Tag Archive for: Magneuris Sierra

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.


5 Takeaways from Marlins Wild Road Trip

The Miami Marlins get a home opener, finally. After a 6-day road trip morphed into a 23-day odyssey, the Marlins are set to defend their home (new) turf for the first time this season. Miami enters the game after a thrilling 14-11 victory over the Blue Jays and own a 1-game over the Braves in the NL East.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins road trip.

Marlins Road Trip Produced Some Wild Numbers

The teams trip went from six days to 23 days. They spent eight of those days in quarantine. They’ve made 58 roster moves, used 45 players total, including 26 pitchers. In 2019, they used 25 pitchers for the whole season. All 162 games.

Of the original 30 players on the Opening Day roster, 18 have landed on the IL and one has since opted out. Two of the recent additions are IL bound as well. The Marlins gave up a franchise record seven home runs in a game, and still won!

Despite the wild trip, Miami managed an 8-4 record, including a 5-game winning streak. They posted a 4-1 record in 1-run games, a vast improvement thus far from 2019, where they went 16-28 in 1-run contests.

Finally, the Marlins odds for making the playoffs have climbed to 25 percent for ESPN and 23.3 percent for FanGraphs. If they make the postseason, it’ll be the first time since 2003. The Marlins have the second-longest current playoff drought in MLB (Seattle, 2001).

Aguilar and Anderson Mashing for the Marlins

The Marlins offense has improved considerably under the watchful eyes of bench coach James Rowson and hitting coach Eric Duncan. The offense scores five runs-per-game this year, versus 3.8 in 2019. And the team is connecting on 1.25 home-runs-per-game, which is a vast improvement upon last season’s 0.90 clip.

Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson are leading the way in that department. Both have a team-leading four home runs this season. Aguilar leads the team in batting average (.311) and Anderson leads in OPS (1.007). Anderson also leads in RBI (13), but Aguilar is right behind (12).

Marlins manager Don Mattingly has spaced out the two in the lineup, so as long as the players around them continue to get on, these two can knock them in.

Mags Sierra and Eddy Alvarez Deserve Playing Time

Magneuris Sierra’s performance of late demands attention. Sierra’s game-changing speed affects opponent pitching staffs and the Marlins are 5-0 when he’s in the starting lineup. In seven games this season (five starts), Sierra’s hitting .286 with a .421 on-base percentage. He’s played solid defense in the outfield and stolen one base. While some of the other Marlins outfielders have sputtered early on, Sierra has proven to be a sparkplug.

Eddy Alvarez has also impressed of late. After starting his career 0-for-9, Alvarez has gone 4-for-10 at the plate with a double, three runs scored and two stolen bases. His play defensively at second base has been a marvel. He made game-saving plays (plural) versus the Mets last Friday. Mattingly said recently he likes Alvarez in against RHP.

Both of these young players have earned spots in the lineup for now.

Pitching Has Been…Okay

The Marlins lost three members of their starting rotation and about two-thirds of their bullpen. The front office scrambled to assemble a piecemeal staff and the results thus far have been…okay.

The Marlins are 12th in team ERA (4.22), 12th in batting-average-against (.233) and 17th in WHIP (1.34). This season, the bullpen is 6-for-7 in save situations. Last season, the Marlins featured one of the worst bullpens in MLB. Miami relievers posted the fifth-worst ERA (4.97) and their WHIP (1.45) was seventh worst. Relievers had a save percentage of 55.1 in 2019 and blew 22 save opportunities.

Brandon Kintzler is 3-for-3 in saves thus far with a 1.42 ERA. Stephen Tarpley has impressed as well, posting a 2.84 ERA, two wins and a save. Generally, the bullpen has been good in high leverage spots, despite the home run binge from the Blue Jays and the extra innings loss.

For the starters, Pablo Lopez (1-1, 1.80 ERA, 11 K) has become the de facto ace. And Elieser Hernandez, other than one bad inning against Toronto, seems sharp as well. (0-0, 2.79 ERA, 10 K).

Monte Harrison & Lewis Brinson Struggling

The excitement of Monte Harrison’s call up saw Marlins fans frothing. And though he’s been more than stellar in the outfield, Harrison has not really come through at the plate. In 20 plate appearances, Harrison is 2-for-18 with two walks, two RBI and 11 strikeouts. He’s struck out each of his last six at-bats.

The key for Harrison is putting the bat on the ball. He’s seeing 4.6 pitches-per-plate-appearance and he’s hitting .286 on balls-put-in-play. If he can get on the basepaths, his speed remains an incredible weapon.

Lewis Brinson, meanwhile, has gone hitless in his return to the Marlins. He’s 0-for-12 in 15 plate appearances with three walks but just strikeouts. He’s shown increased discipline at the dish, seeing 4.7 pitches-per-plate-appearance, which is up almost a full point for his career average.

Bottom line for Brinson, though, he needs to produce. Hopefully, he and Harrison will see more opportunities in the coming days and can shake off these slow starts.

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 Players

5 Marlins Players to Know for 2020

The Miami Marlins have finished their summer camp training this week and are in Atlanta for a pair of exhibition games. The two contests versus the Braves will be the finial tune ups for the 60-game season sprint, which starts Friday. New Marlins players and roster holdovers alike are competing for spots on the roster.

