythagorean theorem had the Miami Marlins at 55-54 and competing for their first ever National League East division title.

Instead, Miami was in last place of the division with a 47-62 record. The Pythagorean theorem predicts a team’s expected record based on the number of runs scored and allowed. Prior to losing 18-1 to the Washington Nationals a month ago, the Marlins had the highest run differential in the division throughout much of the season.

That mathematical system has likely flipped on the Marlins since after being swept by the Rockies in embarrassing fashion. Seeing Sandy Alcantara get tagged for 10 runs on Friday certainly didn’t look good. The most recent prized pitching prospect, Jesus Luzardo, gave up seven runs in less than five innings the next game and what’s left of the bullpen gave up 13 runs in the series finale. 

The main reason why the Pythagorean did not match reality was the amount of close games that did not go Miami’s way. Of their 65 defeats this season, 39 were by two runs or fewer. The Marlins have played 33 one-run games and won only 11. That’s tied with with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team with the league’s worst record, for most defeats of such nature in baseball.

This feels like a total waste of a promising season especially at a time where the NL East felt the most vulnerable. The division leading Philadelphia Phillies rose to the top on an eight game winning streak but is barely above .500 on the season. The New York Mets long had a flimsy lead and it only took a four-game losing streak to drop all the way to third place. Despite being 18 games below .500, the Marlins are closer to the top (12 GB) than any other last place team in baseball. 

The Marlins were supposed to build off their first playoff appearance and instead wasted a promising season. Not having Sixto Sanchez at all didn’t help but the pitching staff had a top 5 ERA in the NL prior to being victims of Coors Field.

The Marlins made shrewd moves when they added veteran bats like Jesus Aguilar, Starlin Marte and Adam Duvall but they seemed like the sole source of offense for Miami this season. 

Aguilar has been the Marlins best hitter since his acquisition and along with Miguel Rojas, the most consistent and relied on hitter on the team. He currently leads the NL in RBI (79) and along with Rojas — who is the leader of the team years after being a throw-in of a 2014 blockbuster trade that brought over Dee Gordon — are top priorities during the upcoming offseason. 

Duvall was brought to Miami on a reasonable salary to hit 30 home runs and he was living up to his end on the deal prior to being traded back to Atlanta for catching prospect Alex Jackson. The Marlins front office has proven to bring in competent veteran bats to bolster their refreshed pipeline and will be counted on to do it again this offseason. 

The rebuild was a success on the pitching side, but a complete failure on the hitting side. Outside of Jazz Chisholm, there has not been a prospect acquired in a trade since the new ownership whom has had success on the plate. 

A silver lining this season has been the gradual improvement of Lewis Brinson. After spending the first two seasons batting below .200 after being the centerpiece of the infamous Christian Yelich trade — which only happened because the eventual National League MVP wanted to leave — has been batting above the MLB average (.242) at .261 in 45 games. He has been a guy throughout his four years with the Marlins whom has been a disappointment due to his stature as a No. 1 prospect but always a good person from the area that makes you want to root for. 

Trading away the entire starting outfield has given Brinson another opportunity but this time, he’s capitalizing on it. He has one more hit in 51 at-bats after the All-Star Game (.317) than in 68 at-bats prior to the Midsummer Classic. It has been the best stretch of his career without any end in sight. With a .944 OPS during that stretch, he has outperformed everyone who has been slated to replace him. 

It seems like the rest of this season has now been dedicated to monitoring the new prospects brought over in the trades. Jackson has demonstrated plenty of power in the minor leagues and in seven games with the Marlins, two of his four hits have gone yard. Bryan De La Cruz was traded from the Houston Astros for relief pitcher Yimi Garcia and made his big league debut after batting .324 in his first Triple-A season. This season has been an objective disaster for Luzardo (7.36 ERA in 15 games, eight starts) but the 23-year-old prized pitching prospect will be given every opportunity to succeed for his hometown team.

There’s still hope that the 2022 Marlins could feature a starting rotation of Trevor Rogers, Pablo Lopez, Sanchez, Alcantara and Luzardo and a revamped lineup of veterans and breakout rookies. Nothing short of a playoff series at home will bring fans in LoanDepot Park.


Observations from inside the MLB All-Star Game

While the very concept of the All-Star Game may seem outdated, MLB clearly has the best of the four major sports.

