Tag Archive for: Don Mattingly

Mattingly manager of the year

Marlins’ Mattingly Named NL Manager of the Year

Yesterday, Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) named Don Mattingly National League Manager of the Year. He joins Jack McKeon (2003) and Joe Girardi (2006), becoming the third Marlins manager to win the award.

Mattingly manned the helm for the Marlins during a turbulent season that eventually ended in the NLDS. The Marlins sailed over preseason predictions and vaulted into the NL playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons. Most baseball pundits pegged Miami for no more than 25 wins, but Mattingly helped lead the club to 31 wins and a playoff berth.

This isn’t the first award Mattingly has won this year. Earlier this offseason, Sporting News named Mattingly NL Manager of the Year. He became the third Marlins manager to win that award, joining Fredi Gonzalez (2008) and Girardi (2006).

Mattingly earned 20 first place votes from the BBWAA and finished with 124 points total. Second place went to Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler. David Ross, the Cubs’ skipper, came in third.

Mattingly Earned His Manager of the Year Award

Mattingly navigated an unprecedented start to the 2020 season. The Marlins were struck with a COVID-19 outbreak that saw 18 players and two coaches sidelined. Miami’s front office reshaped the roster on the fly while Mattingly was literally meeting players for the time on the pitching mound.

Even in a truncated 60-game schedule, Miami made 174 roster moves. The team used 61 different players over the 60 games. Miami’s nine different starting pitchers in their first nine games of the season set a new MLB record. Of the 61 players who appeared for the Fish this season, 21 were rookies. 18 of those made their MLB debut.

This unlikely group crashed the NL postseason and swept the Chicago Cubs in the process.

“That’s a step froward for us,” Mattingly said. “We’ve gotten a lot of young guys experience this year. We’ll have a tremendous amount of competition within our camp next year for jobs and who’s going to be where. This is just the start of it. One of our slogans a couple of years ago was ‘Just getting started’ and that’s what I feel like now.”

Rojas, Jeter on Mattingly

The fact that Mattingly navigated the team through that uncertainty and kept them competitive was not lost on most.

“He’s a great person,” said Marlins shortstop and de facto captain Miguel Rojas. “He’s a great human being before being a baseball player or manager. The communication he has with the players, the confidence he gave the players is unbelievable.”

Rojas and Mattingly both inked extensions with Miami in 2019 and they’ve come together to help lead this young club forward. Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has long called Mattingly a calming influence on this young group of players.

“Donnie believes in our vision,” Jeter said after extending Mattingly’s contract. “He believes in our direction, and he’s all in. He has shown a lot of patience with our young, developing team.”

Here’s the statement from Jeter following Mattingly being named NL Manager of the Year:

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award in 2020 than Donnie. His leadership and teamwork with staff and players were on display day in and day out in one of the most challenging seasons this sport has seen, as he guided the team to the organization’s first postseason appearance in 17 years. He continues to believe in our vision and invests in our young, talented players to help us work toward our goal of sustained success. This is another great honor in his storied baseball career.”

Mattingly, who was the American League MVP in 1985, becomes the fifth individual in Major League Baseball history to win both MVP and Manager of the Year honors. He joins Don Baylor, Kirk Gibson, Frank Robinson and Joe Torre.

Check out FiveReasonsSports.com and get one of the amazing Tees there! Click here to shop!


Don Mattingly Named Sporting News Manager of the Year

The Miami Marlins season may have come to an end last week. However, the team still finds itself as part of the national baseball discourse. On Thursday morning, Sporting News announced their 2020 MLB awards, and among the recipients was Marlins manager Don Mattingly.

After enduring a COVID-19 outbreak which cost him more than half of his Opening Day roster, Mattingly led the Marlins to the club’s first winning record since 2009 and its first playoff berth since 2003. The Marlins earned a Wild Card spot and summarily dumped the NL Central winners, the Chicago Cubs, in a two-game sweep. Miami ultimately fell to the Atlanta Braves, but the team earned the respect of the baseball world in the process.

Mattingly Earns Manager of the Year

The Marlins lost 18 players in the COVID-19 outbreak and that was just the start of a tumultuous season for the roster. Even in a truncated 60-game schedule, Miami made 174 roster moves. The team used 61 different players over the 60 games. Miami’s nine different starting pitchers in their first nine games of the season set a new MLB record. Of the 61 players who appeared in a game for the Fish this season, 21 were rookies. 18 of those were making their MLB debut.

The fact that Mattingly navigated the team through that uncertainty and kept them competitive was not lost on most.

“He’s a great person,” said Marlins shortstop and de facto captain Miguel Rojas. “He’s a great human being before being a baseball player or manager. The communication he has with the players, the confidence he gave the players is unbelievable.”

Rojas and Mattingly both inked extensions with the Marlins in September and they’ve come together to help lead this young club forward.

“Donnie believes in our vision,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said in September. “He believes in our direction, and he’s all in. He has shown a lot of patience with our young, developing team.”

That development was clearly evident this season. The Marlins bucked every prognostication that said they’d finished last in the NL East for a third-straight season. Mattingly became the first-ever National League manager in the Modern Era to lead his team to a playoff appearance after losing 100 games the previous season.

“The great thing about Donnie is he understands what we’ve been building here as an organization,” Jeter said. “He keeps our guys competing on a daily basis.”

Mattingly is the 15th manager in franchise history. This season, he became not only the longest tenured, but also the winningest. Mattingly’s 307 wins as a manager are most, as he passed Fredi Gonzalez (276) Jack McKeon (281).

Mattingly was no stranger to award as a player, winning an MVP and three Silver Sluggers, as well as nine Gold Gloves. He becomes the third Marlins manager to win the award from Sporting News, following Gonzalez (2008) and Joe Girardi (2006).

Marlins 2020 season

5 Takeaways from Marlins Successful 2020 Season

No one expected it outside of the Marlins’ Roger Dean Stadium facility in Jupiter, FL. No one believed in this Marlins group. They were picked to be last in the NL East. Most assumed they’d struggle to win 20 games. They were even labeled a ‘bottom feeders.’ But the Marlins always believed, and the proved the doubters wrong with a wildly successful 2020 season.

