Miami Heat Secure 4 or 5 Seed in Eastern Conference

The Miami Heat have had their fair share of ups and downs during their time in the bubble. But finally secured a 4 or 5 seed, due to a Philadeplia 76ers loss to the hot Phoenix Suns.

This means that the Miami Heat will match-up with either the Indiana Pacers or Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, which seems to look more and more like Indiana due to the 76ers superstar inuries. This also means that the Miami Heat will be avoiding a Boston Celtics first round match-up, which is obviously a huge positive for this Heat team.

Consequently, Miami will most likely have to face the number one team in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks, in a possible second round match-up. And the Heat will feel much better than the Bucks do heading into that match-up. Miami is 2-1 against the Bucks this year, and the one loss occurred this week in a game without Jimmy Butler, and the Heat lead by 17 at the half.

This seems to be best case scenario for this Heat team, since they can face a banged up Indiana team, and avoid a second round Boston or Toronto match-up, which would be much tougher for Miami than the Milwaukee match-up.

Miami needs either one win or one Indiana loss to secure the 4 seed, which doesn’t matter much since there’s no home court advantage. We may see some of Miami’s veteran players sit out during these games, or will definitely get limited minutes.

If the Heat face off against the Indiana Pacers in the first round, it will be expected that Miami brings the same energy that they brought last night. Especially since there are so many intriguing match-ups on the floor, including Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren.

 

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Take-Down over Indiana Pacers

The Miami Heat played a much anticipated game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, and got the win 114-92. After a tie game at the half, Miami came out sharp in the second half on both sides of the ball. Here’s five takeaways from this big win…

#1: Jae Crowder continues to be Heat’s most consistent player.

Due to the amount of lethal shooters on this roster, including Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder seems to get left out of the conversation. But, he continues to be the Heat’s most consistent player on both sides of the floor, and is shooting 60% from three in the bubble. Jae Crowder is also one of those guys that does the dirty work for you, which obviously fits well into this system. This is why Jae made his way into the starting lineup and replaced Meyers Leonard, since versatility matters on this current team more than ever due to their depth in wings.

#2: Bench unit struggles with Goran Dragic moving to the starting lineup.

Goran Dragic got the surprising start in tonight’s game against the Pacers, but consequently caused a problem. Goran had such a groove with the second unit, which was one of Miami’s biggest strengths this season. When most teams had bench drop offs, Miami didn’t. But today, it was evident they did. When Goran exited the game, it wasn’t the same bench unit we’ve seen all season, which caused Indiana to comeback early. Goran came back into the game with the second unit in the second quarter, which seemed to settle Miami down on offense, and led to Miami’s second half display. Although there’s been questions about taking Kendrick Nunn out of the starting lineup all together, it may be better to continue this rotation and let Goran and Tyler run the offense smoothly with the bench unit.

#3: Derrick Jones Jr tries to lock up a spot in the rotation.

Derrick Jones Jr has been in and out of the Heat’s rotation this season, but this may be Derrick’s time to lock up his spot. He has proved that he can guard every team’s best player, but his offense has been in question. But today, he showed he can use his vertical spacing to his advantage. And he’s beginning to improve his shooting from beyond the arc, which if he can hit one to two threes in a playoff game, that can change a game. There also seemed to be a special connection between Derrick and Goran Dragic tonight, since about 80% of his points came from a Goran lob. Derrick has said time and time again that he wants to be here, but he will need to prove his impact during this last stretch before he goes into free agency.

#4: Bam Adebayo comes out aggressive out of the gate, which is essential.

Bam Adebayo started the first quarter with fire in his eyes when he had the ball in his hands. And with Myles Turner basically daring Bam to take a mid range jump shot, he took it with no hesitation, but it wasn’t falling. The thing is with Bam though, it doesn’t need to fall to help the offense. There are plenty of guys on the court who can hit these jumpers on offense, but they can’t open up the floor like Bam does. He also had a defensive motor tonight, which he brings every night, but it seemed to have a little more energy behind it, due to the Myles Turner match-up. Myles got the spot on the USA team over Bam, which obviously didn’t sit right with him. If Bam can bring this energy and aggressiveness every night, it benefits this team’s offensive versatilities even more.

