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Marlins Could Contend in 2021

So another offseason has come and gone for the Marlins. After a magical run into the 2020 playoffs, the Marlins look to do it again. With every single major media outlet predicting that the Marlins will finish 5th place in the NL East, Miami is left asking: Who even are the Marlins? Are they a playoff team or 50-win team? If you asked me on the day the 2020 season ended, I would have said the latter was reasonable. Now, after the late moves made in Miami, I would argue the former. 

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Here’s why the Marlins can make a run:

 

Starting Pitching

 

The starting pitching is young, but they have the potential to explode as a top-5 rotation in this upcoming season. In his piece on MLB.com, Thomas Harrigan explained that the Fish have the potential to be the best rotation in baseball. Although I believe this is a premature prediction (especially for this season), if Sandy, Sixto, and Pablo reach even half of those expectations outlined, the Marlins will be in a contending spot. With depth spots allocated to high potential arms Elieser Hernandez and Trevor Rogers, the Marlins staff is in the best position it has been in, maybe ever.

 

Bullpen

 

Oh boy. This was a sore subject last year for Miami. Past Garcia and Kintzler, they lacked consistency. Our bullpen ranked in the bottom of the majors leading to losses in games before Kintzler or Garcia could seal the deal. But now with Dylan Floro, Anthony Bass, and John Curtiss to fill the gaps, the Marlins bullpen is solid. They are not the best bullpen in the league by any means, but they would 100% be a top-15 bullpen (above average). In combination with top starting pitching, the Marlins could become a force to be reckoned with defensively. 

 

Hitting

 

The Marlins offensive output will not change. The Adam Duvall signing helps, but does not put the Marlins in a significantly better position in the 2021 season. Their bats last year performed much worse than what was *statistically* expected of them, though. In combination with another year of experience and a positive regression to their mean (20th-25 rather than close to dead last), there should be a little more production. Although Brian Anderson, Starling Marte, and Adam Duvall will most likely be the names accredited with any increased success, I expect a slight increase in overall performance.

 

Overall for the Marlins

 

This Marlins team has what it takes to do it again if the starters perform as expected, the backend bullpen overperforms similarly to last season, and the hitting performs as expected. If the Marlins make the playoffs it will be in the Wild Card, but that is nothing to scoff at. They have the perfect balance of confidence from last year and returning grit to beat the odds. Yes, they have to have an outlier performance in all three categories; but, hey, they did it once. Nothing is impossible in Miami.

 

Marlins Move to 2nd in East

Six games later, the Marlins took a 4-2 series lead on the Phillies in this 7-game series, moving to 23-21 on the year. This pushes the Marlins to 8-2 in double-header games and propels them into the 2nd place spot in the division. Regardless, they are currently in a good playoff spot with only 16 games remaining this season. 

Oh boy, the pitching

On Sunday, we took another good look at Sixto Sanchez and our first look at Braxton Garrett. Wow. Sixto pitched a 1-run complete game en route to a 1-run win. What continues to impress me is his ability to pitch to contact in stressful situations. 100 MPH plus craftiness is in most cases untouchable. Sixto looks more like the future of Miami Marlins baseball every time he steps on the mound. Sixto’s dominance may have overshadowed Braxton Garrett’s first start, although it shouldn’t have. Braxton (our 2016 first-round pick) went 5 innings, allowing only 1 earned run on 3 hits, striking out 6. I have repeatedly mentioned both the current strength of this rotation, as well as the future strength. This outing hopefully signifies another addition to what is shaping to be one of the best rotations in baseball.

Can’t lose when the pitching allows 1 run

The pitching gave the hitting a big cushion most of these two games, whereas normally the opposite happens. Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte’s RBI singles were enough to get the job done in game 1, but the bats broke it wide open in game 2. The whole squad put together nice at-bats, with the icing on the cake being Chad Wallach’s first homer of the year. 

Special shoutout to Brian Anderson for making a Manny Machado-Esque play at third base. Braxton Garrett’s reaction was priceless. 

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Secure the bag.

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Looking ahead for the Marlins

The Marlins are now 2nd in the division, but obviously this could be short-lived as the Marlins play the Phillies today again at 4:10 pm. Pablo Lopez (3-4, 4.50 ERA) takes the mound for the Marlins against Vince Velasquez (0-0, 5.85 ERA) of the Phillies.

Marlins Walkoff Win the Day After Meltdown

“Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back.” – Big Sean, The Marlins

After one of the most embarrassing defeats in baseball history in which the Atlanta Braves slaughtered (that’s probably the best word) the Fish 29-9, the Marlins picked up the pieces and won a close game at home versus Philadelphia. They fell down early and trailed 6-3 late into the game before a 3-run double by Starling Marte tied it up. Jorge Alfaro’s walk-off single in the 9th sealed the 7-6 comeback win. Grit. Determination. Culture. This team is showing their true colors.

Sandy was slightly sloppy but still good

Despite the 6 runs allowed, Sandy actually fought pretty well last night. Only 3 of those 6 were earned and he only walked 2 through 6 innings pitched. Alcantara will be one of the most important pieces the rest of the way, as him getting back to ace shape will push the Marlins to the finish line. Nick Vincent, Richard Bleier, and Yimi Garcia were brilliant in their 3 combined innings, not allowing any runs to keep the marlins in the game. Only 3 earned runs in nine innings feels a lot better than 27. 

