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Marlins Outbreak: On to Baltimore

The Miami Marlins haven’t seen the field in a week and won’t do so again until at least Tuesday. We hope. The Marlins have been dealing with the league’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, and while some thought it was an isolated issues for MLB, other teams, like the St. Louis Cardinals, have seen their own issues with the virus crop up.

The Marlins hold first place in the NL East despite playing only three games this season. If they’re going to keep that position or challenge for a spot in the playoffs, they’ll need to navigate the coming days and weeks carefully. Here’s a look at the latest with the Marlins Outbreak.

Buses Home, On To Baltimore

With 21 members of the organization, including 18 players, testing positive for COVID-19, the Marlins outbreak seemed on the brink of cancelling their season. The team remained sequestered in two Philadelphia hotels this week, but on Friday, they finally got MLB approval to transport the sick players home via sleeper bus.

They’ve since arrived in South Florida, where they will be quarantined. Thankfully, none of those who have tested positive with the Marlins have reported major symptoms.

Harold Ramirez told Telemundo this week he doesn’t have a cough anymore and his body aches have gone away. Miguel Rojas took to Twitter on Thursday to thank fans and supporters and say he can’t wait to get back on the field to represent Miami.

While the recent round of negative COVID tests is good news, the Marlins remain in a holding pattern. The healthy Marlins are still in Philly, as MLB has postponed their games through the weekend.

The current plan is for the Marlins season will resume on Tuesday in Baltimore. They’ll play four games there in three days, then likely move on to play the New York Mets and then Toronto Blue Jays, who are playing home games this year in Buffalo, NY.

Don’t look now, though. Isaias might have other plans.

Trades!

One of those roster holes will be filled by LHP Richard Bleier. Miami acquired Bleier from the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The 33-year-old was born in Miami Beach and grew up in Davie. He attended South Plantation High School and Florida Gulf Coast University.

He made his MLB debut in 2016 with New York Yankees and has pitched the last three seasons with Baltimore. He owns a career 8-1 record and 2.99 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 177.1 IP working almost entirely out of the bullpen. This season, he’s appeared in two games and did not give up a run in three IP.

The left-handed pitcher relies on sinker and cutter, with a fastball, curve and slider, too. His ability to locate, induce ground balls at a 59-percent rate and surrender hard hits only 21-percent of the time, will help the Marlins bullpen.

Bleier said via Instgram: “I’m excited for the next chapter of my career heading home to Miami!”

On Saturday afternoon, the Marlins also acquired RHP James Hoyt from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash. The 33-year-old Hoyt pitched three years for the Houston Astros before joining the Indians in 2020. He sports a 4.16 career ERA with 104 strikeouts over 80 IP. Hoyt had been designated for assignment on July 28th.

Isan Opts Out

Isan Diaz informed the Marlins that he’s opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season. Here is Díaz’s full statement, posted to his Instagram Story:

“This has been a tough week to see so many of my teammates come down with this virus, and see how quickly it spreads. After much deliberation and thought, I have made the difficult choice of opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season. This has been a decision that I have discussed with my family, and I feel it’s the best one for me and my overall well-being. I will deeply miss my teammates and competing on the field. I wish my brothers the best and look forward to taking the field again with them soon!”

Diaz’s memorable debut came on Aug 5th when he homered off Mets ace Jacob DeGrom, much to the delight of his father who was being interviewed on camera by Fox Sports Florida’s Craig Minervini at that moment. However, it was an underwhelming 2019 for him in the MLB after tearing up Triple-A. Diaz finished slashing .173/.259/.307 with five HR and 23 RBI. He struck out 59 times in 201 PAs.

In 2020, Diaz went 2-for-9 with three strikeouts, but made solid contact on several at-bats.

Mattingly called Diaz the Marlins’ second baseman “now and of the future.” He’ll lose whatever development may have come this season, and if he’s not the one, there are a couple of intriguing prospects behind him. Jose Devers, the 20-year-old lefty who came over as part of the Stanton trade, is one and Joe Dunand, a 24-year-old Miami native who went to Gulliver Prep and the nephew of ARod, is the other.