Miami’s run to the MLB postseason remains one of the most unlikely sports stories in recent memory. The season, which started amid a COVID-19 outbreak that saw the club lose more than half its Opening Day roster, turned into a celebration of resilience and development as the #WhyNotUs refrain took hold and the Marlins rocketed into playoffs.

“Our message to our guys was pretty simple,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said via Zoom. “We talked about it when we went to [Spring Training]. We talked about [how] it’s time. It’s time to take the next step forward as an organization.”

Miami certainly demonstrated that step forward. Here’s a look at five takeaways from a wildly successful 2020 season for the Marlins.

Marlins 2020 Season: They’ve Closed the Gap

Miami was widely selected to finish last in the NL East this season. A young roster, coupled with bargain-basement veteran additions, led most to think they’d only be marginally more competitive coming off 105-losses. But the Marlins surprised everyone by making a run to the National League Division Series.

Miami’s season ended at the hands of the Braves this week. While a three-game sweep leaves a bitter taste in their mouths, the Marlins can only look at their 2020 season as a success. Last season, the Marlins went 24-52 against the NL East, and 4-15 against the Braves specifically. In 2020, Miami went 21-19 versus NL East rivals and 4-6 against Atlanta.

The Fish have certainly closed the gap between them and Atlanta. In 2019, Miami finished 40 games behind the Braves. In 2020, they finished just four games back of them.

“I think we’re closer,” Miguel Rojas, the team’s leader and de facto captain, said. “But we know [the Braves are] not going anywhere. They’re a good team. I’m pretty positive that the guys that gained the opportunity and gained the experience this year, especially in the postseason. It was pretty important for us moving forward.”

Starting Pitching Remains the Strength

The obvious focus for this organization in the rebuild has been starting pitching. With elite-level pitching prospects and MLB difference makers, the future of the Miami Marlins seems to be in good hands. The 2020 season showed the Marlins starting pitching remains the team’s strength.

Sandy Alcantara emerged as a legitimate ace this season, even after his bout with COVID-19. In seven regular season starts, Alcantara went 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 39 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched. He dominated the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the Wild Card round, going 6.2 innings, surrendering just one run.

In the NLDS versus a potent Braves lineup, Alcantara kept the Marlins in the game through six innings but faltered late. Sandy’s best start, though, came in New York, against the vaunted Yankees lineup. With a playoff berth on the line, Alcantara went 7.1 innings, giving up just two runs to help propel the Marlins to the postseason.

Pablo Lopez presented himself as a clear Number 2 starter in this league. He took the ball coming off of the long COVID quarantine and helped lead the Marlins to the top of the division early in the 2020 season. His development makes Lopez one of the most improved players from 2019.

Throughout the season, Lopez focused on execution to great success. He started a team-high 11 games and went 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA. Take out back-to-back bad starts in early September and Lopez would have posted a sparkling 1.93 ERA in 2020.

Sixto Sanchez flashed on the scene and showed his potential as a frontline starter. Sanchez made seven starts and posted a 3-2 record with a 3.46 ERA. He tallied 33 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched, and when he had command of his full pitching arsenal, he was masterful.

“I learned that I can help the team,” Sánchez said through an interpreter. “That’s one of the things I saw in my two [playoff] starts. I know that I’ve got the tools to keep helping the team in the future.”

The Marlins also saw Elieser Hernandez take a step forward in his development before being lost to a season-ending injury. Hernandez made six starts and finished with a 1-0 record and 34 strikeouts in 25.2 innings pitched.

“Sandy and Pablo, you’ve seen the growth that they’ve been able to make,” Mattingly said. “I think Sixto and Rogers, you see that they’re still a little young. They’ve got steps to take, as well as Sandy and Pablo continuing to grow, but those guys are still at another level than those other guys. Sixto and those other guys are going to have to take steps forward to improve.”

Alcantara, Lopez, Sanchez and Hernandez are likely locks for the 2021 starting rotation, but there are others who could push for a spot as well. Trevor Rogers had his moments in 2020, as did Braxton Garrett and Daniel Castano. The Marlins also have Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer near the Majors.

Positional Prospects Need to Develop

While the pitching talent showed it’s ready to take the next step, Miami’s positional prospects lagged behind some. If the Marlins are going to continue to push for the playoffs after this 2020 season, they’ll need to see some of that position talent develop into difference makers.

The Marlins have seen the steady development of players like Brian Anderson and Rojas, but the frontline prospects called up to the Majors this season did not impress.

Monte Harrison started the year as the fan-favorite among the prospects. Unfortunately, Harrison’s struggles at the plate in his first call up showed he still had work to do. Between his two stints with the Marlins this season, Harrison managed just a .140/.213/.233 slash line. He connected on one dramatic home run but struck out 24 times in 47 plate appearances.

To his credit, Harrison became a weapon on the basepaths and craved out a pinch-running/defensive role during the postseason push. At 25-years-old, though, Harrison will need to adjust to Major League pitching in order to stick moving forward.

Lewin Díaz, acquired via trade last season, appeared in 14 games for the Marlins in 2020. The sweet-swinging lefty has an MLB-ready glove, but at the plate, he lacked production. In 39 at-bats, Diaz hit .154, striking out 12 times but hitting a pair of doubles and getting three RBI. At 23-years-old, he may still get some seasoning in the Minors.

One prospect who wouldn’t get any additional Minor League work is Isan Díaz. The 24-year-old second baseman was projected to be the starter for Miami this year, but after the COVID-19 outbreak, he opted out for a time. After returning late in September, Diaz saw action in five games before a season-ending injury. Although Diaz has a power bat, he’s lacked discipline at the plate thus far. In 201 career MLB ABs, Diaz has managed just a .174 batting average.

Jazz Chisholm remains Diaz’s primary competition at second base moving forward. The only one of these positional prospects to start in the postseason, Chisholm flashed his glove through his time with the Marlins. His bat is behind his glove though, as he managed just a .161 batting average in 56 at-bats. Chisholm connected on two regular season home runs and just missed a postseason homer.

Jesus Sanchez and Eddy Alvarez also struggled to perform at the plate in their time with the big club. The Marlins will need one or more of these positional prospects to make the leap moving into 2021.

Tough Choices Ahead for Marlins Front Office

The Marlins used a whopping 61 players this season. Among that number were 37 pitchers, including 13 different starting pitchers. The Marlins set a new MLB record by have nine different starting pitchers in their first nine games of the season.

