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Marlins Marte

Marlins Pick Up Marte’s Option

MLB’s offseason officially began today as the 2020 World Series came to an end. The Los Angeles Dodgers took home the trophy in what was the strangest season in MLB history. The Marlins made some history along the way as well, making the postseason for the first time since 2003. The Marlins, meanwhile, started their offseason by picking up the $12.5 million team option on centerfielder Starling Marte.

Marte Back with Marlins for 2021

This news shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, considering the price the Marlins paid to acquire Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Miami sent starting pitchers Caleb Smith and Humberto Mejia, as well as a low-level minor league relief pitcher Julio Frias, to the DBacks for Marte’s services.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said the team always planned to bring back Marte. He was never considered a rental by the club.

“We moved some very talented players in our mind to get Marte,” Jeter said of the deal last week.

For the Marlins, Marte hit just .245, with a .286 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage. He tallied 13 RBI, six doubles, five steals and four home runs in 28 games played for Miami. He stabilized a centerfield that was in flux throughout the first half of the season. Marlins manager Don Mattingly rotated five different players in center prior to Marte’s arrival.

Marte had his Marlins cap make it to Cooperstown since he played 61 games in MLB’s 60-game season.

Unfortunately, Marte finished the season injured, after Chicago Cubs reliever Dan Winkler’s pitch broke Marte’s pinky. The injury forced him to miss the Marlins’ NLDS series with the Braves and his offense would have been useful. Miami scored just five runs in the three-game sweep.

Bringing back Marte adds a reliable veteran presence to the Marlins’ outfield and lineup. Although he struggled at times this season, a look at his career stats indicates he should be able to hit consistently. He’s athletic and speedy, making him a threat on the base paths and an excellent defender. At $12.5 million, the team option isn’t cheap, but if the 32-year-old Marte underperforms, the Marlins can move on next year.

This move makes Marte the highest paid players on the Marlins active roster for 2021, topping Corey Dickerson‘s $8.75 million. It’s the right choice for an up-and-coming club that needs reliable veterans to mentor the young players.

Beyond Marte, the Marlins also have to decide on Brandon Kintzler’s team option. The 36-year-old reliever locked down the closer position for Miami in 2020. He converted 12 of 14 save opportunities during the regular season and posted a 2.22 ERA over 24.1 innings pitched.

Kintzler’s option stands at $4 million and the team open to bringing him back for 2021.

More Marlins Moves to Come

With the World Series now complete, MLB’s free agency is set to begin on November 1st . The market will see additional names added after December 2nd non-tender deadline. Beyond that, the Winter Meetings loom, with the Rule 5 Draft set to happen on December 10th. The makeup of the 40-man roster, which needs to be addressed, must be finalized by November 20th.

The Marlins, though, may enter this stretch without a President of Baseball Operations. Michael Hill and the club could not come to an agreement to extend his contract. Hill’s departure opens a front office position, but the team is in no hurry to fill that spot.

“We have a lot of smart baseball minds in our organization and there’s smart baseball minds around the game. It takes some time to sit down and see what type of person we need in this particular role,” Jeter said last week.

MLB Network’s Craig Mish said New York Yankees vice president Tim Naehring and special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman Jim Hendry, who’s a former GM himself, are two potential possibilities to fill the vacancy. The Yankees connection between these clubs runs deep.

Mish mentioned Gary Denbo, the Marlins’ Director of Player Development and Scouting, is likely to stay in his current role. Meanwhile, Dan Greenlee, another former Yankees’ executive, earned a promotion to Assistant General Manager after spending time as Director of Player Personnel.

We’ll see where the Marlins go from here, but it’s clear that even with a new President of Baseball Operations in tow, all front office decisions will likely go through Jeter.

Mattingly

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.”

Marlins Braves NLDS

5 Keys to Marlins and Braves NLDS Series

The Miami Marlins stand among MLB’s final eight teams. The 2-0 sweep of the Chicago Cubs caught most baseball fans by surprise. It marked only the second postseason sweep in franchise history, but the Marlins were not among those astonished by the accomplishment. The Marlins expected to win, as they do against their NL East rival the Atlanta Braves, in the NLDS.

The juggernaut that is the Atlanta lineup presents a far more formidable challenge for the Fish, but there is a pathway for this unlikely Cinderella story to continue.

