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Positive Takeaways from Struggling Marlins

Yesterday’s contest between the Miami Marlins and New York Mets ended in quite the unorthodox way. With the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the 9th, the Mets threatened to win the game with the bases loaded and only one out. Michael Conforto stepped into the box against a struggling Anthony Bass, looking to give the Mets a win on their Home Opener. With 2 strikes, Conforto leaned into the pitch drawing, what looked to be, a game winning Hit By Pitch. The pitch, clearly a strike on the inner half of the plate, was ruled to be the end of the game by Home Umpire Ron Kulpa. 

 

As an enraged Don Mattingly and Marlins’ team-leader Miguel Rojas argued the blatantly incorrect call, the umpires walked off the field, unable to correct a “judgment” call. The Fish left the ballpark in defeat, officially starting the season at 1-6. The Mets, on the other hand, improved to 2-2, and still remain much better odds to compete in the National League East according to VW Sports Betting

 

It is easy to point towards that moment as the key factor in yesterday’s loss for the Marlins, but doing so overshadows the countless other missed opportunities throughout Thursday’s game for the Marlins. The Marlins “Why not us?” mentality that pushed them through last season looks to have evaporated in early 2021. But rather than dwelling on what could have been through the first week of the season, here are the positives that the “Bottom Feeders” can build on to find their way back to a winning mentality.

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Marlins Starting Pitching

Sandy Alcantara

Sandy Alcantara continues to be the ace that the Marlins need. In his 12 innings of work, he has allowed just 3 runs (2 ER) on 17 strikeouts, 6 hits, and 4 walks. He has been everything that the Marlins could ask for in his first two starts. With only a total of 2-runs of support from his offense in innings which he has pitched, Sandy has simply gotten the short end of the stick. He’s the guy. The Marlins haven’t had anything near this level of production since Jose Fernandez. 

 

Pablo Lopez

In an even better turn of events, Pablo Lopez has continued to surprise the baseball world. He has thrown 11.2 innings this season, only allowing 2-runs off the bat of a Yadier Molina home run. Pablo has been nothing short of brilliant in his outings this season, eliciting a 57.1% groundball rate, the highest of his career. He, much like Sandy, has gotten a grand total of 0 runs of support while he is on the mound.

 

Keeping it close

In the Marlins 6 losses to date, they have only lost by 4 or more runs one time (Wednesday’s 7-0 loss to STL). It is clear that the bats have not woken up yet; however, in a positive twist, when they do wake up, it could be enough to put the Marlins over the top. The Marlins played close baseball all of last season and won close ball games at a higher clip than most teams throughout the league. The bats are performing below expectations at the moment, preventing close games from going in the Marlins favor. It is a long season, and when the bats put the pieces together, things will change.

 

It’s a long season!

Did you know that in last season’s 60 games, there were not one but two sets of 7 games where the Marlins went 1-6? Even with a shorter amount of time, the Marlins managed to finish the season with a 31-29 record. Although a similar record may not make the playoffs this season, all the Marlins are looking to do is grow as a team. There is still plenty of time for the Marlins to go on 6-1 runs to even their record back to .500 and beyond. And there is still plenty of time for the Marlins to go on more 1-6 runs. 

 

In a 162 game season, expect we can expect this to happen multiple times. There is no need to panic. Statistically, this Marlins team is around that of a .500 ballclub. The law of large numbers is a mathematical/statistical fact, and one that will play in the Marlins favor going forward.

 

Overall for Marlins

 

To players, coaches, and fans, this start may feel like rock bottom especially in comparison to last season’s 7-1 start. But this start will not last for long, and the Marlins will find their way back to the team they truly are. They really are the “Bottom Feeders” right now, but as we all know, that hasn’t held them back before. 

