The Miami Marlins saw their seven-game winning streak snapped on Sunday, but the team still took two-of-three from the Seattle Mariners to win their third-straight series. Miami’s recent run of success included stellar starting pitching and timely hitting, but those elements were notably absent in Sunday’s 7-3 loss.
The Marlins find themselves in second place in the NL East with a 12-9 record. They’ve gone 8-2 against division opponents and 10-8 against all National League opponents thus far. Over their last 10 games overall, Miami’s 8-2, with a .243 team batting average and a 2.93 team ERA. The Marlins have outscored opponents by 10 runs over that span.
Luzardo Impressive in Marlins Win Over Mariners
Entering the season, the frontend of Miami’s starting rotation looked very much like the team’s top strength. And while there are some questions regarding who should be part of the backend of this rotation, Jesus Luzardo continued to make his case in the Marlins series win over the Mariners.
Luzardo tossed a season-high six innings in Miami’s 3-1 victory on Saturday. The 24-year-old lefty lowered his ERA to 3.10 after allowing just two hits and one earned run. He struck out five in the process, surrendering two walks.
#Marlins win, 3-1, vs. Mariners
— 7 straight victories for the first time since 2016
— Jesús Luzardo’s 34.1% K rate is 6th-best among #MLB starters with at least 20 IP
— Only blown save so far this season came on Opening Day pic.twitter.com/Yu4bShVe8G
— Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) May 1, 2022
Luzardo’s strikeout rate now sits at 34.1 percent for the season, putting him squarely in MLB’s top-10 for that metric. Credit for the improved strikeout rate goes in large part to increased velocity from Luzardo. Baseball Savant notes a 1.8 MPH increase in his fastball velocity, which checks in as the seventh-highest gain year-to-year among pitchers.
The biggest key for Luzardo has been locating his pitches and working ahead of hitters in order to get to his breaking ball, which he’s thrown 44.2 percent of the time. He’s registered 20 of his 28 strikeouts on his curveball so far this season.
Soler Starting to Find Success
One of the Miami’s top free agent additions, Jorge Soler, started to find more consistent success during the Marlins series win over the Mariners. The 30-year-old slugger crushed a Matt Brash four-seam fastball an estimated 468 feet on Friday (MLB’s third-longest home run of the season). The hit rocketed off Soler’s bat at 117.6 mph.
Jorge Soler – Miami Marlins (2) pic.twitter.com/QguXJ2GMfN
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) April 29, 2022
On Sunday, Soler had his first multi-hit game since April 22nd, and just his third of the season. His RBI single in the seventh inning beat the Mariners’ shift, then he followed that with his second homer of the series in the ninth. Over his past 10 games, Soler is 9-for-39 with three doubles, two home runs and six RBI.
Soler found success for the Marlins connecting on fastball offerings from Mariners pitchers, but he continues to struggle with offspeed pitches. Soler’s hitting just .100 on offspeed stuff. But there’s some bad luck mixed in to those results, because when he makes contact, his expected batting average in those spots is .337.
Marlins’ Garcia Remains Unlucky vs Mariners
Miami’s other major offseason addition, Avisail Garcia, continues to struggle at the plate, but some of those struggles can be attributed to bad luck as well.
On Sunday, Garcia’s liner with two runners on rocketed to right field with an exit velocity of 99.6. Off the bat, it had an expected batting average of .470, but was caught to end the inning. Something similar happened to Garcia in Washington, when a pair of batted balls failed to find the grass. Garcia had a flyout that sported an exit velocity of 98.6 and an expected batting average of .630. Had it dropped, it would have scored Garrett Cooper from second in that game. Earlier in that same contest, Garcia had a flyout with a 101.4 exit velocity and a .610 expected batting average.
Garica’s average exit velocity sits at 91.3 mph, which would be a career-high for him. That figure puts him in the 80th percentile among MLB hitters, and his 12.2 barrel percentage is nearly double the MLB average at this point.
Although his 1.4 walk-rate stands in the bottom one percent of the league, his .271 batting-average-on-balls-in-play (BABIP) shows additional bad luck, considering his actual batting average sits at .194.
Marlins Still Middling with RISP
Although the Marlins lost to the Mariners 7-3 on Sunday, it wasn’t for a lack of opportunity. Miami stranded 12 runners on base in the loss, and managed to go just 2-for-9 with runners-in-scoring-position. The Marlins were better in that metric in their two wins over the Mariners, going 5-for-10 on Friday and 2-for-7 on Saturday.
Still, the 24 stranded runners continues a worrying trend for the Fish. Although Miami ranks fifth in team on-base percentage in the NL (.325), following Sunday’s loss, the Marlins now check in with the fourth-most stranded runners so far this season (163) and second-most in the NL.
With runners-in-scoring-position, the Marlins rank 22nd in batting average (.223) and 20th in OPS (.696). Miami’s top average in that spot belongs to Joey Wendle (.462, 6-for-13), while Jesus Sanchez (9) and Jazz Chisholm Jr. (9) have driven in the most runs.
Alcantara Struggles for Marlins vs Mariners
The Marlins had their staff ace taking the mound with a chance to secure the team’s second consecutive sweep. But with the loss, Miami saw their season-long winning streak end at seven. They remain the only franchise in MLB history without a 10-game winning streak to its credit.
Sandy Alcantara took the mound for the Marlins on Sunday, starting opposite the Mariners’ ace Logan Gilbert. But instead of a pitcher’s duel, Alcantara struggled through his worst outing of the season. The 26-year-old righty surrendered a season-high five earned runs, which matched his total for the month of April.
Alcantara gave up two home runs and walked four batters. It was the third time this year he’s walked at least three. Last season, he walked 2.2 batters per nine innings. This season, that figure’s nearly doubled (4.1). Although he’s surrendered three homers already this season, he’s still at 0.9 HR/9, which is equal to his rate over the last two seasons.
Alcantara’s struggles with command have pushed his walk-rate to 11.3 percent, his highest such rate since 2018 (his second year). Last season, Alcantara’s walk-rate finished at a career-low 6.0 percent. The lack of command has also resulted in fewer strikeouts and a lower strike percentage (62.0). His pitches-per-inning (15.3) and pitches-per-plate-appearance (3.83) are both up as well.