Marlins bats are woke

I feel like the Marlins picked up on my constant mentioning of the statistic that said they hadn’t scored 4 or more runs in more than 3 games in a row all season. The streak is now at 7. Continually, we are seeing an increase in the level of quality at-bats the Marlins are putting together. Most notably, they worked deep into counts versus Jake Arrieta last night, forcing him out of the game relatively early in the 6th inning. Starling Marte continues to deliver, as his 3-run double tied the game in the 8th and gave the Marlins a chance to win.

6 more versus the Phils

This is the most important series of the Marlins season. It is as simple as that. Being only .5 GB of the Phillies for the 2nd place spot means that series win means more than ever. The Marlins and Phillies play in a doubleheader today. Game 1’s starters are Trevor Rogers (1-0, 3.00 ERA) and Aaron Nola (4-3, 2.74 ERA). Neither team has announced their game 2 starters.

 

Marlins Lose Close Battle with Rays

The Marlins started another series with the first-place Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Pablo Lopez took the mound for the Fish to start the series versus Josh Fleming of the Rays. The Rays ended up taking a 5-4 victory over the Marlins, upping their season record to 4-0 on the Marlins. The Fish now sit at 16-17, and the Rays up their record 27-12. 

Pitching

Pablo Lopez faltered after a solid start to the season, allowing 5 earned runs in 4 innings pitched capped off with a bases-clearing double off of the bat of Michael Perez. The bullpen remained strong and didn’t allow a single run over their combined 4 innings of work. The hitting couldn’t overcome the 5 runs scored by the Rays, which is a trend I’ve touched upon a lot for this team. The offense is so reliant on the defense that any misstep on the latter’s end leads to a loss.

Hitting

Granted, the offense almost pulled it off. Corey Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar hit solo home runs early on off of Fleming, and Jon Berti came up with a clutch 2-run double. The Marlins left 12 on base and struggled to put anything else on the board. The hitting needs to step up their game if the marlins want to sneak into the playoffs in the Wild Card spot. 

A Look at the NL East

Looking at the NL East, the Atlanta Braves are running away with the division. A 9-1 run by the Phillies has propelled them into a commanding 2nd place position. This means the Marlins are on pace for a Wild Card berth. Although this is obviously a reach, the Marlins are 2/2 on World Series wins, both of which they entered the playoffs as a Wild Card. 

A Look Ahead

Looking ahead, the Marlins play tonight versus the Rays. Sandy Alcantara will take the mound for the Marlins and Blake Snell will pitch for the Rays. Sandy looks to erase his sub-par start last week versus the Rays.

Marlins Lose 2-1, Split Series With Blue Jays

One mistake was enough to give Sixto Sanchez (1-1, 2.37) his first loss in the MLB. On a dominant night from Sixto, one hanging slider to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was enough to make the difference. The Blue Jays managed to hold on to their relatively early 2-0 lead off the Gurriel Jr. blast and win the game 2-1. The Marlins fell to 16-16 and the Blue Jays improved to 19-16 on the season. 

Positive Takes

The pitching remains stellar. Sixto had a lot of swagger on the mound and showed high levels of confidence for the young 22-year old that he is. He managed the game with a low pitch count and went 7 strong innings allowing only the 2 runs on the home run. Boxberger and Garcia pitched scoreless innings in the 8th and 9th, respectively. Marlins’ pitching continues to look extremely special with the combination of effective young arms in the starting rotation and the wily veterans in the bullpen. After almost every game (barring some of the games which the bullpen was working on low rest), Marlins’ pitching has been a positive post-game topic. At least they are consistent.

Negative Takes

Speaking of inconsistency, the Marlins’ lineup has continued to struggle. Adding Marte to the mix proved to be the difference on Tuesday, but as seen on Wednesday one guy cannot shift the momentum of 8 guys lacking. These hitting woes have been a consistent fixture on this team. Their ability to get back on track will be the driving factor in whether this Marlins team can continue their run. The hitting has been inconsistent all season, but there have been solid spurts mixed in. The Fish will look to have a 28 game “spurt” to finish off the season.

Looking Ahead

The Marlins have Thursday off. On Friday they head to the Trop to take on the Tampa Bay Rays, who they were just swept by a series ago. Pablo Lopez (3-2, 2.10) will take the mound on Friday versus Josh Fleming (2-0, 1.74).

Help the Bahamas donating at Marlins Park!

You can help our neighbors in the Bahamas donating at Marlins Park!

The Miami Marlins Foundation will donate all 50/50 Raffle proceeds – and match those funds raised – from the upcoming homestand to the relief efforts after Dorian did a lot of damage in the Bahamas.

In addition, fans attending games this homestand can help donating $1 at any Marlins Park concession and round up their purchases at the Marlins Park retail stores. Donations by fans will be matched by the Miami Marlins Foundation.

Needed items include water, canned goods, can openers, mosquito spray, sunscreen, diapers, baby formula, first aid items, flashlights, batteries, and small generators.

The Marlins thank partners Pepsi, Sedano’s Supermarkets, W.B. Mason, and Goya for their pledged donations to the Marlins organization’s efforts.

For more information on the Miami Marlins, please visit the team’s official sites, Marlins.com and MarlinsBeisbol.com.