It’s been six years since I last attended the MLB All-Star Game. It’s the type of event that takes a place like Cincinnati and turns it into a happening place. An argument could be made that the 2015 All-Star Game that featured their flamethrower of a closer mowing down three of the best hitters in the rival league and the Home Run Derby won by the hometown star was the biggest sporting event to happen in that city since the Reds winning the World Series in 1990 — the year I was born.

Most cities had plenty of time in advance to prepare for All-Star Week. Denver was tasked with putting the event together in the first week of the season and did an amazing job with it. Any market with a downtown ballpark is ideal for maximizing the event that is the All-Star Game. It would be interesting to see what Los Angeles does with it next year after missing out last year.

The crowd at Coors Field represent a comeback after a year that had us all hiding in homes and being away from each other due to a viral pandemic, a year where we all wondered when we will get to enjoy the game we love once again. It was more than a capacity crowd. Everyone was in their seats, and in the rooftop bar, and in the team store, and waiting in line for overpriced food.

It was a Coors Field sellout combined with a typical Marlins crowd. It felt like 2019 never ended.

The national anthem was a beautiful spectacle, starting with one of the stars of Hamilton singing and punctuating with a flyover and firework show.

The Colorado Rockies only had one representative in the game but they fans did get to see Nolan Arenado return to Coors Field as the starting third baseman for the National League after forcing a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals this past offseason after a divorce with the outgoing front office.

“Colorado deserves this,” Arenado said after being serenaded by the fans who knew him for ruling the hot corner for eight years.

Fireworks pierced the sky immediately after the words “play ball” were ushered by one very lucky kid.

We have been waiting for this moment for a long time.

The All-Star Game is meant to be an opportunity to see great moments from the game’s best, starting with Shohei Ohtani, who was the leadoff hitter and starting pitcher for the American League, the first ever to do so. There’s nobody in baseball who has had a better season like Ohtani, who is leading baseball in home runs with 33 while sporting a solid 3.49 ERA with 20 more strikeouts than innings pitched. A perfect inning and a couple at-bats and his day was done.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the game was Vlad Guerrero Jr. hitting a home run ball that nearly cleared the left field stands. He is one of three father-son duos to play in the All-Star Game.

“Dreams come true,” Guerrero Jr. said through a translator after the game. “Since I was a kid, I was thinking about this moment. I’ve worked all my life very hard and a lot of it is happening right now.”

The Miami Marlins, despite a season of struggles, should have had more than only one player in the game. However, Trevor Rogers was a good choice to rep the Marlins. The rookie leads all first-year players in ERA (2.31), innings (101 1/3) and strikeouts (122). He is certainly a shoo-in to win the National League Rookie of the Year.

“It’s something that we really dream of as a kid and growing up,” Rogers said, “here with the best guys in the world.”

While the game seemed like another lopsided American League victory, all anyone wants in a game like this is for the losing team to have a chance. It is even made all the more sweeter if your guy is the one to play the hero. 

That wasn’t the case for Marlins fans but if you were a Chicago Cubs fan, Kris Bryant was your guy. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning, Bryant hits a Matt Barnes fast ball to left field. It would’ve certainly been a game changer had it not been for a sliding catch by Jared Walsh to end the inning. 

In the end, a Japanese player started the game, an Australian closed it out and a Dominican won the MVP, all while representing the American League. Baseball is truly a global game. 

Along with Rogers, two other Miami Marlins should be All-Stars

Trevor Rogers is the most deserving among the Miami Marlins to be named a National League All-Star but he should not be the only one. 

When a team like the Marlins is 12 games under .500 this late into the season, it’s understandable for them to only have the mandatory one rep, but the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of the worst teams in baseball, has twice as many All-Stars is a travesty. 

Statistically speaking, an argument can be made for Marlins outfielder Adam Duvall and first baseman Jesus Aguilar making the NL All-Star team. 

Duvall currently leads the National League in runs batted in with 60, and is also fourth in home runs with 19. If that is not good enough to make the All-Star team then what is? 

Sure, he has 86 strikeouts, a .230 batting average and a .767 OPS, but if that’s good enough for Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo (20 HR, 46 RBI, .233 BA), who is on the American League All-Star team as a reserve, then it should be good for Duvall. 