#5: TJ Warren truly isn’t in Jimmy Butler’s league.

Everybody has been waiting for the TJ Warren-Jimmy Butler match-up since their scuffle back in January. Fast forward eight months later and Jimmy Butler still hasn’t forgotten. TJ Warren has been going on an absolute scoring tear in the bubble. Emphasis on scoring. Someone in Jimmy Butler’s league would have to be able to score, rebound, play-make, defend, and lead the way Jimmy does. Jimmy showcased this today scoring 19 points, along with 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Jimmy also mentioned after their game in January that “I can guard him and he can’t guard me.” Jimmy guarded TJ to start the game, while TJ guarded Jae Crowder, which definitely raises an eyebrow. This was also far from a meaningless game since Miami is trying to secure the four seed, which may ultimately mean a first round match-up against TJ Warren and the Indiana Pacers.

Marlins Loss

5 Takeaways from Marlins Loss to Mets

The Miami Marlins were riding high after 4-3 Friday night win over the New York Mets. The team ran off six straight wins and vaulted to the top of the NL East. But moving into the weekend, Marlins bats fell silent and the pitchers weren’t as sharp, especially during Sunday’s loss.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins loss to the Mets.

Needed the Big Hit

This Marlins loss, and the one that preceded it on Saturday, were frustrating. Not because the revamped roster and piecemeal pitching staff were overmatched. No, the most frustrating element proved to be the lack of timely hitting.

On Sunday afternoon, the Marlins went 2-for10 with runners in scoring position. In all, they stranded 10 runners. Each inning saw at least one Marlin reach base, but the team managed just two runs.

In the second inning, the Marlins had two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom on the ropes. They’d loaded the bases with one out, but followed that with a strikeout and ground out, producing no runs.

This followed a similar refrain from Saturday, where the Marlins went 2-for-7 with runners-in-scoring-position. They stranded nine runners in the 8-4 loss.

“We just didn’t get that big hit,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after the game. “Didn’t really capitalize.”

Bright Spot in the Marlins Loss: Eddy Alvarez

One of the bright spots over the weekend was the play of Eddy Alvarez. The Olympic speedskating medalist flashed his moxie on defense and provided a lift on offense.

On Friday, Alvarez stole an extra base-hit from Jeff McNeill in the eighth inning. He then knocked down Wilson Ramos’ two-out grounder with the bases loaded and recovered in time to throw out the slow-footed catcher to end the Mets’ rally.

Sunday saw Alvarez register his first hits in MLB. His first hit came on an infield single in the second inning against deGrom. In the fourth, he singled then stole second base (his first steal in MLB). Then in the eighth, Alvarez put a charge into the ball to the opposite field and picked up his first double.

Alvarez said after the game that getting that first hit lifted a weight off his shoulders. He also thought he’d tied the game for a moment in the eighth with his double. He has opposite field power and thought that hit had a chance to get out.

Bright Spot in the Marlins Loss: Jesus Aguilar

Before Sunday’s game, Mattingly praised Jesus Aguilar.

“Jesus has been great, in a lot of different areas,” he said. “He’s got plenty of power. This guy can hit, he’s got good hands. He’s got a good eye up there. He’s such a positive influence.” Mattingly went on to say that Aguilar’s personality has been “awesome” and that he’s a well-rounded hitter, not just a power threat.

During the game, Aguilar flashed that power on Sunday when he connected on his team-leading fourth home run of the season. His fifth inning blast off deGrom pulled the Marlins to within one run.

Six of Aguilar’s 11 hits this season have gone for extra bases (two doubles, four home runs). He leads the team in batting average (.306), slugging percentage (.694) and OPS (1.036). He’s second in RBI (8). This discounted both Miguel Rojas and Magneuris Sierra, who have 10 and nine at-bats apiece.

His bat in the middle of the lineup puts pressure on opposing pitchers, but he needs guys on in front of him in order to maximize the damage.