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MLB Season on the Brink

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported today there are no new Marlins positives from yesterday’s tests. They’re holding at 18 positives for now. But a new rash of positives have sprouted within the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The Cardinals have had six positive tests over the last couple of days, three players and three staff members.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the conversation between Manfred and Clark was “not a threat but a reality check that was relayed to players — and has spread quickly among them: We — all of us — need to clean this up, because if we don’t, Major League Baseball in 2020 is going to be over.”

Manfred has since backtracked off that position some, saying he’s “not a quitter.”

This weekend is seen as a crucial juncture for the sport, both in terms of hoping for a limit of positive tests and in players abiding by protocols. The Marlins outbreak could be the defining development of the year.

Other Roster Moves

On Monday, the team announced the addition of two pitchers via waivers, RHP Justin Shafer and LHP Josh D. Smith. Shafer is a South Florida native and Smith pitched for the Marlins in 2019.

Shafer made 40 relief appearances for the Blue Jays over the last two seasons. He sports a 3.75 ERA with 41 K and 32 BB over 41 IP. Smith pitched six games for Miami in 2019 and posted an 8.31 ERA. He surrendered four earned runs over 4.1 IP.

A day later, the Marlins announced they claimed RHP Mike Morin off waivers from Milwaukee. Over a six-year MLB career, the 29yo Morin has appeared for five different clubs, posting a 4.65 ERA.

Free agent signings

Miami also signed minor league free agent outfielder Travis Snider, who last played in MLB in 2015. Over an eight-year career, 32yo Snider played 630 games and hit 54 home runs. His slash line in 2015, his last year in the Majors, is .232/.315/.350.

Wilkin Castillo’s signing signals the return of a former Marlin. Castillo spent most of 2019 with the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate New Orleans, but he played two games for Miami. He went 1-for-7 with two RBI. His 6/22/19 start came nearly 10 years to the day (6/20/09) of his last MLB appearance.

Pat Venditte‘s signing brings back the “switch pitcher” after he was with the club in Spring. 35yo Venditte has the ability to work off the mound with either arm, depending upon the handedness of the hitter.

Venditte’s career ERA sits at 5.03 over 68 innings pitched. He’s another MLB-experienced arm to add to a Marlins pitching staff that must have been decimated by the COVID outbreak.

Marlins breakout candidates

5 Marlins Breakout Candidates for 2020

For the Miami Marlins, the 2020 season arrives with new faces and renewed hope. While not the normal spring beginning by any means, this optimism feels real and is largely tied to a number of potential Marlins breakout candidates.

The 2020 MLB season arrived last night in rainy Washington, D.C. For the Marlins, they’re a few hours north in Philadelphia awaiting their first tilt of the truncated season. The landscape of MLB transformed this year thanks to COVID-19, new rules and an eleventh-hour agreement to expand the playoffs. Everyone has a chance, and for Miami, their opportunity to break a 17-year postseason drought could be decided by a handful of players.

So here’s a look at five Marlins breakout candidates for the 2020 season.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Sandy Alcantara

Miami’s Opening Day starter is 24-year-old Sandy Alcantara. A first-time all-star in 2019, Alcantara finished 6-14 with a 3.88 ERA, 151 strikeouts, 81 walks and two complete-game shutouts. His best work came over an 11-game stretch to end the season. Over his final 74.1 innings, Alcantara posted a 2.74 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 62 strikeouts. He hit seven innings in seven of his last 11 starts.

“I think that’s the biggest thing in my life, being the Opening Day starter. I feel great about that,” Alcantara said. “I’m ready to go.”

In 2019, Alcantara went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA versus Philadelphia. He sports a five-pitch arsenal which includes a solid fastball-sinker-slider combo. His changeup and curve are weapons versus lefties.