Beyond that, the Marlins used 21 rookies this season, including 18 players who made their MLB debut. This constant roster shuffle started in July and led the front office to make an astounding 174 roster moves. Marlins President of Baseball Operations, Michael Hill, remained a busy man throughout the season. And he’ll have his work cut out for him moving forward.

The Marlins 40-man roster is full, but there are an additional 12 players on the Injured List. So tough decisions stand on the horizon. The team will likely pick up the options on centerfielder Starling Marte and closer Brandon Kintzler, and they’ll have to decide what to do about Jesus Aguilar, who was the team’s MVP.

Several bullpen arms will also need to be resigned or extended for 2021, including Richard Bleier, Brad Boxberger and Yimi Garcia. Mike Hill will also need to decide whether or not to bring back veteran starter Jose Urena, who missed the playoffs due to injury.

Other key players stand to enter their arbitration years and could use a long-term contract extensions. Among those: Alcantara, Anderson and Lopez.

Miami will need to decide if Jorge Alfaro, who did not start a single postseason game, is the catcher of the future. With the retirement of Francisco Cervelli and the offensive limitations of Chad Wallach, the Marlins may look to free agency if they’re not sold on Alfaro.

Marlins 2020 Season: The Future is Bright

All that said, the 2020 season for the Miami Marlins can only be viewed as a success. The team emerged from the NL East cellar to fight and secure their first playoff berth in 17 years. The Marlins rallied around the ‘WhyNotUs’ hashtag and ‘bottom feeders’ label.

“When I first got to Spring Training, I felt like this team was very young,” Kintzler said. “I feel like these guys got hungry. They matured really fast. What do they need to do to get to the next step? They just need to get better. Experience is the only thing that helps you get better up here. The window is just opening for this team. Hopefully, they take advantage of it.”

The mix of savvy veterans and hungry youngsters catapulted the Marlins into the MLB limelight. That sort of experience remains valuable, despite the disappointing ending to the 2020 season.

“At the end of the day, this is just the beginning of where we’re going to go. I feel like this organization, the things that we’re going to do here are going to be sustainable for a long time. We have to be happy but not satisfied,” said Rojas. “We got a taste of the postseason and we know how to play in the playoffs now.” Rojas said they need to use the experience as motivation to get better.

With such a bright future ahead of them, Marlins fans can finally feel excited for the upcoming season. No one expected this performance outside of those in the clubhouse and front office. But this success validates so many of the difficult decisions they’ve had to make during this rebuild, including bringing back Mattingly as manager.

“This was the closest group I’ve had as far as a group of guys who fight and feel like they’re united in their stance in where they want to go,” Mattingly said, “and that’s really what we talked about. I’m really proud of this club and what they’ve been able to accomplish.”

“We did give ourselves an opportunity this year. I think that’s a step forward for us.”

Rays Sweep Marlins

5 Takeaways from Rays Sweep of Marlins

The Miami Marlins entered their three-game Citrus Series tilt against in-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays, above .500 in August for the first time in a long time. They were coming off taking two of three from the Mets in New York, then working with the Mets to stage a walk off. Back in Miami, though, the Rays dominate the Marlins over three games, en route to the series sweep.

Here are five takeaways from the Rays sweep of the Marlins.

Elite Starting Pitching

Any Marlins fan would have taken a pair of games where the starting pitchers combined to throw 14 innings, allowing just two earned runs and one walk while posting 15 strikeouts. Sixto Sanchez and Pablo Lopez were dominant in their starts, but they received literally zero run support.

Sixto’s start was particularly encouraging, as the 22-year-old tore through the Tampa Bay lineup and demonstrated his potential as an ace.

“He was really good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Sanchez after the game. “He was in control all night. Used his changeup a lot. Was able to elevate. He gives you seven innings of scoreless [work].”

Lopez was nearly as good. He posted his sixth straight start of at least five innings and no more than two earned runs. That ties the best such start in Marlins history with Josh Johnson (6 games) in 2011 and Anibal Sanchez (6 games) in 2012. Lopez is one of just 10 pitchers in MLB to post as many such starts this season.

“I felt like this is the best Pablo has thrown,” Mattingly said. “He gives up the run on a Díaz chopper, just unfortunate. … He was able to use all of his pitches. His sequences were good. I thought he did a great job all night. He was really good.”

On Sunday, the Marlins welcomed back ace Sandy Alcantara from the IL. Sandy looked to end the Marlins skid and avoid the sweep at the hands of the Rays. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be and Tampa Bay jumped on him early.

“Today, this is my first start,” Alcantara said after the game. “It was like Opening Day. It was a little different for me. My first two innings, I was too quick. I could feel it [with my] four-seamer. I had to calm down and try to make a pitch.”

Although he ultimately surrendered eight runs (five earned), Alcantara’s return means the Marlins are closer to throwing elite arms at opposing lineups every day.

Dormant Offense During Most of Rays Sweep of Marlins

Perhaps the most frustrating element of the Rays sweep of the Marlins was the lack of production at the plate. Veteran hitters failed to convert in key opportunities and the Marlins were shut out on back-to-back nights.

Before Corey Dickerson’s fourth inning home run on Sunday, the Marlins went 39 straight scoreless innings in Marlins Park against the Rays.

On Friday night, the team managed just five hits. On Saturday, just three. The Marlins were a combined 0-for-5 with runners-in-scoring-position during those games, both very winnable contests.

Mattingly lamented the lack of offense after Sanchez’s performance: “He gives us a chance to get on the board. We just weren’t able to get on the board for him.”

After Saturday’s game, Mattingly admitted the team’s frustrations.

“Any time it’s happening in a short run like this, it’s frustrating,” he said. “You know you’re getting good outings, and you’re not really able to do anything with it.”

On Sunday, the offense came to life some, but too late. Dickerson’s homer in the fourth made it a 5-1 deficit, but the Rays put up seven runs in the fifth. The Marlins did post seven runs over the span of four innings but couldn’t continue any of their rallies to truly threaten the Rays.

After the game, Mattingly said the offense showed “some decent signs. Hopefully we can kind of get this thing rolling and get back a little bit more of a groove as you get into this final month.”