Monte Harrison & Jonathan Villar struggle

Both Monte Harrison and Jonathan Villar came to the plate on Sunday with a chance to break the game open. Neither hitter was able to have even a productive out, though.  The two combined to go 0-for-9 total, including 0-for-6 with runners-in-scoring-position. They struck out a combined eight times and stranded 11 runners on base, which directly led to this Marlins loss.

With deGrom on the ropes early in the game, both Harrison came up with the bases loaded and one out in the second. He struck out. Villar followed with a soft groundball out to end the inning.

Harrison followed his decent Saturday performance (one hit, two RBI, two BB) by taking a significant step back. Harrison has nine times in 16 at-bats in his six games. Yes, he has game-changing speed, but he needs to be able to put the bat on the ball.

Villar struggled throughout the series. After going 6-for-14 with a homer, two RBI and two walks, Villar has gone hitless in his last two games. In the series versus the Mets, Villar went 1-1-15 with nine strikeouts. He was 0-for-5 with runners-in-scoring-position.

If the Marlins are going to be successful this season, they’ll need production from Villar and Harrison. These two hitters need to find a way out of their slumps and have productive at-bats for the team.

Defensive Miscues

During the four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, the Marlins did all the little things. Productive outs, clean innings and no errors. This rag-tag group of Major Leaguers needs to be sharp in order to stay competitive and have a shot to win.

On Friday night, a Brian Anderson throwing error allowed the Mets to score a run in the eighth inning. It almost cost the Marlins the game. On Saturday, Anderson followed with another throwing error.

On Sunday, though, a pair of errors in the field cost the Marlins runs in what was ultimately a two-run loss. Corey Dickerson’s fielding error in the third inning cost Pablo Lopez a run. Dickerson botched a seemingly routine fly ball.

Later in the game, Matt Joyce nearly cost his team a run after a fielding error in right field. It took a highlight-reel play from Lopez to get Michael Conforto at home in the next at-bat.

If the Marlins are going to maintain their hold on the NL East and make a push for the playoffs, they’ll need a much cleaner effort than the one that came during this loss.

5 Post-Game Comments from Spoelstra, Herro, Adebayo

After another tough loss to the Phoenix Suns, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo talked about the game in a very positive way. This included a lot of high praise for their new starting point guard, Tyler Herro. Here’s what was said…

Post-Game Comment #1:

Tyler Herro has been playing shooting guard since his arrival into the NBA, since that is his main position. But, the Heat have seemed to want Tyler to expand his role into a primary point guard. Tyler says, “I felt comfortable.” That’s the most important trait for a point guard, especially one who hasn’t played much point previously. He also mentions that he’s been working on this aspect of game during the break. Spoelstra also says that he thinks Tyler did a solid job today, which may ultimately mean he will have that starting spot for good.

Post-Game Comment #2:

Bam Adebayo was asked about the Heat’s most important part of the team that needs to be fixed. He says, “Knowing how to win in close games.” This is definitely much harder to do without your best player on the court. Both Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic have been huge in second halves of games this season, since they slow the game down for the young guys on the team. As time goes on, Bam and Tyler will begin to pick up on things at ends of games, which is the best thing for this team in the long run.

Post-Game Comment #3:

Coach Erik Spoelstra talked about the improvements Bam has made and some things he already has instilled. He says, “Getting Bam to play winning basketball is not high, because he does that.” He seems to have the ultimate trust in Bam, but it seems as if Bam doesn’t have that same trust in himself at times. Bam always is reluctant to shoot the mid-range, which is something players and coaches have been urging him to do. He also gets slightly passive at ends of games, which when you’re the team’s best player on the court, you need to look to score. Bam also made a huge play at the end of the game which was a block that was called a goal tend, but Spoelstra thinks otherwise.

Post-Game Comment #4:

Tyler Herro expands on his ball handling conversation with some information on how this came about. Tyler says, “I’ve always had the ball in my hands, in high school, and in college some.” This is definitely true that Tyler was the point guard in high school, but he was a straight scoring point guard. He says this time in earlier years has helped him grow, and feels he can impact the game in other ways that shooting. He mentions it’s very tough to balance play-making and scoring, and says “I’m sure I missed some guys open tonight.” Even if he did miss some open guys, it doesn’t matter when you’re a 20 year old rookie with the amount of natural skills in his arsenal.