“His stuff is as good as anyone,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said recently. “I don’t care who you want to put out there. His stuff is as good as anyone’s.”

For the Marlins, if Alcantara can ascend to top-line starter level, the 2020 season will be a success.

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Alcantara said. “They want me to be a leader. That’s what I’m trying to do. Keep preparing myself. Keep getting better. Become an ace.”

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Pablo Lopez

If the Marlins are going to contend for a playoff spot, they’ll need Pablo Lopez to make a leap. In 2019, Lopez sported a 4.23 ERA through mid-June, allowing four earned-runs or less in 13 of his 14 starts. But after he went down with strained right shoulder, he wasn’t the same pitcher.

Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has been impressed by Lopez throughout the spring and summer, particularly considering the tragic passing of Lopez’s father recently. He said Lopez is the pitcher he’s “most excited about.” And Lopez has worked tirelessly to develop his game, adding a cutter to his arsenal, which already includes a top-level changeup.

Following an impressive performance during a simulated game last Thursday, Mattingly noted that it was “the best I’ve ever seen Pablo look as far as being that aggressive guy.”

Lopez also looked good against the Braves. He dispatched Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman on six pitches in the first inning of that game. Lopez will start the home opener versus the Baltimore Orioles next week.

Starting him in Marlins Park is a nod to Lopez’s struggles on the road in 2019, where he went 2-5 with a 7.36 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. At home, Lopez was much better, going 3-3 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Isan Díaz

The hype surrounding Isan Díaz seemed well worth it when he took Jacob DeGrom deep in his MLB debut. That memorable moment, though, was followed by uncharacteristic struggles at the plate for the 24-year-old. Díaz finished his first year in the Majors with a .173 batting average, five home runs and 23 RBI.

“There were a lot of things going on mentally,” Díaz said of the struggles. “I wasn’t allowing my ability to evolve in the game. Those are things that happen.

“I had a great group of guys here who told me to take it as a learning curve and come back ready for next year,” he said. “Here we are for this 2020 season and already there’s a big difference with how I’m mentally feeling and how I’m going at this. I think that last year’s failure actually is going to help me for this year.”

Mattingly sees Díaz as the team’s second baseman now and of the future. He said Díaz’s “track record show that he’s gonna hit.”

Díaz should find the addition of new bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson hugely beneficial. Díaz has raw power but was too patient as a rookie, falling behind often. He’s already demonstrated strides at the plate in the exhibitions versus Atlanta. Although he only had one hit and one walk, there were productive at-bats.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Jorge Alfaro

The player who could enjoy the most gains from the addition of Rowson is Jorge Alfaro. The 27-year-old catcher flashed his potential with the bat in 2019, connecting on 18 home runs, 14 doubles and 57 RBI. What hurt Alfaro was a 38.4-percent swing-and-miss rate, a 48-percent chase rate and a 33.1-percent strikeout rate.

Rowson says he wants Marlins hitters to take “swings to do damage,” and Alfaro can certainly do that. He sported a 44.8 percent hard-hit rate (a ball with an exit velocity of at least 95 mph) last season.

Alfaro demonstrated the new aggressive approach on Tuesday when he punched the first pitch he saw over the leftfield fence at Truist Park. In the two games, Alfaro went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI.

He’ll also need to improve defensively. Alfaro posted the fourth-most errors by a catcher (11) and the third-most passed balls (11). He’ll be mentored this year by Francisco Cervelli, who’s well known for his defensive acumen.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Brian Anderson

Although the Marlins added higher profile names to their lineup (Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickersonand Jonathan Villar), Brian Anderson remains a key component to this offense. Anderson’s second year ended in August after a hit-by-pitch fractured his left hand. He slashed .261/.341/.468 with 20 home runs, 33 doubles and 66 RBI.