Return of Garrett Cooper Provide Life

One of the bright spots from the Rays sweep of the Marlins was the return of Garrett Cooper to the lineup. Cooper went 4-for-13 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI. His bat clearly lengthens a lineup that has struggled at times this season to score runs.

“Getting him back, you obviously see what you missed,” Mattingly said on Sunday. “Coop, that’s the one thing, he’s always been able to hit. It’s good to have him back. Hopefully, we can get everybody going around that.”

With Jesus Aguilar dealing with back issues, Cooper should be a fixture in the lineup moving forward. His versatility to play first base, right field or DH provides Mattingly with a veteran bat to deploy in the middle of the lineup.

Unfriendly Confines of Marlins Park

Normally, teams perform better at home than on the road. In 2020, that has not been the case at all for the Marlins. The Marlins are 13-7 (.650) on the road this season, the fourth-best road winning pct. in the Majors (second in NL behind the Dodgers: 14-5, .737); only the Dodgers have more road wins. They have outscored opponents 97-86 away from home.

At Marlins Park, however, they’re 1-8, with eight straight loses.

“I can’t explain home, why we haven’t played as well,” Mattingly said. “I can guess at stuff, and I would just be guessing. On the road, you have nothing else but going to the ballpark. You’re stuck in a hotel. The only time you get out is when you’ve got to go to the ballpark. It’s the one time you have a little freedom.”

With 17 of their final 30 games at home, the Marlins will have to figure out these struggles quickly if they want to make a playoff push.

The biggest struggles have come offensively, as the team is hitting just .212 at Marlins Park. Miami’s home OPS is .568, whereas on the road their OPS is .711 with a .247 batting average.

Prior to Sunday’s offensive outburst, the Marlins had connected on only three home runs in Marlins Park. Sunday saw three leave the park, as Dickerson, Cooper and Lewis Brinson all connected on big flys.

Struggles Lead to Uncertainty at Trade Deadline

This Rays sweep of the Marlins, and four-game losing skid overall, has come at a difficult time for the front office. As Monday’s Trade Deadline approaches, the Marlins are below .500 for the first time this season (14-15), but they are still clinging to a playoff spot.

Being in the pennant race might dictate an out-of-character move from the Marlins.

“Traditionally, we have not been a team in the last few years that has been buying anything,” Mattingly said prior to Sunday’s game. “I’m not sure we’re going to be giving any prospects away to get one piece.”

The Marlins are poised to end a 17-year playoff drought with a solid September. A key contest looms against the New York Mets this afternoon, then 12 of their final 30 against either the Philadelphia Phillies or Washington Nationals. If the Marlins can win each of those series, they could end MLB’s second-longest playoff drought.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Marlins decide to move any of their veterans. Teams have called about closer Brandon Kintzler and utility player Jonathan Villar. The Marlins could also part with young veteran starters in Jose Urena and/or Caleb Smith.

It’s hard to imagine the Marlins giving up one of their prized prospects to rent a bat for a month. Unless the deal is similar to the one with Arizona last season (where Zac Gallen was flipped for Jazz Chisholm), it’s unlikely Miami parts with a top-end prospect.

Marlins Braves

5 Takeaways from Marlins Series Loss to Braves

The Miami Marlins entered their weekend series against the Atlanta Braves with an opportunity to extend their unlikely lead in the NL East. Despite having 20 players on the IL, Miami sat atop the division in August for the first time in franchise history. The Braves rolled into town down one game in the standings, but they’ve owned the Marlins of late. In 2019, Miami dropped 15 of 19 games to the Braves. The Marlins haven’t taken a series from Atlanta since 2017.

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

Marlins Loss to Braves: A Missed Opportunity

The Marlins hosted their home opener with control of the NL East. This unexpected development came despite losing more than half of the Opening Day roster to COVID-19. Miami welcomed in the Braves, who’ve won the division for the last two seasons.

Atlanta arrived minus keys players, with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies missing from the lineup and three-fifths of their starting rotation out. Despite that, the Marlins were unable to extend their lead in the division.

Ahead of the homestand, Miami’s schedule featured 15 straight games versus NL East opponents. After going 1-2 versus Atlanta, the Marlins will face the Mets for four games before a five-game weekend series in Washington. They’ll finish their 15-game NL East stretch in New York with three more against the Mets.

If the Marlins are serious about making a playoff push in 2020, they’ll need to win these series.

Bats Went Silent

On Friday night, the Marlins piled up eight runs on 10 hits, but eight of those 10 hits were singles. Miami used speed to pressure the Braves, including stealing home for the second straight game. Eight of the 10 hits on Friday were singles, and most of those came from the bottom of the order.

After a rousing 8-2 win on Friday, the Marlins proceeded to score just one run over the next 18 innings.

Between Saturday and Sunday, the Marlins went 0-for-6 with runners-in-scoring-position. On Sunday, they saw just two pitches with a runner in scoring position. For the series, Miami managed three extra base hits, and one of those came thanks to aggressive baserunning from Magneuris Sierra, who stretched a soft single to right into a double.

Over their last three losses, the Marlins are a combined 1-for-14 with runners-in-scoring-position and a grand total of two extra-base hits.

Starting Pitching Solid

The Marlins wasted a pair of excellent starting pitching performances over the weekend. On Saturday, Daniel Castano tossed a career-high six innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run. He lowered his ERA to 4.35 with the outing.

Castano threw 80 pitches and made just one mistake. To start the seventh inning, he surrendered a home run to Marcel Ozuna on a changeup left out over the plate. Otherwise, he was sharp in what was his second career MLB start.

On Sunday, Elieser Hernandez continued his solid stretch to start the season. He went five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and tying a career-high nine strikeouts. 57 of his 81 pitches went for strikes and he lowered his ERA to 1.84. In three starts this season, Hernandez has pitched 14.2 innings and has allowed runs in just one of those. He’s posted 19 Ks and only two walks thus far.

On Friday night, Pablo Lopez went a season-high six innings, surrendered two earned runs on seven hits and piled up eight strikeouts. He remained sharp throughout. His ERA in 2020 stands at 2.25.

Mattingly Finally Fed Up

Marlins manager Don Mattingly lost it with home plate umpire James Hoye in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game. Mattingly argued vehemently about the strike zone and was ejected. His profanity-laced tirade was caught by the Braves TV broadcast.