Post-Game Comment #5:

The Heat had some leeway with their seeding at the beginning of the bubble games, but after a few losses, these Indiana match-ups matter much more. Bam says, “This is bigger than (TJ) or Jimmy. We want to get in the playoffs and make a run.” This team is no longer worried about the petty fights that occured earlier in the season, it’s now time to win. Spoelstra talks about this Indiana match-up with the same exact mindset, saying “You know us, it’s who we are,” when referring to approaching these games with a winning mentality. This is not to say Jimmy won’t rise up to the occasion for this match-up, which very well may happen, but this team is much more concerned about falling to 6 than fighting with TJ Warren.

5 Takeaways from Suns Victory Over Short-Handed Heat Team

The Miami Heat played yet another game short-handed against the Phoenix Suns, due to Jimmy Butler, Goran Drgaic, and Kendrick Nunn being out. Miami fell short to Phoenix, 119-112, even with big games from the Heat’s young projects. Here are some takeaways from this game…

#1: Duncan Robinson uses team’s offensive shortage to expand his game.

Duncan Robinson seems to be one of the keys to every game the Heat play, but this was a different Duncan. I previously mentioned him expanding his game on the ball in this game, due to the fact that three of Miami’s four best scorers were out. Duncan definitely has some tricks in his bag that don’t involve catching and shooting, but he hasn’t been able to showcase them much. Tonight, he showed his ability to attack the basket, which seemed to catch the Suns off guard since it definitely wasn’t on the scouting report. People also forget that this is basically Duncan’s rookie year, which means he has plenty of time to develop this side of his game.

#2: Gabe Vincent utilizes minutes to try and earn rotation spot, but showcases another aspect.

With Kendrick Nunn away from the team at the moment, Tyler Herro was called up to the starting lineup and consequently lead to Gabe Vincent minutes off of the bench. This gave Gabe the opportunity to prove he can get minutes on this team, especially with Kendrick’s recent struggles. Although Gabe struggled shooting the ball from deep, which is his strength, he proved the other parts of his game are just as strong. He seemed to be a good play-maker, a high basketball IQ, and most importantly solid defense. These are some things that have been in question for Kendrick Nunn over the last few games, which may ultimately lead to yet another lineup change.

#3. Miami using new strategy, which is attacking team’s best player.

The Heat have seemed to try out a new offensive strategy through these few bubble games, which has been to get the other team’s best player in foul trouble. They have continued to attack early in games over the last week, which lead to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Marcus Smart early foul trouble. They also tried to attack Devin Booker early in today’s game, but it evidently didn’t lead to fouls. This may not be a bad idea to do, especially with the amount of physical offensive players on this roster. This also points to another advantage for the Heat over the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s been pretty easy to get 76er’s star Joel Embiid in foul trouble this year, which may ultimately be their game plan in a series against him. This may be something to keep your eye on over the course of Miami’s next few games.

#4: Tyler Herro tries to match his player comparison, Devin Booker.

Tyler Herro has continually been compared to Devin Booker, which is as good of a comparison as you can get. Tyler has said that he tries to model his game after him, and has watched a lot of film of him over the break. And with Tyler being the starting point guard tonight, he was looked at to try and match Devin Booker’s scoring, which is far from an easy task. But, Tyler Herro did just about that. He showed a lot of Devin Booker flashes scoring the ball with 25 points, but really stepped up as the point guard. He continues to showcase different ball-handling packages and most importantly his play-making, which he ended the game with 10 assists. He seems to be very comfortable at this position now, even more comfortable than Kendrick looked at the point. Tyler used this as a statement game to prove he will be the starting point guard on this team for a long time to come.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s offensive motor more important now than ever.