 

Marlins/Mets Series Preview

After a disappointing 1-5 start to the season, the Miami Marlins start their first road trip of the year in New York versus the new look Mets. Throughout the first 6 games, the Marlins have been plagued by an inability to hit with RISP and with 2-outs: both key elements of last year’s playoff run. It will not get any easier in the Big Apple, as the Mets are lined up to pitch Taijuan Walker, Jacob deGrom, and Marcus Stroman. 

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Game 1 (Thursday 1:10 PM EST): Nick Neidert (0-0, / ERA) vs Taijuan Walker (0-0, / ERA)

Keys for Marlins: Neidert, Bats getting back on track

Neidert takes the mound for his first career start for the Marlins. After posting solid numbers throughout his career in the minors, Neidert hopes to continue a positive start for Marlins starting pitchers this season. Every starter, barring Elieser Hernandez’s injury-shortened outing, has been able to keep the bats they have faced at bay. There, however, has been nothing to show for it through 6 games. LoanDepot Park has not been a friendly sight for Marlins hitters, and weirdly enough, there is an expectation that pitchers will get more run support on the road this season. A 24-year-old Neidert is matched up against an extremely potent New York Mets lineup, which serves as a tough obstacle on start 1.

Keys for Mets: Walker having a Quality Start

His counterpart Taijuan Walker was 4-3 last season with a 2.70 ERA pitching for the Mariners and Blue Jays. Walker was injured throughout 2018 and 2019, but in seasons where he was healthy, has been a steady innings eater with a consistent ERA in the high 3s. Walker, although a solid arm, will be the lowest quality starter the Marlins will face in this series. It is important that the bats break out in this game to set the tone for games 2 and 3.

Game 2 (Saturday 1:10 PM EST): Trevor Rogers (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs Jacob deGrom (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Keys for Marlins: Rogers settling in, Late-inning magic

After a shaky first inning in which he allowed 3 runs on Monday versus the Cardinals, Trevor Rogers settled in to throw 3 shutout innings to finish his night. In those 3 innings, his fastball looked electric and he looked much more settled in. In his post game press conference, he mentioned that he was too “amped up.” With the first start with fans out of the way for Rogers, he is looking to continue to grow from his stellar Spring Training this season. The Mets offer another difficult lineup to navigate as a pitcher, but Rogers did just that last year. Two of his better starts came against the Mets last season, both of which resulted in Marlins’ wins. 

Keys for Mets: deGrom doing deGrom things

In his first start of the season, deGrom was stupendous (per usual). He will once again be rightfully in Cy Young talks as his game continues to get better with age. However, over the course of his career, he has struggled somewhat versus the Marlins. The Marlins got a win when he was on the mound last season, but with the bats continuing to struggle, the most likely hope for Miami this season lies in the late innings. Much like the Marlins’ starters, deGrom has had infamously low run support throughout his career. If Rogers can keep it close with deGrom, the Marlins can piece together a win, just like the Phillies did against the Mets on their Opening Day.

Game 3 (Sunday 1:10 PM EST): TBD vs Marcus Stroman (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

Keys for Marlins: Bullpen

Don Mattingly mentioned that the Marlins will most likely not start Sandy Alcantara on Sunday, even though technically it is his turn in the rotation. Whoever the Marlins go with, this will be a game decided on their bullpen. With a weak start in comparison to expectations this season, the Marlins’ new-look bullpen will have a chance to get back on track this game and series. With two young arms in Games 1 and 2 and the makings of a bullpen game in game 3, there will be plenty of chances for a bullpen to right the sinking ship in Miami.

Keys for Mets: Stroman

The Mets will counter with Marcus Stroman, a consistently solid starter over the course of his career. Stroman put together 6 masterful innings of 1-run ball in his first outing in route to a Mets win. The former Blue Jay has been the definition of consistent in his time in the MLB as he continues to bounce back after a poor 2018 season. Stroman has ace-quality stuff, and will bring his normal on Sunday.

Overall for Marlins

 

The Marlins starting pitching has been everything Marlins’ fans have asked for. Every other aspect of this team has dwindled in comparison. With an extremely tough task ahead in the Mets, the Marlins need their bats to break out (or at least play small ball in key situations) or they can easily be swept away by a good Mets team. This task becomes even harder when the Marlins aren’t expected to pitch Sandy or Pablo. 