“I think he’s been getting better and better,” Mattingly said. “I think he’s got all the attributes. I’ve talked about him a lot from the standpoint of he sees the ball good and controls the strike zone. He’s got a good swing. He uses the whole field. Everything’s there in place.”

Anderson does have the tendency to get frustrated at the plate, evidenced by his 0-for-4 performance in the first exhibition versus the Braves. But Anderson bounced back with a solid 2-for-3 outing, including a double and run scored.

Adding Villar, Dickerson and Aguilar around Anderson should also provide the 27-year-old third baseman with lineup protection he’s never received in Miami.

“Those types of guys are definitely gonna make our lineup just more well-rounded and just tougher to pitch to,” Anderson said. “For me, I’m hoping that means I get more pitches to hit. It’s my job to make sure that I get those good pitches and I hit them.”

Recent reports indicate that Miami and Anderson have discussed a long-term contract extension.

“They’ve obviously given me an incredible opportunity here so I would love to stay here,” said Anderson, who the Marlins drafted in 2014 (third round).

“I love the direction that we’re going. I love getting to hear Derek talk about expecting to win,” he said. “That’s something that can grow and build and we can start making something special here.”

Marlins 2020 roster

5 Predictions for the Miami Marlins 2020 Roster

Miami named Sandy Alcantara the Opening Day starter earlier this week, answering one of the big questions for the Marlins 2020 roster.

Alcantara’s final 11 starts of the 2019 season, coupled with an impressive spring/summer, has propelled the 24-year-old to the front of the rotation. Spots 2-4 will likely feature Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez and Jose Urena in some order.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly has mentioned the 30-man roster will be pitcher-heavy. He’s considering carrying as many as 17 hurlers to Philadelphia to open the season. That leaves 13 slots for position players on the 30-man set.

The Marlins won’t fully cut down their roster until after the two exhibition games in Atlanta next week. With that in mind, here are five predictions for the Marlins 2020 roster come July 24th.

Miami Marlins 2020 Roster – Fifth Starter Prediction

For the fifth starter, there’s a four-man race. Jordan Yamamoto, Elieser Hernandez and Robert Dugger all have Major League experience, whereas Nick Neidert would be making his MLB debut if he’s it.

The prediction for Opening Day is Yamamoto. Yams tossed back-to-back seven-inning shutouts to open his MLB career. In 2019, he made 15 starts and threw 78.2 innings, posting a 4.46 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 82 strikeouts. He’ll need to improve upon his 4.1 BB/9 and 1.3 HR/9 rates, but his track record in the minors indicates he will.

For the others, Hernandez and Dugger can both transition to the bullpen. Neidert probably won’t break camp with the club, but he could be the first pitcher called up should the rotation suffer injuries.

Bullpen Prediction

If Yamamoto takes the 5-spot, Hernandez and Dugger likely land in the bullpen as long relievers. Mattingly has mentioned the possibility of a piggyback with the fifth starter, and both of those pitchers could fill that role.

The Marlins turned over much of their terrible bullpen from 2019. Free agent additions Brandon Kintzler and Yimi Garcia should be backend staples, with Kintzler taking the closer role. Non-roster invitee Brad Boxberger stands as another veteran option with closing experience.

Adam Conley, Sterling Sharp, Ryne Stanek and Drew Steckenrider also seem like locks.

Predicting the final three arms for the ‘pen: Jeff Brigham (if he’s fully healthy), rookie Alex Vesia and Nick Vincent.

Brigham didn’t pitch in the spring thanks to a right bicep injury, but he sports maybe the best slider on the staff. Vesia has impressed and consistently thrown strikes. Mattingly called Vincent an “experienced, strike-throwing veteran,” which is key.

Should Brigham’s injury linger, look for Aaron Northcraft (or Josh Smith) to take his spot. If Mattingly wants a third left-handed reliever, he may swap Vincent for Stephen Tarpley, who Miami acquired via trade from the Yankees in January.

Dark horse options include prospects Jordan Holloway and Jorge Guzman. Both are starters, but they’ve impressed during camp and could be bullpen arms if need be.