After Bam talked about his body not responding as quickly as it usually does during a media session yesterday, there were a lot of questions about him in today’s game. But, he began to make that jump that was much needed in a game without three of your offensive talents. He also seemed confident in his jump shot from 15 feet early in the first, which seemed Chris Bosh-esque, but it just wasn’t falling. This lead to the basket attacking Bam Adebayo that Heat fans have been waiting for in the second quarter. This included some post-moves, finishing at the rim, and a pair of And-1 plays. With all of the elite shooting on this roster, Bam is key to open up the floor for all of their shooters. Once Bam becomes a consistent offensive problem for other teams, this will elevate this Heat team to the next level.

Pat Venditte

Meet the Marlins: Pat Venditte

The Miami Marlins roster machinations continue as the team deals with the fallout of the team’s COVID-19 outbreak. On Saturday, the team announced LHP Daniel Castano will make his MLB debut and start for the club in New York. Miami also announced several rosters moves, including placing recently acquired LHP Richard Bleier on the 10-day IL with an elbow strain, and activating Brian Moran and Pat Venditte from the taxi squad.

Last night’s starter, Humberto Mejia, has been optioned the Miami’s alternate training site (Jupiter), but he’ll remain with the club.

Marlins: Pat Venditte

Pat Venditte signed a minor-league deal with Miami this offseason. At 35-years-old, Venditte remains one of the most unique players in MLB history. He’s a “switch pitcher,” meaning he has the ability to work off the mound with either arm, depending upon the handedness of the hitter.

Over a four year big-league career, Venditte has gone 2-2. He’s posted a 5.03 ERA and 1.309 WHIP over 68 innings pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. He’s registered 53 strikeouts and 28 walks over that span. Venditte has pitched for Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco throughout his career.

In 2019, Venditte made two appearances with the Giants. He gave up six earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched. Venditte was far more affective with the Triple-A Sacramento RiverCats. He went 6-2 with a 2.85 ERA and a 1.014 WHIP over 47.1 innings pitched. He registered 59 strikeouts and 17 walks with Sacramento.

Over his career, Venditte has been more effective against left-handed batters. Lefties have a .179 batting average versus Venditte, whereas right-handed hitters have a .286 batting average against him.

The Switch Pitcher

The ambidextrous Venditte could be a unique solution to MLB’s new three-batter minimum for relievers. The MLB instituted the new rule for 2020, stating pitchers must face a minimum of three batters in an appearance or pitch until the end of a half inning. This new rule was instituted in an effort to reduce the number of pitching changes in a game and to speed up average game times.

For Venditte, he has to declare the handedness he’ll use for each batter and can’t switch arms during an at-bat. Unlike the pitcher, the batter can switch continuously from the left to the right side of the plate during the same at-bat. However, there is one exception: never during the pitcher’s windup. If the batter switches sides during the windup, he’s out.

Venditte uses a customized glove that allows him to change his throwing hand depending upon the batter he’s facing. Pat Venditte’s another veteran arm with Major League experience for this Marlins bullpen, which may as well install a revolving door at this point.

Miami Hurricanes

Canes nab another 2022 commitment, this time from Tampa area

All while the Canes round up their 2021 recruiting class and begin Fall camp, they still found time to get a head start on the next one.

 

 

Defensive coordinator Blake Baker secured a commitment from four-star DT Brandon Cleveland on Friday. Cleveland is the second commitment for the Class of 2022, joining DE Jamaal Jackson, and hails from the Carrollwood Day School in Tampa. He chose the Canes over Florida State.

 

He is currently ranked as the 13th-best DT in the nation amongst current high school juniors and 175th overall according to the 247Sports Composite.

 

Measuring in at 6’3”, 260 pounds, Cleveland is the perfect blend of size and speed as his coaches have lined him up on the inside and outside. He compiled 76 tackles, 18 TFL’s, and 9.5 sacks to go along with a blocked punt when he played for Seffner Christian Academy. 

It is early to project which positions are going to be a priority for Miami in the 2022 class due to the uncertainty over which players leave early for the NFL Draft but also the eligibility of early enrollees in the 2021 class should the season be pushed to spring.

 

Stay tuned to 5 Reasons Sports for the latest in Miami Hurricanes news.

Miami Heat’s Adebayo, Nunn Among NBA Award Finalists

The NBA released their top 3 finalists for each NBA award today, which included Miami’s Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo. These awards are given based on the player’s play before the NBA shut down, which was when Heat players were rolling. Here’s the award finalists, along with some predictions.