After the game, Mattingly did not address the altercation, saying the discussion about umpiring was “not worth getting into.” He revealed there had been many complaints from players regarding the zone, but shrugged and said: “It is what it is.”

The Marlins had the same umpiring crew for the last three series (Hoye, Roberto Ortiz, Mike Estabrook and Mark Carlson). Before Friday’s game, Mattingly admitted they “do get frustrated with the zone,” particularly the inconsistencies from day-to-day.

“I think the biggest thing you look for is that consistency of the zone. That’s one thing that seems to be missing,” Mattingly said on Friday. He also admitted that there’s not much to do about it.

Reinforcements Needed, And Potentially on the Way

After having their roster decimated by COVID-19, the Marlins scrambled to assemble a competitive roster. To their credit, the team emerged from quarantine and ran off five wins in a row. But since that streak, the team is 2-5. While most assumed the difficulties would come from a makeshift bullpen, it’s actually been inconsistencies in the lineup that have hurt the most.

Versus the Braves, Miami’s best hitters failed to come through. Brian Anderson did not record a hit during the three-game series. Jesus Aguilar went 2-for-11 and Jonathan Villar went 3-for-12. Those two combined to drive in four runs no Friday, but nothing on Saturday and Sunday.

One day after coming through with big hits, both Monte Harrison and Lewis Brinson were hitless Sunday. Harrison’s game-tying home run on Saturday proved to be a wonderful moment for the young man, but he followed that with a 0-for-3 performance with two strikeouts. Brinson tallied two hits on Saturday but went 0-for-2 with two Ks Sunday.

Word came out of Marlins camp yesterday that all 18 players affected by COVID-19 have been approved for reinstatement by the joint MLB/MLBPA committee. The players have reported to Jupiter for training and rehab. This lineup needs an injection of life, and that could come from Jorge Alfaro, Garrett Cooper, Harold Ramirez and Miguel Rojas.

The pitching staff could have Sandy Alcantara back as early as next weekend. Craig Mish reported Alcantara has thrown a bullpen session already and will progress to a sim game this week.

Marlins beat Braves

Marlins Beat Braves 8-2, Maintain NL East Lead

The Miami Marlins entered Friday night’s home opener as unlikely NL East leaders. While most thought the Marlins would occupy the cellar of the division, Miami sits atop the NL East in August for the first time in franchise history. They’ve done so without more than half of their Opening Day roster. Friday night, the Marlins beat the Braves 8-2, thanks to aggressive baserunning, solid pitching and timely defense.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly credited the win to “a little bit of everything.” He called it “a well-rounded game,” and said: “We kind of got contributions from all over the place.”

Game Changing Speed

The most obviously difference for the Marlins was the game-changing speed at the bottom of the order.

“Speed is a difficult thing to deal with,” Mattingly said. “It just puts a little bit of pressure everywhere. You have to have guys who can get on base, who can hit, and then you can use that speed.”

Eddy Alvarez, Jon Berti and Magneuris Sierra, the 7-, 8- and 9-hole hitters, reached base six times and accounted for six of Miami’s eight runs. Jonathan Villar, the lead-off hitter, also used his speed to make plays.

The team swiped four bases for the second straight game, something they’ve only done three times in franchise history. Another franchise first occurred when Berti stole home in the fourth. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Miami stole home in consecutive games for the first time in club history and is the first team to do so since the Kansas City Royals on May 22-23, 1996.

Mattingly said postgame that Sierra is “bouncing around and creating havoc.” That’s certainly true, especially when he can turn a roller into right field from a single to a double.

In his last three games, Sierra is 3-for-9 with six runs scored, three RBI, three walks, two stolen bases and a double. He’s played well defensively, and the team is now 6-0 with him in the starting lineup.

Pablo’s Performance Helps Marlins Beat Braves

Pablo Lopez has proven to be the most important pitcher for the Marlins this season. Not only did Lopez’s shutdown performance against the Orioles coming off of quarantine inspire, his consistent ability to throw strikes and shut down opposing lineups has helped propel the Marlins to the top of the NL East.

“Pablo’s worked hard,” Mattingly said, “really just kind of making strides.”

Lopez went six innings, scattered seven hits (one home run), with two earned runs and a career-high eight strikeouts.

“With these last three starts, [I’ve been] trying to have a good rhythm. Trying to work the count, stay ahead. Minimize mistakes,” Lopez said after the game. “Me and Cervelli were on the same page. Mixing pitches, mixing eye-levels.”

Despite missing Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, this Braves offense still sports potent bats and Lopez knew he and Francisco Cervelli would need to use a variety of strategies. He gave up a first-inning home run to Travis d’Arnaud, but settled in nicely from there.

Lopez didn’t issue a walk and said after the game he was happier about that than the eight Ks. He has focused on his mechanics and developing a good rhythm and credits his chemistry with Cervelli.

Timely Defense

Lopez was aided by timely defensive plays as well. Brian Anderson made a bare-handed play to throw out Marcel Ozuna with the bases loaded in the fifth, ending a potential run-scoring opportunity for the Braves. Matt Joyce also secured timely outs with diving plays in left field.

“You’ve got a bunch of grinders,” Joyce said after the game. “You’ve got a bunch of fighters. You also have a bunch of guys that are having fun. Right now, we’re on a good roll, and we’re having fun doing it.”

Prior to this game, the Marlins had largely relied on the home run for offense. They didn’t hit one on Friday and still managed eight runs. The combination of speed, pitching and defense proved to be the difference.

Joyce credited the win to that diversity. “Where you can go out there and win in different types of ways,” Joyce said. “I think that’s what good teams do.”

The Marlins will look to beat the Braves again tonight, but have Atlanta’s best pitcher, LHP Max Fried (3-0, 1.59) to deal with. Miami will counter with LHP Daniel Castano (0-1, 8.31), who’s making his second big league start.

Marlins beat Blue Jays

Marlins Finish Road Trip with Thriller, Beat Blue Jays 14-11

The Miami Marlins escaped Buffalo, NY, with a series split after a thrilling win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Miami built an 8-0 lead before Toronto stormed back thanks to seven home runs. But after dropping the game in extra innings on Tuesday night, the Marlins put three runs on the board in the 10th and held on to beat the Blue Jays 14-11.