Outfield Prediction

The unfortunate reality is that the Marlins are missing two outfielders who, in spring, figured to play significant roles. Matt Joyce and Lewis Brinson would have competed for right and center field respectively. Pulling those two from the competition simplified Mattingly’s decision making.

The prediction for the starting outfield on Opening Day is: Corey Dickerson in left, Jonathan Villar in center and Harold Ramirez in right. Monte Harrison will make the team and rotate between center and right. Garrett Cooper will see time in right and as DH.

While Ramirez is aided by Joyce’s absence, Mattingly called him “the most impressive overall” of the right field candidates. “He’s a guy people don’t give as much credit to. He’s been working hard in the outfield to get better.”

Magneuris Sierra, who is out of minor league options, should also make the team. His versatility, speed and defensive acumen carve out a role for him early, though he could be replaced once Joyce returns. He could also be among the cuts when the team pares down from 30 players to 28 and 26.

“Mags is a guy that we continue to see develop,” Mattingly said. He envisions Sierra as someone who can “[s]teal a bag, [be a] defensive replacement, you’ve got the 10th inning-type thing. There’re some scenarios in this type of setting. That creates a different role.”

Mattingly did say recently that both Joyce and Brinson will have a chance to play this year and that both players are optimistic and upbeat. Their delay makes the first few weeks of the season important for both Sierra and Harrison if they want to stick with the club.

Prospect Jesus Sanchez could find a role on the big club as well, if Mattingly wants a left-handed bat with pop off the bench.

Infield Prediction

The Marlins 2020 roster along the infield has been fairly set since the offseason. Holdovers from 2019 include Jorge Alfaro, Isan Diaz and Miguel Rojas. Offseason addition Jesus Aguilar remains the odds-on favorite for first base. And Brian Anderson seems poised to retake his regular role at third.

Cooper will spell Aguilar at first from time to time, and super utility Jon Berti can plug the other holes. Villar will likely spend some time cycling through middle infield spots in addition to centerfield.

For Diaz, the start to the season is particularly important. Mattingly has called Diaz “the guy” and “the second baseman of the future” but the presence of Villar should keep pressure on him to produce. His minor league track record indicates he’ll hit.

New bench coach James Rowson said he’s been impressed by Diaz. “I love the swing. He does a lot of things that work well.”

Should Aguilar struggle out the gate, first base prospect Lewin Diaz might get an early call-up. He’s a powerful, sweet-swinging lefty who’ll be a mainstay in the lineup for years to come.

Local product Eddy Alvarez, a switch-hitting utilityman, could find a role should injuries pile up.

Miami Marlins 2020 Roster – Rotating Positions

The final prediction for the Marlins 2020 roster is that there will be rotating positions. With this group, there’s fluid nature to the lineup. GM Mike Hill has assembled a group of players who can play multiple positions, and this versatility affords Mattingly the flexibility to shuffle players based on matchup and who’s hot.

Lineup fixtures like Villar, Cooper, Rojas, Ramirez and Anderson can bounce around the diamond and outfield. The addition of the designated hitter to the NL gives Mattingly another bat, and multiple players can fill that role as well.

Even the construction of the bench should feature players who can be deployed across a number of spots. Berti can play all over. Sierra can man each outfield position. Same for Harrison.

The ability for the roster to rotate positions means Mattingly can optimize the lineup card almost every day.

Jonathan Villar, right, works with Isan Diaz on the first day of spring training. Villar, an infielder, could end up in center field. (Craig Davis for Five Reasons Sports)

5 Marlins Roster Tidbits as Summer Camp Continues

The Miami Marlins have split their 60-man player pool workouts between Marlins Park and their facility in Jupiter, FL. While there’s been some movement back-and-forth by a few players, for the most part, players expected to be on the 30-man Opening Day roster are practicing at Marlins Park. There’s nothing set in stone yet, but there’s certainly growing clarity for the Marlins roster.