Most Valuable Player Finalists: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and James Harden

There was not much of a surprise here, since these three guys have been the best players of the 2020 season statistically. But, this award is not a statistical award. The reason for the award was to reward the player who was the most “valuable” to their team. For example, players like Chris Paul and Jimmy Butler have been two of the most valuable pieces this season due to their leadership to elevate their respective teams. This is not to say that these guys shouldn’t be the finalists, since Lebron and Giannis have lead their teams to the number one seed in their respective conferences. Giannis should have the slight edge over LeBron for reasons that include: a better record, not having a top 5 second option, and a case could be made a harder conference. But, if this award is just based on statistics, maybe it’s best to change the award to Best Statistical Player.

Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Kendrick Nunn

It was pretty clear that Ja Morant and Zion Williamson would be numbers one and two on this ballot, but some questioned the third slot. Kendrick Nunn was the second best rookie in the league before Zion Williamson made his NBA debut, and he was still up their with these guys after his return. Some of Kendrick’s latest play has forced people not to remember his offensive success early in the season, mostly because it’s been about 12 months since the season first began. And as mentioned in the tweet above, he hasn’t had the easiest route to where he is now. Although he’s been great for Miami this season, he didn’t carry the same load that a guy like Ja Morant did, which gives him the slight edge.

Prediction: Ja Morant

 

Most Improved Player: Bam Adebayo, Brandon Ingram, Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic being considered a most improved player surprised some people, but it really isn’t that crazy. Luka went from 21 points a game to 29 points a game, and increased his assist and rebound average by 3 and 2 respectively. But, he hasn’t made the same improvements that Bam Adebayo and Brandon Ingram did. The reason the Ingram and Adebayo race is so close is because their games are totally different. Ingram is a natural scorer while Bam is an all around player. This is another award that the NBA seems to always look in the PPG column, when in reality it’s about total improvements. Bam has went from a back up center to a top 5 center in the NBA, and has played a major role on a contender while Ingram wasn’t even a contender for an eight seed until he had the help of Zion Williamson. Based on an all around improvements, Bam Adebayo clearly has the edge over Brandon Ingram and Luka Doncic.

Prediction: Bam Adebayo

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert

While these three players have clearly been at the front of this award all season, there are some other names that should’ve been considered as well. Ben Simmons and Bam Adebayo are two players that were most likely close behind, since they play both interior and perimeter defense at such a high level. These finalists do this as well, which is why it’s basically a toss up of who you choose. Giannis Antetokounmpo will probably take this award home, due to his strength, quickness, and length on the defensive side. If you asked NBA players who they wouldn’t want to go against out of these three, it would probably be Giannis unanimously, since he’s just a 7 foot athletic freak of nature.

Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

Sixth Man of the Year: Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Lou Williams

For starters, how can two people from the same team be considered a “sixth” man. Especially when the stats are so close between a bunch of different bench pieces, including Goran Dragic, how does he get the edge. Not saying he hasn’t been great, because if there was a seventh man award, I’d give it to him. Anyway, Goran Dragic has had as good of a year as both Lou and Dennis had, except Goran’s had to carry much more of a load. Not saying Goran should win the award, but a top three finish should’ve been awarded. And between Lou and Dennis, Dennis should have the edge over Lou Williams this year, due to both efficiency reasons and, as said in the tweet above, not having another bench anchor with him.

Prediction: Dennis Schroder

Daniel Castano

Meet the Marlins: Daniel Castano

The Miami Marlins five-game winning streak has come amid unprecedented roster turnover. The club has made nearly 40 roster moves since resuming their season after an 8-day COVID-19 hiatus. Come game time tonight, Miami will have seen eight straight days of MLB debuts, with the latest being Daniel Castano.

So many new faces have joined the club that Marlins manager Don Mattingly admitted to not having personally met players who were taking the field for him.

“A pretty good roster turnover here,” Mattingly said last week. “Some of the guys I’ve never met and still at this point have not met — texted with, but not met. There are other guys that we’re comfortable with that we know are coming. They were part of our summer camp and actually our spring also so parts of it are comfortable.”