The Marlins will travel with 41 players to Atlanta but will need to pare down to 30 for Opening Day. The unique nature of this season could see roster changes happening regularly. So even if a player doesn’t initially make the team, ala Jordan Yamamoto, they could play a role later in the season.

For Opening Day, the Marlins will be in Philadelphia. According to SportsBettingDime.com’s odds page, Miami enters the game as an underdog versus the Phillies. Sandy Alcantara will toe the rubber for the Marlins to start the year, but there’s still some uncertainty regarding the rest of the roster.

With that in mind, here’s a look at five under-the-radar Marlins players who could play a role in 2020.

Marlins Players to Know: Jordan Holloway

Jordan Holloway has been something of a surprise during summer camp. The 24-year-old right-hander comes in as the No. 20 prospect for the Marlins according to MLBPipeline. At 6-foot-6, Holloway stands as an imposing figure on the mound and has found success working at Marlins Park this summer.

“What he’s done in a couple of outings here has been pleasantly surprising and has put him kind of in the mix,” Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. said. “We have to stay open-minded. We’re going to be able to expand our roster, and there are going to be some guys that are given an opportunity that maybe in a regular season wouldn’t have been given that opportunity.”

Holloway boasts a fastball that touches triple-digits and sports an above-average curveball. Also, he’s fully healthy after a 2017 Tommy John surgery.

Stottlemyre said Holloway is “probably the nastiest guy we have in our bullpen.”

Holloway’s electric stuff and three-quarter delivery could make him a viable option in the bullpen, despite his starter pedigree. The major point of emphasis for him, though, will be command. Holloway walked 66 batters over 95 innings at Single-A Jupiter in 2019.

Marlins Player to Know: Alex Vesia

Another electric arm who could help in the ‘pen in 2020 is Alex Vesia. Listed as the No. 24 overall prospect for the Marlins by MLBPipeline, Vesia posted a 1.62 ERA with 138 strikeouts over 100 innings while advancing to Double-A over his last two seasons. He finished 2019 on a 35-inning scoreless streak and pitched six scoreless innings this spring. At 24-years-old, the lefty reliever has turned heads with his work this summer.

“Everywhere he went he had success,” Don Mattingly said of Vesia. Miami’s manager went on to say Vesia has “pitched with confidence” and “has some moxie about him,” noting “[h]e’s on the attack; he’s not afraid; he’s a strike thrower.”

Vesia’s fastball flies at 92-95 mph and touches 97. His deceptive delivery and high spin-rate gets on hitters quickly, helping those strikeout numbers.

The Marlins are limited with left-handed relievers and Vesia is the highest-rated lefty prospect in Miami’s system. If he can consistently throw strikes, the rookie could find himself pitching meaningful innings in 2020.

Marlins Player to Know: Nick Neidert

When the Marlins optioned Yamamoto to Jupiter, most assumed Elieser Hernandez had won the fifth starter competition. While that may ultimately prove to be true, one of the names still in the running is Nick Neidert.

The 23-year-old righty stands as the Marlins No. 10 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline. And throughout the summer, Mattingly hasn’t hesitated to throw Neidert into the mix for the 2020 roster. He said he’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 and he was sharp in the Arizona Fall League.

Over six innings this spring, Neidert gave up just one earned run. He’s been up-and-down in recent intrasquad games and could ultimately slot in as a long reliever or piggyback option out of the bullpen.

Marlins Player to Know: Eddy Alvarez

The Marlins’ bench seems set, but local product Eddy Alvarez continues to make a late push for the 30-man roster. The 30-year-old Miami native and Columbus High graduate seeks to make his Major League debut in 2020, which would add to a resume that includes a 2014 Winter Olympics silver medal in speedskating.

Alvarez is a roster wildcard. He’s another player with positional versatility and he’s a switch hitter. At the Triple-A level in 2019, Alvarez hit .323 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI over 66 games.

“I like the kid,” Mattingly said of Alvarez. “I think he’s got a chance to help us depending on what happens during this this camp.”

Should Alvarez make the team, the Marlins would have to make a roster move, as he’s not currently on the 40-man roster.

“We’re pieces of the puzzle,” Alvarez said in March. “If I fit in a certain algorithm, then it’ll be time for me to go. It’s tough as a baseball player, it really is, not knowing much, but you just have to play.”

Marlins Players to Know: Magneuris Sierra

One of the decisions the Marlins must decide in the next few days is what to do with Magneuris Sierra. The big hitch in this question is the fact that Sierra is out of minor-league options. Should the team elect not to put Sierra on the Opening Day roster, he would have to pass through waivers before being reassigned within the organization.

Sierra’s best weapon is his speed. The 24-year-old should serve as Miami’s top pinch-running option this season after he stole 36 bases in 50 attempts in 2019. Working in his favor in the 60-game season are the expanded rosters and the new extra-innings rule.

“We think there is a role for a guy who can steal a bag on this club right now,” Mattingly said. “You’ll see teams in pennant races going down the stretch [looking for speed].”

For the 2020 season, MLB has implemented a new rule for extra innings: each half-inning will start with a runner on second base.

“That creates a different role, not just for him, but a few other guys as well,” Mattingly said of for Sierra, who can also be used as a defensive replacement.

Sierra, a left-handed hitter, also showed strides at the plate in limited action with the Marlins in 2019. He hit .350 over 40 at-bats. He has eight stolen bases (in 15 attempts) over his 91 MLB career games.