Here’s a look at five tidbits from recent media availabilities that are clues to the Marlins roster on Opening Day.

Jonathan Villar’s Versatility

The Marlins roster received a significant upgrade when the team landed Jonathan Villar this offseason.

In 2019, Villar slashed .273/.339/.453 and posted a 4.0 WAR over 162 games for Baltimore. He started 158 of them at either second base or at shortstop. Villar brings durability, defensive acumen and consistent offensive production.

“When you trade for Jonathan, that’s one of those moves as a manager that you’re like ‘Yes’ right away,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He gives you a guy up top. He’s a switch-hitter, power and average, steals bags. A guy that’s exciting up top.”

Defensively, though, it’s unclear what position Villar will man day-to-day.

According to Mattingly, Villar could bounce “back and forth between centerfield, second base, shortstop and DH.” He also has experience playing third base.

Villar said he’s “here for the team” and the possibility of playing multiple positions is one he’s ready for.

“You have to prepare mentally and physically every day. I’m prepared for whatever comes.”

Villar admitted some discomfort working in centerfield and said judging line drives has been particularly difficult early on. However, his spot in the lineup is all but assured.

“I still like him up top in the order,” Mattingly said, citing Villar’s combination of power and speed. The addition of the DH to the National League simplifies things for the Marlins, as Villar is an option there.

Marlins Roster: Fifth Starter Competition

Prior to Spring Training’s COVID-19 shut down, the frontend of Miami’s pitching rotation seemed set. While he hasn’t announced the Opening Day starter, Mattingly admitted they’ve settled on one.

The assumption at this point is that 2019 All-Star Sandy Alcantara will get the Opening Day nod in Philadelphia. From there, it’s likely that Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez and José Ureña will follow in some order.

Mattingly mentioned the team leans toward a regular five-man rotation. They’ve kicked around the idea of piggybacking but have ruled out a six-man set.

“I think we will probably try to settle on five [pitchers] and feel good about that, knowing that we have depth moving forward with the other guys,” Mattingly said of the staff.

The fifth spot candidates are: Jordan Yamamoto, Elieser Hernandez, Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert.

While most seemed to view it as a two-man race, Mattingly was quick to add the 23-year-old righty into the mix. He said Neidert’s in a “position to stay.”

In five minor league seasons, Neidert sports a 3.20 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and an 8.1 K/9 rate over 460.2 innings pitched. He features a 90-93 mph sinking fastball that pounds the bottom of the zone. His deceptive delivery can fool hitters.

In six innings pitched this spring, Neidert gave up only one earned run. Yamamoto surrendered three earned runs over eight innings pitched. Hernandez gave up six earned runs in his 11 innings. Dugger was the best of the bunch this Spring, not giving up any runs over 9.2 innings of work.

Isan Diaz

Don Mattingly came out on Wednesday in support of Isan Díaz as not only the Marlins current second baseman, but also the second baseman of the future.

“He’s the guy,” Matting said. That’s reassuring for the 24-year-old Puerto Rico native, especially considering his struggles in 2019.

After a rousing debut that saw Diaz connect on a home run against Jacob DeGrom, much to the delight of his father in the stands, hitting didn’t come as easily for him as it did in Triple-A. Diaz finished his 2019 stint with the Marlins with a .173 batting average and .259 on-base percentage in 201 plate appearances.

The struggles continued this spring, as he managed to slash just .103/.235/.103 over 34 plate appearances.

“We look at Isan as our second baseman,” said Mattingly. “Not only now, but we think he’s going to be the second baseman of the future.”

This vote of confidence comes after the Marlins brought in a productive offensive force in Villar that could play Diaz’s position.

“His track record shows that he’s gonna hit” Mattingly said. The manager acknowledged that it wasn’t great for Diaz last year, but that he “had spurts, had moments.”