Thanks to 10th inning heroics from Magneuris Sierra and Jesus Aguilar, the Marlins return to Miami with an 8-4 record. The team’s 6-day road trip morphed into a 23-day odyssey that saw them lose 20 teammates along the way. And, improbably, Miami sits atop the NL East.

“Obviously, that was a crazy game,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said on the postgame Zoom call. “Seems like a perfect game to end this trip with. Just out of the ordinary, every bit of it.”

Marlins pitchers served up a franchise single-game high seven home runs in this one. The Blue Jays connected on homers in six consecutive innings to tie the game after their early deficit.

This game mirrored the rollercoaster road trip. There was a thrilling, unexpected start, considerable difficulty in the middle and a team-oriented response in the end to help the Marlins beat the Blue Jays.

Wild Ride as Marlins Beat Blue Jays

Brian Anderson connected on his fourth home run of the season to open the scoring. Then in the third inning, the Marlins put five more runs on the board with three singles, three walks, an error and an inexplicable pick-off attempt by Toronto’s catcher.

From there, though, Marlins pitchers allowed the Blue Jays back into the game. Starter Jordan Yamamoto couldn’t make it through four innings, surrendering up seven hits, four earned runs, two walks and two home runs. But the Blue Jay’s home run binge didn’t stop there. Miami’s bullpen gave up five homers and seven earned runs.

But one night after a frustrating extra innings loss, the Marlins rallied in the 10th inning.

Another Shot at Extras

On Tuesday, the Marlins played for the big inning, and were inches away from it, but they couldn’t push a run across. With the new extra innings rule, if the road team doesn’t score first, the odds tilt almost insurmountably in favor of the home team.

Mattingly played last night’s game for one in extras.

“I wanted to try and get a run,” Mattingly said. “The analytics tell me not to do that [bunt]. It ended up being big. You don’t get an out on the bunt, it usually causes you multiple runs.”

That was the case for the Blue Jays. With Eddy Alvarez placed at second base to start the inning, Jon Berti stepped up to move him over. But his bunt snuck pass the mound on the left side and Berti reached base safely, putting runners on the corners with no outs. After a wild pitch moved Berti to second, Sierra followed with a two-run single.

Sierra took second on a failed pickoff attempt, then made it to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Villar. Aguilar then drove in Sierra with a single, his fourth RBI of the game.

Josh A. Smith entered in bottom of the 10th as Miami’s ninth pitcher of the night. Despite the placed runner at second and starting the inning with a walk, Smith navigated the 10th with a pair of strikeouts to record the save. It was Smith’s second career save and his first with the Marlins.

“We’re competitors,” Smith said after the Marlins beat the Blue Jays. “It says a lot about this organization. It says a lot about the guys that we have down there. We come to work every day, blue collar. Whenever our name is called, we try to get it done. Whoever doesn’t get it done, then the other guys just pick them up.”

Up Next: Atlanta Braves

The Marlins return home after this rollercoaster road trip 8-4 and in first place. The Atlanta Braves (11-9) come in for a three-game set for control of the NL East. Pablo Lopez (1-1, 1.80 ERA, 11 K) takes the hill for the Marlins. The Braves counter with RHP Kyle Wright (0-2, 6.75 ERA, 11 K).

Marlins extra innings

Marlins Lose In Extra Innings

The Marlins first experience with MLB’s new extra innings rule left the team with a bitter taste in their mouth. Miami dropped the 10-inning affair 5-4 and have lost three straight after a six-game winning streak and 7-1 start overall.

Elieser Hernandez went 5.1 innings and surrendered three earned runs. He made one mistake pitch in the sixth to Bo Bichette, which went for a 3-run home run, but otherwise looked good. He finished with five strikeouts, four hits and one walk.

Despite Two Home Runs, Marlins Offense Continues to Struggle

The Marlins offense slumbered through most of this extra innings game. Miami’s offense seemed to sleep-walk through this one, outside of Brian Anderson’s second inning homer and Francisco Cervelli’s 2-out, game-tying 3-run shot in the bottom of the ninth.

“The home run, I saw the ball and I hit the ball. That’s it,” Cervelli said. “I saw the situation and I looked at who was behind me, and I said, ‘I’ve got to swing here.’ That was my plan.”

Lewis Brinson followed Cervelli in the batting order and he’s yet to register a hit with the club since his recent call up. Heading into the game, Brinson was 0-for-8. On Tuesday night, Brinson’s struggles with the bat continued as he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

All in all, the Marlins couldn’t muster the big hit. The team, which went 4-for-17 with runners-in-scoring-position in their weekend loses to the Mets, was 1-for-8 with runners-in-scoring-position. Marlins batters struck out nine times, including the key first out in extra innings.

Logan Forsythe nearly gave the Marlins a 2-run lead in the top of the 10th inning, but his hit, initially ruled as a home run, was ultimately overturned to a foul ball. Forsythe then struck out.

“Obviously, Cervy’s homer is big,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It gives us an opportunity. For a brief second there, it looks like Logan’s got a homer. Then, just weren’t able to make a pitch there in that last inning.”

Marlins Loss: Extra Innings Rule Favors Home Team Considerably

The new extra inning rules tilt the odds of the game dramatically in favor of the home team. Each club gets a runner at second base to start the inning, but if the road team doesn’t score, strategy dictates the home team move the runner over with a sacrifice bunt then try to put the ball in play to score the runner from third.

For the Marlins, Stephen Tarpley faced these long odds and couldn’t wiggle out of the trouble. After the Blue Jays bunted Anthony Alford over, Tarpley seemed to have Cavan Biggio on the ropes, but a pitch that clearly seemed in the strike zone was called a ball by home plate umpire James Hoye.

The call elicited an expletive from Mattingly, who barked his displeasure toward the plate. Marlins batters remained frustrated with the zone throughout the night, as they have been for the better part of the last two series.

“The strike zone again,” Mattingly said after the game. “We’ve had this crew and they’re gonna go back to Miami with us. You can’t complain, just live with it.”

Mattingly made defensive adjustments in the 10th inning, including going to five infielders, then moving Brinson from right to left field in the middle of Biggio’s at-bat. But Tarpley’s inability to get the strikeout led to Biggio’s walk, then an intentional walk to Bo Bichette to load the bases. Travis Shaw looped a game-winning single to right five pitches later.

