Marlins home stand

5 Takeaways from Marlins First Home Stand

The Miami Marlins completed their first home stand of the 2022 season. While the Fish looked great through the first series of the home stand, winning 3-1 over the Philadelphia Phillies, Miami’s offense languished against the St Louis Cardinals. But a lineup change and the long-ball helped the Marlins salvage their first home stand.

The Marlins closed their first two series at loanDepot park with a 4-3 record. Although the first two games of the series versus the Cardinals were frustrating, Miami managed to grab the final game of the series with a 5-0 win on Thursday.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins first home stand of the season.

Starting Pitching Dominates Marlins First Home Stands

The strength of this Marlins team remains the starting rotation, and that was on full display during this seven-game home stand. In the series win over the Phillies, Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Elieser Hernandez combined to throw 17.2 innings in the series, allowing just three earned runs in the process (1.53 ERA). Against the Cardinals, Alcantara and Lopez took their games to another level.

Alcantara tossed eight shutout innings in the 2-0 loss on Wednesday. He allowed four hits, with six strikeouts and one walk. Alcantara needed 27 pitches to get out of the first inning, but limited St Louis to just three hits the rest of the way. He faced no more than four batters in any frame after the first, and never needed more than 12 pitches to get out of an inning.

Alcantara lowered his career ERA versus his former team to 0.99, surrendering just three earned runs over 27.1 innings pitched. He’s struck out 29 Cardinals over those four starts, but has yet to register a win.

Lopez, meanwhile, celebrated his recent nuptials with another impressive performance to start the year. The 26-year-old right tied a career-high with nine strikeouts and lowered his season ERA to 0.52, now the lowest mark in MLB. Lopez allowed just three hits over seven innings, and did not see a runner reach scoring position.

Lopez’s performance extended a 15-inning scoreless streak for Marlins starting pitchers during the home stand. His changeup was particularly effective on Thursday, with five of his nine Ks coming on that pitch. Lopez has a 50 percent swing-and-miss rate with his changeup early on this season.

His 0.52 ERA through three starts is the third-best three-start ERA in franchise history, trailing only Josh Beckett (0.45 ERA in 2005) and Dontrelle Willis (0.00 ERA in 2004).


The Sanchize? Jesus Sanchez Impresses During Marlins Home Stand

Jesus Sanchez took over as the Marlins centerfielder this season, though there were some questions regarding his long-term potential at the position. But with his torrid start to the season, Sanchez has quieted the critics.

Sanchez played in six of the seven games for the Marlins in this home stand, sitting out only once when Philadelphia started a left-handed pitcher. During those six games, Sanchez hit .440 with a 1.241 OPS. He recorded a Marlins team-high 11 hits during the home stand.

Overall, Sanchez leads the Fish in batting average (.356), on-base percentage (.396), total hits (16), and runs scored (nine). His three home runs and two triples are tied with Jazz Chisholm Jr for the team lead. His nine RBI trail only Chisholm (12) for the team lead in that category. He’s also second in Slugging Percentage (.667) and On-Base-Plus-Slugging (1.063).

Sanchez continues to improve at the plate, producing at an impressive rate, and he’s looked solid defensively in centerfield. Although he made a questionable base-running decision on Wednesday, he showed immediate improvement in that regard the very next day.

To help the Marlins get the win on Thursday, Sanchez went 2-for-3, scoring three runs. He scored Miami’s first run on a fielder’s choice in the second, scored on a passed ball in the fourth, then put the game out of reach with a solo homer in the sixth.


Chisholm Makes a Case to Play Every Day

The idea that Jazz Chisholm Jr is a platoon player remains one of the more maddening elements early on, and one the Marlins need to dismiss altogether. Chisholm has sat against lefties, and languished at the bottom of the lineup, for long enough. In his first start of the season as a leadoff hitter, Chisholm helped the Marlins avoid a three-game sweep to end the home stand.