Mattingly likened Diaz to Brian Anderson as some who “sees the ball well, gets himself good pitches to hit. Sometimes maybe a little too passive, but knows the strike zone, is capable of using the whole field, has got a clean swing.”

Learning from these experiences will be key for Diaz. He’s viewed as the second baseman right now, but an extended struggle may force Mattingly’s hand in a truncated season.

Marlins Roster: Bullpen Shakeup

Last season, 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.

“You look at our overall bullpen performance, and it was not good,” said Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill in December.

The biggest addition for the bullpen in 2020 was 35-year-old Brandon Kintzler. The 11-year MLB veteran signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the Marlins.

Kintzler has taken a mentor role with this young group. He’s stressed value of routines and expressed that “this generation throws way too much” and that they’ll have to “figure out how to be a bullpen guy the big leagues.”

The bullpen turnover has also seen the addition of 31-year-old Brad Boxberger. Boxberger has 77 career saves, 3.59 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over MLB eight seasons, including a league-leading 41 with Tampa Bay in 2015. In 2018 with Arizona, he registered 32 saves.

Among the other additions stands Yimi Garcia. The 29-year-old five-year MLB vet posted a 3.61 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 62.1 innings pitched with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A power arm, Garcia throws strikes and avoids walks, two things that will help this bullpen.

These veterans will help the development of younger arms like newcomers Stephen TarpleySterling Sharp, Alex Vesia and Nick Vincent. They’ll join incumbent relievers Jeff BrighamAdam ConleyRyne Stanek and Drew Steckenrider.

Kintzler is the presumptive closer come Opening Day. Mattingly also heralded Boxberger as one of the experienced arms in the ‘pen. Garcia impressed this spring, and Sharp is a Rule 5 pick who will need to be on the Marlins roster to be kept.

Mattingly also seems high on Vesia, the left prospect who sported a 41 scoreless inning streak recently.

“There’s plenty to like. Everywhere he went he had success.” Mattingly said Vesia “pitched with confidence” & “has some moxie about him,” noting “He’s on the attack. He’s not afraid. He’s a strike thrower.”

Monte Harrison

Heading into Spring Training, Monte Harrison stood among the options for centerfield. He competed with Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra, among others, for the spot.

Over 27 plate appearances before the COVID-19 shut down, Harrison swung the bat well. He slashed .364/.481/.500, had six RBI, three doubles and a team-leading six stolen bases.

“Monte looks good,” Mattingly said. “He’s swung the bat good here. Plays with energy, plays fast. He’s aggressive.”

Mattingly called Harrison a “mega-talented kid.” The 24-year-old came to Miami as part of the Christian Yelichdeal and has a lofty ceiling. His combination of speed and strength reinforce his all-around tools. He has an 84 percent success rate with stolen bases over his minor league career and could be a 30-30 guy at the Major League level.

“Monte’s worked really hard to continue to improve,” Mattingly said.  “And he’s going to continue to improve and get better. We’re happy with the strides he’s been making. Obviously, the new summer camp puts him back in the equation.”

Recap of the 2019 Marlins

It’s hard to recap such a negative season, but here we go.

Let’s all be honest, no one expected the team to be any good whatsoever. We expected at least a 60-win season with many ups and downs. The Marlins finished the season with a 57-105 record which was pretty much expected.

I’m sure we would’ve loved to avoid 100 losses but it is what is, it did secure the third overall pick in the 2020 draft. But then, this recap would’ve probably been similar, anyway… 

There were definitely some bright spots for the Marlins this season. Just to name a few, Sandy Alcantara started to show what he can do, Jon Berti became the perfect utility man, Harold Ramirez did great in his rookie season, and Isan Diaz started to become comfortable at the major league level. Diaz started making lesser errors and showed comfort at the plate.

Here’s a recap of the positives of the season:

Sandy Alcantara

Alcantara was voted to represent the Marlins in the All-Star Game because of his start to the regular season. His Pre All-Star stats are as follows: 4-8 record, 3.82 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and an opponent batting average of .241. After the All-Star break, he hit a bump in the road where he started to show inconsistency in his fastball command and started to walk more batters. 