“This is not softball,” Cervelli said of the new extra innings rule after the Marlins game. “This is not the Olympic Games, this is baseball. But this is what it is. I’ve got to adapt to this. I believe if we’re the home team, and we have success, we’re going to be happy.”

Harrison Pulled in 8th Inning

Monte Harrison’s struggles at the plate continued. He struck out twice before being replaced by Eddy Alvarez in the eighth inning. He’s now struck out in six consecutive at-bats.

The Marlins have one more game in what has turned out to me an epic opening road trip. When the Marlins finally return home, it’ll be 23 days after having left for what was originally supposed to be a six-day trip.


Marlins sweep

Marlins Sweep Orioles, Improve to 6-1

The Miami Marlins completed a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night. The 8-7 victory felt different than the pitchers’ duels earlier in the series, but the Marlins completed the sweep thanks to timely hitting and great work from the backend of the bullpen.

The unlikely nature of this win streak comes as the team has reshaped their roster coming off of an 8-day quarantine in Philadelphia. The Marlins have won five games in a row, including the four-game sweep, despite making 36 different roster moves this week.

Bullpen Has Been Key

In 2019, the Marlins featured one of the worst bullpens in MLB. Miami relievers posted the fifth-worst ERA (4.97), strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.11) and save percentage (55.1). Their WHIP (1.45) was seventh worst. Relievers blew 22 save opportunities and surrendered a .235 batting-average-against and .343 on-base percentage.

It’s been a very different story thus far in 2020. The new-look Marlins bullpen has looked good. In the four-game series versus the Orioles, Marlins relievers surrendered just three earned runs and gave up seven walks over 18.2 IP. They registered 15 strikeouts over that span. The bullpen is 4-for-4 in save situations this season.

The pitching staff in total posted solid performances almost across the board. The Marlins limited Baltimore to 3-for-25 with runners-in-scoring-position. Marlins pitchers combined for 31 strikeouts over the 32 innings of the sweep.

Jordan Yamamoto struggled in his 2020 debut, but he did not issue a walk. Yamamoto’s problem seemed to be location, which led to several hard hits including a pair of home runs. Intriguing pitching prospect Jorge Guzman made his MLB debut and finished his first inning of work cleanly on six pitches. But his second inning of work saw him surrender two home runs, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

Timely Hitting

The Marlins offense stayed relatively quiet through the first three games of the series but woke up on Thursday night. The team posted eight runs on 11 hits. Miami managed to go 4-for-12 with runners-in-scoring position and answered each Baltimore rally with one of their own.

Brian Anderson continued his hot start to the season going 2-for4 with a triple and three RBI. Jonathan Villar posted his first three-hit night as a Marlin, starting with a lead-off homer. It was Villar’s seventh career lead-off blast and the 14th time in club history that a Marlins home run came off the first pitch of the game.

Monte Harrison collected his first Major League hit. He reached base on an infield single in the sixth inning, and immediately registered the first stolen base of his career right after.

Speed and Versatility

The Marlins rolled out maybe the fastest outfield in franchise history with Harrison, Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra to start the game. And that speed came in clutch throughout, as they were able to track down hard-hit fly balls and save runs.

Harrison’s running grab in the second limited the Orioles to just one run that inning. The Marlins took the lead back the following half-inning when Sierra’s sac-fly scored Brinson, who’d walked and reached third on a Logan Forsythe double.

Sierra flashed his speed in the fourth. After a HBP, Sierra scored from first on a soft single to right by Villar. His speed from first-to-third pressured Orioles RF Anthony Santander into a throwing error, and Sierra scored.

Marlins Sweep Orioles, but What’s Next?

The Marlins traveled to New York overnight ahead of a three-game set against the division rival Mets (5-8). The Mets have won two of their last three after dropping five in a row. They have some injury issues though, as Robinson Canó, Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario have all missed games recently. This after Yoenis Cespedes opted out for the 2020 season.

Miami are scheduled to face RHP Michael Wacha (1-1, 6.00 ERA), LHP David Peterson (1-1, 3.86 ERA), and ace RHP Jacob DeGrom (1-0, 2.12 ERA) in the series.

The Marlins have yet to name their starter for Friday’s game, though recent call up LHP Daniel Castano (27-24, 3.76 ERA, 335 K, 59 minor league starts) could get the nod. Another option could be taxi squad player RHP Humberto Mejia (13-16, 240 ERA 268 K, 43 minor league starts).

The Marlins have five games remaining on this road trip and have a real shot to be at least 8-4 coming home. Prior to the season, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said: “In a 60-game season, there’s a lot of momentum. You go 8-4 out of the gate, you’ve played 20 percent of your season, and you put pressure on teams.”

Mattingly passed Jack McKeon on the all-time wins list for Marlins managers after securing his 282nd win with the Marlins sweep.

He downplayed tying McKeon for wins record prior to Thursday’s game.

“Jack did a tremendous job with the Marlins, coming in and getting a world championship. Jack’s the man. I can’t take it too serious knowing that our win percentage has not been very good while I’ve been here.”

Mattingly noted he’s been with the Marlins a while (this is his fifth season).

“Hopefully I’ve been through the worst,” Mattingly said. “I was happy Derek wanted me back this year because I wanted to finish the job, knew what kind of talent we had coming. I think continuity is part of creating consistency.”

Marlins win streak

5 Reasons For Unlikely Marlins Win Streak

The Miami Marlins suffered through a week-long quarantine and eight-day hiatus from on-field baseball activities. The COVID-19 outbreak ripped through the clubhouse, particularly the bullpen, and ultimately required 18 players to be moved to the IL. This forced management to turn over the roster with waiver claims, free agent signings and prospect promotions. And despite all of that, the Marlins have resumed their season with an impressive three-game win streak (and four straight overall).

“Good to put some wins on the board,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after the doubleheader on Wednesday. By sweeping the doubleheader, Mattingly pulled even with Jack McKeon for the most wins as a manager in franchise history (281).

Mattingly, in his fifth season with the franchise, started the season tied with Fredi Gonzalez at 276 wins on the all-time list. McKeon finished his career with a 281-257 record (.522) and a World Series title in 2003. A win Thursday would give Mattingly sole possession of the all-time mark for manager wins with the Marlins and push the team’s winning streak to five games.