Marlins catcher Francisco Cervelli voiced a similar sentiment, saying he was meeting pitchers for the first time at the mound.

The Marlins will have their ninth different starting pitcher take the hill for their ninth consecutive game. Tonight, it will be 25-year-old prospect Daniel Castano, whose contract was among those selected by the team to fill the void left by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Marlins’ Daniel Castano’s Career Thus Far

Miami acquired Castano as part of the Marcell Ozuna deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 25-year-old lefty came to the Marlins with RHP Sandy Alcantara, RHP Zac Gallen and OF Magneuris Sierra on 12/14/2017. The Cardinals drafted Castano in the 19th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Baylor University.

In 2017 with the Cardinals organization, Castano went 9-3 with a 2.57 ERA for Short Season-A State College over 14 starts, striking out 81 in 91.0 innings. He earned a New York-Penn League Midseason All-Star berth that year.

After coming over to the Marlins, Castano moved through three levels of Single-A ball, ultimately earning an MILB.com Organizational All-Star berth in 2018. He made eight starts for Single-A Greensboro, going 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 50.0 innings and striking out 52. 14 starts for Jupiter followed, going 5-8 with a 4.74 ERA in 76.0 innings. He finished the season in Advanced-A Jupiter. All told, he went with a 9-12 record with a 3.93 ERA.

Castano split 2019 between Advanced-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. He made 12 appearances for Jupiter, going 0-2 with a 3.82 ERA in 33.0 innings pitched, striking out 31. He earned a promotion to Jacksonville on May 27 and went 7-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 18 games (11 Starts), striking out 73 in 86.0 innings pitched.

Castano doesn’t have overpowering stuff, unlike fellow prospect Jorge Guzman. He registers his outs through command and control. His fastball measures 88-92 mph, topping out at 94. There’s some sink to it and he hides the ball well. He throws strikes and has an effective, slow curveball. He’s has shown considerable growth over his minor league career and will look to fill the void in the starting rotation.

Heat’s Kendrick Nunn leaves NBA Bubble, leaving guard shortage (w/UPDATE)

The Miami Heat, already likely without Goran Dragic (ankle) and Jimmy Butler (foot) for Saturday’s game against the hot Phoenix Suns, will be without Kendrick Nunn for longer.

Nunn left the NBA’s Bubble on Friday to attend to a personal issue, according to multiple sources.

UPDATE: He is expected to return this weekend, to begin the NBA’s mandated quarantine period, which starts at four days. That would make him available for the playoffs that begin the week of August 17th.

The rookie guard was late coming to the Bubble after testing positive for Covid-19, but this is not related to the disease or any other health matter in any way.

It also, according to a source, is not directly related to Nunn’s struggles on the court, which caused coach Erik Spoelstra to publicly support him in a Zoom conference call with media earlier on Friday.

There have been concerns of late inside the organization about Nunn’s focus of late, according to sources. But they were aware he might need to leave the bubble to address the issue.

Without Nunn, the Heat will likely start rookie Tyler Herro — who seems ready for an ascension — or rookie Gabe Vincent, who was listed as probable after being unavailable the past couple of games. Both Herro and Vincent will probably play a lot, because Miami is now very short on perimeter players.

Goran Dragic spoke to the media Friday for the first time since rolling his ankle twice against Boston on Tuesday, and said that the injury was not as bad as he initially thought, and that he would try to get some extra work in on Friday night. But he also said he wants to be judicious, and with the Heat likely headed for a 4 or 5 seed no matter what happens in the final four games, there’s no reason to push him.

 

 

The other question is when Jimmy Butler returns.

He missed Tuesday and Thursday’s game with a sore foot, which is not believed to keep him out for any games once the playoffs start the week of August 17th.

But he also is being careful, as is the team, not to do too much too fast.

And he was at practice with the team.

Erik Spoelstra has spoken about the Heat’s depth being an advantage.

It will certainly be tested now, against a Suns squad that is playing well behind Devin Booker, and aiming for a play-in spot in the Western Conference.