Duvall is certainly more deserving than Los Angeles Dodgers outfielders Chris Taylor (10 HR, 42 RBI, .268 BA, .828 OPS) and Mookie Betts (10 HR, 31 RBI, .247 BA, .810 OPS), who got in as reserves based on name recognition and team affiliation. Aguilar is the only Marlin to have played more games (78) than Duvall (73). He has been the anchor of the lineup ever since arriving to Miami a year ago. 

Aguilar leads all NL first baseman in RBI with 53. With 13 home runs, he is on-pace to finish with 25 HR and over 100 RBI, which is similar to his breakout season in Milwaukee in 2018. 

Outside of Atlanta Braves’ Freedie Freeman, who was voted in as a starter by the fans, Dodgers slugger Max Muncy is the only reserve first baseman. Muncy has five more home runs and his .974 OPS blows the entire Marlins roster out of the water. 

At the very least, Aguilar should be on the final vote ballot. 

Pablo Lopez (2.97 ERA) and Sandy Alcantara (2.96 ERA) are certainly worthy of making the All-Star team, but 2021 has been a very good year for National League starting pitchers. Only German Marquez has a higher ERA than the Miami duo and as the Colorado Rockies’ lone All-Star, he pretty much has to be on the team. 

Pitchers are usually selected to fill the quota and make sure that every team has a rep. Starters who pitch on the Sunday leading up to the All-Star Game have their roster spot replaced, while still being honored and enjoying the festivities. 

So there is still a chance that Rogers isn’t alone in Denver on All-Star Week.

Pablo Lopez, another victim of the lack of production

Pablo Lopez was a victim again.

The Marlins keep wasting great starts by their starting pitchers’ great performances. On his first start of the season, Anthony Bass allowed a three-run homer and blew the save, and on Wednesday, the Marlins just couldn’t hit.

Just like what happened with Sandy Alcantara on Tuesday, on Wednesday afternoon, it was Pablo Lopez’s turn.

Trying to avoid getting swept by the Cardinals, Miami took the field at loan Depot park with Lopez taking the mound.

The Venezuelan right-handed did what most of the Marlins rotation did for the first two series of the season: He gave Don Mattingly a quality start, only allowing two runs thanks to a two-out two-tun shot by Yadier Molina, in the top of the seventh.

Before that, Lopez only had allowed a couple of basehits. With two outs in the seventh, he walked Matt Carpenter, and then allowed a 421-feet bomb to the Puerto Rican catcher.

What should have been another game in which the Marlins starter went out with an advantage, ended up in another loss, because the Marlins just can’t score.

Corey Dickerson had the only two basehits, one single leading off the game, and a double in the bottom of the eight with two outs.

In that first episode, it was Dickerson who ran into an out, with men on first and second, with no outs and Aguilar in a 3-2 count at the plate.

The Marlins are just not doing anything right on offense.

Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara with two great starts each: only one win in six games for Miami

In the first two series of the season, the Marlins starters only allowed eight earned runs in 30 innings pitched, for a 2.40 ERA.

None of them got a win.

The only Marlins win came on a offensive burst on Saturday on the third game of the series against the Rays, when they scored 12. Other than that, Miami only scored seven runs.

The bullpen was responsible for letting at least one game go (the second game of the Rays series, when Pablo Lopez started as well), but the main reason the Marlins did not win these two series is very clear: very few runs scored.

Against Tampa, a relief appearance could have been the difference. Against the Cards, it was the offense.

In the series against the Saint Louis Cardinals, Miami left 23 runners on base, scoring only three runs (one of them because of a couple of errors by left fielder Tyler O’Neill.

The bullpen is a problem, the offensive production looks like more than that.

Will Don Mattingly change something now or will he wait until the Marlins dig themselves a little bit more?


By Alejandro Villegas | @Alejandrovg32 on Twitter

Jazz Chisholm is a Marlins star in the making

“Hold on, Jazz is starting his thing.”

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly said that about rookie second baseman Jazz Chisholm on Friday after he hit a triple to spark a three-run rally in a 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

It sounded like a promise at first but after Saturday, it’s starting to appear as a threat.

In his most recent scouting report on MLB Pipeline, Chisholm was given a 55 run grade on a scale of 20-80. He proved deserving of a higher grade when he stole second and third base on his way to scoring on a sacrifice fly by Chad Wallach in the fourth inning.

