Spring Training is finally coming to a close, and the fresh breath of new life enters MLB clubs around the league. The Miami Marlins enter April baseball with chips on their shoulders. Each player has individually expressed that this squad has something to prove: that they are here to contend. The atmosphere around Major League Baseball suggests that no one believes the Marlins were quite good enough to be in a legitimate NLDS series. Last year, those claims were well-founded, as a young Marlins roster overperformed statistically and utilized a small sample size of games to sneak into the playoffs. With a revamped roster, Miami looks to stun the baseball world again, or at least prove that they aren’t one-hit wonders.
Here is a preview of what Miami will bring to the table in 2021:
Electric Young Arms
It is no surprise that this tops the list. The Marlins look to bring a top-5 rotation into the 2021 season, headed by Sandy Alcantara. With Sixto Sanchez starting his year in the minors, the definitive rotation consists of Sandy, Pablo Lopez, Elieser Hernandez, Trevor Rogers. These exceptionally talented young arms improve with each outing and will be the most well-rounded pitching core the Marlins have seen in years. With 3/4 of these arms (and 4/5 once Sixto is back) coming off fresh Postseason experience, there is even more experience to go on. Sandy, Pablo, and Sixto are all dark-horses to win the NL Cy Young and look poised to lead the Marlins to many victories throughout the season. Expect an electric win-filled year from these arms.
Stable Backend Bullpen Arms
The Marlins have not had a surplus of arms in years. With timely trades and signings, the Miami bullpen is a force to reckon with going into this season. Anthony Bass and Yimi Garcia, two solid righties, cement the backend of the rotation, and hope to be as effective as the Garcia/Kintzler combination was last year. Unlike 2020, however, there is a solid middle of the bullpen to look forward to. Dylan Floro, John Curtiss, and Richard Bleier provide stability in the middle innings in games where the young arms reach their pitch limit. With multiple members of this bullpen posting sub-3 ERAs throughout their careers, expect the bullpen to be one of the most successful Miami has seen.
High Potential Bats
Since the illustrious trades of Stanton, Yelich, and Ozuna, it has been no secret that the Marlins couldn’t contend on the offensive end. Last year, although successful, was no different. This year may be different. The Marlins field 8 guys, 6 of whom have had above-league-average years at the plate. Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Adam Duvall, Jesus Aguilar, Miguel Rojas, and Brian Anderson make up this list, with each trending upwards throughout their respective careers. Jorge Alfaro and Jazz Chisholm are the two bats in the everyday lineup without past success, but both have high upsides that can push them over the top. Also keep in mind that the Marlins first man out, Garrett Cooper, is statistically this team’s second best hitter. For the first time since the trades, the Marlins have an above average offensive core.
Overall for Marlins
This Marlins team will surprise some people. I predicted halfway through Spring Training that this Marlins team would make the playoffs, and I am sticking to my guns. After a month of watching and covering this team, it is clear that last year was no fluke. Whether or not they make the playoffs this year, there will be exciting baseball and many wins in Miami for years to come.