The Marlins win streak has been a feel-good story for the club after an incredibly difficult week. Here’s a look at five reasons for the Marlins’ unlikely win streak.

Great Pitching

The COVID-19 outbreak decimated the team’s pitching staff. Eight of 12 bullpen arms and three starters were lost. President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill and his staff scrambled over the last week-plus to assemble a competitive staff with waiver claims, trades and free agent signings.

But the piecemeal pitching staff has been impressive.

The Marlins shut out the Orioles for the first 21.2 innings of the three games, including a pair of shut-out wins.

“It started with Pablo in the first game, he set the tone for the whole staff,” said Sterling Sharp, who made his MLB debut on Wednesday, throwing 1.2 innings. “We just fed off that. It’s a real contagious feeling once you see guys go out there putting up zeros. You want to match that.”

Pablo Lopez tossed five shutout innings with seven strikeouts on Tuesday in his season debut. Four bullpen arms followed, giving up just one hit and one walk, striking out four over four innings.

On Wednesday, Elieser Hernandez nearly matched Lopez’s performance. He pitched 4.1 scoreless, striking out five and didn’t surrender a hit until a one-out double in the fifth inning. Three relievers finished the game, allowing just one hit and one walk over the final 2.2 innings.

The nightcap of the doubleheader was entirely a bullpen game for the Marlins. Six pitchers combined to hold the Orioles to one run on four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over the seven innings.

Josh A. Smith made the start in his Marlins debut and Sharp followed with his MLB debut. Brian Moran and Justin Shafer also appeared, with Shafer surrendering the lone run. And Stephen Tarpley closed the game with a save to extend the Marlins win streak to three.

“The bullpen,” Matting said. “What a day.”

Even position players have marveled at the performance.

“Our pitching has been incredible,” said Brian Anderson. “I don’t know how they go from throwing into a mattress and going out and getting big league hitters out like that. But whatever they’re doing, we’ve got to keep doing it.”

New Additions Hitting

While the pitching has been the story during this Marlins win streak, there’s been some timely hitting as well. Miami did just enough in the doubleheader to get the wins, after posting four runs on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, catcher Francisco Cervelli started the scoring with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Jonathan Villar singled and scored, Corey Dickerson doubled and Jesus Aguilar hit his third home run of the season. He became just the third Marlin to hit three home runs in his first four games with the club, joining Derrek Lee (2002) and Cliff Floyd (1998).

On Wednesday, Anderson provided all the scoring for Game 1 with his solo homer. In Game 2, Villar scored on a sac-fly from Aguilar, and Jon Berti scored on an Anderson RBI single, all in the first inning. From there, the pitching held on.

It took the Marlins five games to connect on eight home runs this season. In 2019, the team didn’t hit their eighth until the ninth game of the season.

Veteran Leaders

The Marlins turned over much of their roster heading into 2020, then had to do so again after three games thanks to COVID-19. Many clubs could have folded under the pressure, but this team has not. Even prior to the shutdown, the Marlins fought back from a five-run deficit in Philadelphia after losing three teammates to the virus.

“In the clubhouse, you could feel the vibe from all the new guys,” Sharp said Wednesday. “They’re just coming in and they want to contribute. We’ve got a good vibe going. Everybody is excited. We want to push forward.”

Veterans like Cervelli and new closer Brandon Kintzler have stepped forward to mentor the younger players on the roster. Lewis Brinson mentioned Dickerson as being particularly useful source of hitting knowledge.

Miguel Rojas is the club’s unofficial captain. Even in quarantine, Rojas has been an uplifting presence for the team. And one of the other holdovers from the 2019 roster, Anderson, has also taken on a leadership role.

“All it’s about for us is trying to get wins,” said Anderson. “Just piecing them together any way we can.”

Defensive Versatility Helps Marlins Win Streak

Anderson demonstrated his leadership and versatility by taking on a new challenge in the second game of the doubleheader. Anderson started at first base for the first time in his MLB career. He said the only time he played first base was in an emergency situation while playing in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

“We looked at our options at first and Andy was the best one,” Mattingly said. “He did a good job. Andy’s pretty athletic. Obviously, we’ve seen him at third. We’ve put him in right and he looks good. You put him in that crease out there in right-center in the shift and he looks good there. He’s good everywhere.”

This emergency situation necessitated Anderson’s move to first. With Garrett Cooper already on the IL, newly signed infielder Logan Forsythe unavailable and Aguilar taking DH, the Marlins options were limited.

Anderson’s multi-positional flexibility mirrors that of several other players on the roster. Villar can play 2B, SS, 3B and CF, and has appeared at three different positions in six games (as well as DH). Berti has similarly manned three different positions thus far. And newly promoted Eddy Alvarez took two different positions over the doubleheader.

Forsythe can play throughout the infield, and the team can plug Magneuris Sierra in any outfield spot. Once they’re back from the IL, Cooper, Harold Ramirez and Sean Rodriguez all have positional flexibility as well.

This defensive versatility allows Mattingly to optimize the lineup on a game-to-game basis.

Internal Competition

On Monday, Derek Jeter joined the media via Zoom and said: “We expect to be competitive when we take the field.”

That much has proven true, as the Marlins win streak sits at four games. They’ve taken the first three from Baltimore and will look to complete the series sweep Thursday with Jordan Yamamoto starting.

With 18 players moving to the IL, Miami had to reshape its roster on the fly. The players acquired via waivers and trades, and those signed via free agency, were considered cast-offs. But these players have a new opportunity to breathe life into their MLB careers.

They know they need to perform to stick with the club, beyond when the roster is pared from 30 to 28 Thursday. The players who tested positive for COVID-19 are waiting in the wings for their spots as well.

“I expect them to come back. They expect to come back,” Jeter said. “Who knows what that timeframe is, but our players are looking forward to getting back on the field.”

This internal competition can push this group to excel on the field. And that’s already true within the starting rotation.

“Every time you see this rotation, I really get inspired to see the talent that they have,” Elieser Hernandez said through an interpreter on Wednesday. “I really wanted to join the rotation and help the team. Now that I’m here, that’s what we want to do — win some games.”

Despite in the internal competition, this group, 58 strong at present, has a singular goal: to win.

“A lot of new guys with the same goal,” Aguilar said of the new cast of players. “We’re pulling in the same direction. There are a lot of new faces, but the same goal.”