With the way he ran from first to second to third, you would have thought that was Sonic the Hedgehog out there for the Marlins. Then he dove towards home plate like Willy Mays Hays from the movie, “Major League.” His helmet flew out of his head upon impact to the ground revealing his royal blue-dyed hair, which confirmed that it was indeed the blue blur out there on the basepath.

Chisholm is proof that the most surefire way to become a fan favorite and one of the most exciting players on the team is to steal bases and dash towards the plate. Stealing bases has been a lost art in recent years. Why steal second when you can swing for the fences and touch them all? Adam Duvall made the most of his pinch-hit appearance when he hit a solo home run in the eighth inning. It’s not like he was going to reach base and steal second or third.

The last time the Marlins had a player as fast and as exciting as Chisholm was Dee Gordon from 2015-17. The last time the Marlins saw a player make this kind of impression at the start of the season was Emilio Bonifacio in 2009. So while there is precedent for a player like Chisholm, seeing that type of energy he provides is unique and valuable.

Chisholm was the highest-rated prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 2019 when the Marlins traded an emerging ace in Zac Gallen for him in the waning moments of the trade deadline. It was an understandable move to make at the time considering that the Marlins had little organizational depth in the shortstop position and Isan Diaz was expected to lock down the second baseman slot for years to come.

It was also a hard move to make when considering what it cost. Gallen was not regarded as highly as Sandy Alcantara at the time of the offseason trade that netted both pitchers along with Daniel Castano, and and speedy outfielder Magneuris Sierra.

However, as his hair grew, so did his stature. He has a 2.78 ERA in 27 career starts with 26 more strikeouts than innings pitched. Not once in his young big league career has he given up more than three runs in a single outing.

That only meant added pressure for Chisholm to live up to the expectations that comes from acquiring a team’s top prospect. He came into spring training as the fourth-ranked prospect in the Marlins’ newly refurbished farm system and beat out Diaz for the Opening Day second base job.

After just one series into the season, it’s easy to dismiss anything with “it’s early.” Even if that’s so, it doesn’t mean that fans and media alike should wait until the summer to watch him blossom.

Isan Diaz and his last shot

Isan Diaz is battling with Jazz Chisholm to see who will be the starting second baseman for the Miami Marlins in the beginning of the 2021 season.

When Diaz came up, he was destroying minor-league pitching hitting homers here and there.

However, the result has not been the same when he had to face Major League Baseball pitching. Besides homering against Jacob DeGrom in his MLB debut in New York, there have not been too many highlights in his career.

Diaz hit .173 in 49 games in 2019, with a .250 OBP and a .307 slugging. 12 of his 31 hits that year were extrabases. He was just struggling to hit the ball.

The lefty hitter struck out 59 times in 201 plate appearances. Not a very beautiful sight.

In 2020, Diaz opted out before the Summer Training began, and later on decided he wanted to play.

That only lasted seven games, in which he only got four hits in 22 at bats. Again, his walk to strikeout ratio, was not good. Zero walks, and seven strikeouts.

In both of those short spans in the majors, Diaz had a combined WAR of -1.0. However you want to look at it, using sabermetrics or not, Diaz has not performed.

So, that’s why I think this should be the last shot for Diaz to be the starting second baseman of the Miami Marlins, a team that just went back to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.

The injuries, including Diaz’s, have opened the door for Jazz Chisholm, who arrived from the Diamondbacks in the Zac Gallen trade.

Isan Diaz will turn 25 on May, and failing to hit the ball better this season will probably make us think about Lewis Brinson and his constant failures to keep up with the expectations.

Both of them came to the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade, so there’s in an extra pressure there for both the players and the team to try to get it right.

Jordan Yamamoto is already out of the team, and Monte Harrison (who turns 26 this year), seems to be on a crossroad as well.

Chisholm just made his debut last season, and wasn’t impressive during his first six games with the team in the regular season, and then in the postseason, which could be a reason to send him down to the minors, regardless of what he does in the Spring Training.

Jazz seems to be a better glove in the long run, but the offensive side is kind of even.

And this Marlins team needs offense, desperately. That could be the x factor. If none of them can hit, the position might end up in Jon Berti’s hand.

We’ll see what happens…



By Alejandro Villegas | @Alejandrovg on Twitter