August he began to turn things around, in five games started he had a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings pitched with a 27:12 strikeout to walk ratio. September came along and he reached another level. In six games started, he had a 2-2 record with a 2.59 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched with a 35:9 strikeout to walk ratio. September became Sandy’s best month without a doubt.

Jon Berti

Jon Berti blossomed into the perfect utility man. He can play all positions in the infield and outfield. He also showcased his insane speed on the base paths. He swiped 17 bases this year, he would’ve swiped more but he spent some time on the IL. In 73 games played, he hit for a .273 average with six home runs and 24 RBIs. Berti is a nice surprise for the Marlins, he definitely made a case for a roster spot next season.

Isan Diaz

Isan Diaz is an interesting story. He absolutely tore up Triple-A pitching and earned himself a call up to the show back in August. He launched a home run off Jacob deGrom in his MLB debut but rookie struggles kicked in early. He was having trouble making routine plays and was uncomfortable at the plate. As he gained more experience he became more comfortable and didn’t think too much while on the field. He ended up finishing the season with a .173 average, five home runs, and 23 RBIs. Not the best stat line but he did only play 49 games while being completely tensed up. It should be fun to see how he plays next year.

Harold Ramirez

Harold Ramirez signed with the Marlins during the 2018 offseason and what a great sign he is. In 119 games, he hit for a .276 average, hit 11 home runs and drove in 50 RBIs. He definitely showcased why he was formerly a Top 100 prospect when he was in the Blue Jays organization. He can play all three outfield positions and has a very decent defense. He without a doubt became a fan favorite for Marlins fans and earned a roster spot for the 2020 season.

Your 2019 Marlins were not the best but they did show improvement. They may have lost six more games this year than they did in 2018 but the pitching held its own and we got to see some rookies showcase their ability. The club next season will be more competitive than it was this year and it’s going to be more fun with more rookies making their debuts and some new faces from free agency…

We will be here to recap when they win the World Series…

The Isan Diaz dilemma: when should he get the call-up?

Isan Diaz is one of the four players that came to the Miami Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade.

The trade that most of the MLB annalysts call a win for the Brewers, even though we haven’t seen all the parts included to play in the majors.

Jordan Yamamoto was a great surprise for the world of baseball, and even for some Marlins fans, because he was supposed to be the least attractive of the four players that came from the Brewers.

He had to be called up because of the injuries some Marlins pitchers were dealing with, and performed setting new records for rookie starters in MLB.

Lewis Brinson missed his first shot in the majors, but should be back up with the time at some point this year, and Monte Harrison should make his MLB debut this season also.

However, Isan Diaz is the one putting us to think when he will get a call-up.

Starlin Castro is having his worst season as a professional baseball and will probably not be with the team next year, so for our Leandro Soto, it is the right time to bring Díaz to the majors.

Check Leandro’s heated exchange with Joe Frisaro, of MLB.com, about the subject:

And finally, what he and Ricardo Montes de Oca, of Cinco Razones Podcast, discussed during their radio show at 990 ESPN Deportes. 

For them,  Diaz’s call up should be coming soon, since Brian Anderson is injured, and will probably end up in the injury list.

For Leandro, he should come up and play second base, the position he has been playing in the minors this year, and move the Dominican to third base.

 

I feel like Castro should not stop the Marlins from giving Diaz a very deserved shot, especially since he is just a veteran performing under what is expected from him.

It’s the time to move Castro to third, or figure out a way to give Diaz a chance to play four or five days a week.

The Marlins have done it with their young pitchers. Why not do it with their position players too?

What do you think? Is it time now or should the Marlins wait until September?

 

Listen to Cinco Razones Podcast clicking here. We will be back talking about the second part of the season soon, so Tony and Dutch, if you guys are reading this, you better get ready!