This series is extremely important for the Marlins to bounce back before they head to Atlanta, where they have consistently struggled over the past few years. Sitting at 1-5, the Marlins could easily finish this series at 1-8 if the adequate changes are not made heading in. 

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Miami Marlins May Flop in Stacked NL East

The Philadelphia Phillies re-signed their two stars J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorious this past week. Not to be overdramatic, but this almost certainly feels like the nail in the coffin for the Miami Marlins in the upcoming 2021 season. They now find themselves in a division of 3 highly competitive teams: the Mets, Braves, and Phillies. Both the Phillies and Mets have historically underperformed in recent years, but with the Mets basically fielding an entire roster of new talent and the Phillies inching closer and closer to putting the puzzle pieces together, things are looking bleak in Miami.

 

Here’s my take on why the current NL East will prevent the Marlins from making the playoffs in back-to-back years:

 

Statistics

 

Ew. I know, I talk about the analytics a lot more than anyone would like to hear, but it is impossible to overlook them. All 4 other NL teams have either gotten better or remained the same. Last year, the Marlins overall (hitting, pitching, fielding, etc.) were statistically the worst in the division. An extremely small sample size allowed their underdog mentality to propel them forwards, but they will not have that luxury this year. With no key improvements to make any difference, we can expect a quick regression to their true mean: around 73-89.

 

Offense

 

The Marlins are simply outclassed by the rest of the division. We struggled to win 9 inning games last year because even in games where the pitching was lights out, our bats were flimsy at best. No changes made means similar issues in this season. In a division where you have to worry about Realmuto, Freeman, Acuna, Ozuna, Turner, etc., it is implausible to rely on young arms to carry you through a season. There will be close games that the Marlins pull out, but there will be a multitude of games where they are blown out.

 

Marlins Rebuild

 

Everything in Miami points to a rebuild. Kim Ng and Derek Jeter are taking last year with a grain of salt, and they are simply continuing on with the plan. The NL East has a “win now” mentality that the Marlins front office lacks. The lack of offseason moves points directly toward this. Sadly, after years of waiting for something as fruitful as the 2020 season was, Marlins fans may have to wait even longer for continued success.

 

Overall

 

At this point, all Marlins fans can do is sit back and trust in the process. After years of doing exactly that, there is expected agitation within the fanbase. Patience is key, though. The Fish may not have the talent ready now, but in a year or two we will begin to see a strong competitor emerge once again.

 

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Edwin Díaz: “Supe que me iba a Nueva York por las redes sociales”

Edwin Díaz se enteró de que le tocaba mudarse de costa en los Estados Unidos a través de las aplicaciones en su teléfono.

El nuevo cerrador de los Mets de Nueva York supo que tenía que mudarse a la Gran Manzana gracias al poder, alcance y velocidad de las redes sociales.

No hubo una llamada formal, ni un email, carta o mensaje de la oficina de los Marineros de Seattle, sino una notificación en su teléfono.

“Edwin Díaz ha sido cambiado junto al segunda base estrella Robinson Canó, a los Mets de Nueva York, por el jardinero Jay Bruce, los lanzadores Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista, y Justin Dunn, además del jardinero Jarred Kelenic.”

Eso fue lo que leyó Díaz, y así supo que le tocaba cruzar el país para jugar, e integrarse a una nueva edición de los metropolitanos, que busca competir en el Este de la Liga Nacional. “No sabía nada. Me enteré por la prensa”, afirmó el boricua.

Ricardo Montes de Oca tuvo la oportunidad de conversar con Díaz antes del comienzo de la serie de tres encuentros que disputarán ante Miami, y esto fue lo que le dijo sobre los cambios de regla que se avecinan con el pitcheo, y su cambio de ambiente, de Seattle a Nueva York.