A Miami Herald report noted Chisholm’s sitting and lineup placement was not punishment for off- on on-field antics. But rather, a reflection that Marlins manager Don Mattingly felt other, more experienced hitters in the Marlins lineup warranted more at-bats. But at this point, Chisholm is one of the few hitters producing for Miami.

Chisholm leads the team in RBI (12) and is tied for the lead in homers (3) and triples (2). He doesn’t technically have enough at-bats yet to qualify for the lead in the average statistics and percentages. That said, Chisholm’s .774 Slugging and 1.107 OPS are tops on the team.

He and Sanchez make up an exciting, young nucleus for this Miami lineup, and one that needs to play every day at this point. While his splits against lefties lag in terms of on-base percentage, he can only improve with additional reps.

The team remains cautious with Chisholm, though, especially after a dramatic drop-off in production during the second half last season. Chisholm registered an OPS below .700 after posting a .969 OPS through the first month of 2021. His offensive metrics dropped across the board after the All-Star break, so load management seems to be part of the team’s thinking early on.

But it’s hard to keep a player with his ceiling off the field, especially when he can do this:


Producing with RISP still a Concern Following Marlins First Home Stand

The Marlins struggled with runners-in-scoring-position during their 1-4 road trip to start the year. Miami managed just an .069 batting average with RISP (2-for-29) through those first five games. However, during their first home series this season, Marlins bats woke up with runners at second or third.

Against the Phillies, Miami hit .333 with runners-in-scoring-position (14-for-42) in that situation. But against the Cardinals, the offense struggled once again. The Marlins scored just one run through the first two games of this final series of the home stand, going 0-for-11 with RISP. Miami stranded 16 runners on base in those two losses.

On Thursday, the Marlins offense finally broke through with five runs. But the team still stranded five runners and only went 2-for-10 with runners-in-scoring-position.

Through 12 games, Miami’s .196 batting averaged ranks 24th in MLB. Their .641 OPS in that spot ranks 19th. No surprise, Chisholm and Sanchez are among the team leaders in this metric. Chisholm’s seven RBI with RISP lead the team (3-for-7), while Sanchez trails with six. Sanchez has the most hits in that situation (6-for-16), and Joey Wendle has the best batting average (.500, 4-for-8, four RBI).

Brian Anderson, Garrett Cooper, and Avisail Garcia are a combined 0-for-20 with RISP (10 strikeouts). Jesus Aguilar, Jorge Soler, and Miguel Rojas each have one hit in that situation, but remain a combined 3-for-19 (six RBI).

Bender Remains a Backend Bullpen Question

Mattingly intimated during Spring Training that the team would take a closer-by-committee approach early in the season. That’s hasn’t been the case thus far, with Anthony Bender playing the role of closer through the first few weeks of the season. He’s been the Miami’s only reliever to get a turn in a save situation.

But while Bender’s registered a pair of saves early on, following his appearance on Wednesday, the 27-year-old second-year reliever has now surrendered the tying or winning run(s) in three of his five outings.

With the game on the line on Wednesday, Bender served up the game-winning home run to St Louis’ Nolan Arenado. He threw a 98-mph sinker that caught too much of the plate and Arenado was able to turn on it. Bender’s failing, and the utter lack of offense, spoiled starter Sandy Alcantara’s gem.

Bender now sports an 8.31 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP over his first 4.1 innings of work this season. He’s lost two games, but is 2-for-3 in save opportunities. He’s given up five hits, including two home runs, in late-and-close situations.

Should Mattingly search for another late-game option, Cole Sulser may get a look. Sulser’s given up only one run over his first 4.2 innings of work with the Marlins. He has 13 career saves and has surrendered just three hits and a walk in late-and-close situations so far this season.

The Marlins presumptive closer entering the 2022 season was Dylan Floro, but the reliever landed on the IL thanks to a rotator cuff injury. Floro threw a 16-pitch simulated game last Sunday and was set to report to Jupiter for another simulated game this week.

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