Here’s a look at five keys to the Marlins and Braves NLDS Series.

Frontline Starting Pitchers Need to Come Through

The Miami Marlins starting pitchers posted a 4.31 cumulative ERA in 2020. That was good for 14th in MLB, but it included 13 different pitchers. The Braves touched up Pablo Lopez, Game 2’s starter, for nine earned runs in 12.2 innings pitched (three starts). Sixto Sanchez made two starts versus Atlanta, surrendering four earned runs over nine innings pitched.

Sandy Alcantara, who has yet to lose against the Braves in his career, takes the hill for the Marlins in Game 1. In three career starts versus Atlanta, Alcantara has a 2.41 ERA without recording a decision. Braves hitters have posted a .230/.338/.279 slash line in 71 career plate appearances versus Alcantara.

The Marlins likely need two of these three pitchers to dominate their starts versus the Braves. The other options to start on the NLDS roster include unproven rookies Dan Castano, Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers.

The pitching staff in general posted a bloated 6.64 ERA versus Atlanta this season, but a closer look at that number shows 41 of the 64 earned runs came courtesy of pitchers who were not on the Wild Card roster. Subtract those pitchers, and the staff ERA drops to a far more manageable 4.00 against the Braves.

“We have to attack the strike zone,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve got good stuff. Don’t give them anything. Make them earn it. We have to go attack these guys.”

Leverage the Bullpen

Miami’s starters will need to go deep into games to prevent exposing the weaker portions of the team’s bullpen. The Marlins used a staggering 37 different pitchers this season, including 28 different relievers. Overall, the bullpen ERA finished at 5.50, fourth worst in the league. A closer look at that number reveals it as a flawed measure.

17 of those 28 relievers pitched less than eight innings out of the ‘pen but surrendered a whopping 65 earned runs over 59.2 innings combined. Hence, the inflated bullpen ERA. If you take the Marlins top-five relievers, you’ll see a group that posted a 2.00 ERA over 85.2 innings pitched. That would be the best mark in the league by far.

Brandon KintzlerYimi GarciaBrad BoxbergerJames Hoyt and Richard Bleier sport a mix of stuff and experience and should be able to save games if given the opportunity. As a group, those five are 13 for 18 in save opportunities. As a team this season, the Marlins are 31-0 when leading after six innings, so the bullpen has come through.

Mattingly will need to leverage these top-five arms to win this series. In the Wild Card round, the bullpen posted a scoreless 6.2 innings pitched in two games, allowing just two hits.

Watch Out with the Fastball

Marlins pitchers relied heavily on the fastball in their Wild Card sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Miami threw fastballs at a 75 percent clip against the Cubs, with an average speed of 95.8 mph. Chicago hitters struggled to turn on those offerings, hitting just .157 against Marlins’ fastballs.

Against the Braves, the Marlins staff may need another approach in the NLDS. Atlanta sports the best fastball-hitting lineup in the MLB these days. Braves batters posted a .311 average against fastballs in 2020, the highest such mark since the 2015 Royals hit .312. Atlanta’s slugging percentage remained a whopping .551 against fastballs.

The Reds tried to limit fastball use in the Wild Card round, throwing just 43 percent of their pitches as heat. The Marlins staff will need to locate their off-speed and secondary pitches well, and be selective with their fastballs, because Atlanta’s lineup is stocked with five regulars who hit well over .300 against the fastball.

Getting Runs Early

The Marlins offense did nothing through six innings in both Wild Card games. Thankfully, their starting pitchers kept those games in control, allowing a stirring comeback in Game 1 and a go-ahead homer in Game 2. The offense seemed to come alive late in both games.

Against the Braves, the Marlins will need more runs early in the ballgames. Atlanta gave up 24 runs over its final three games of the regular season, losing two of them, but they were dominant in their two-game sweep of the Reds in the Wild Card round. If the Marlins can chase Atlanta’s starters early, they set themselves up for success down the line in this series. With no off days, bullpen management will be key, and the Braves don’t have a solid fourth starter in their rotation.

What’s more, the Braves bullpen was one of the best in MLB in 2020. Atlanta’s bullpen posted a 3.50 ERA, which was fourth lowest in MLB and second lowest in the NL. Miami struggled to scratch runs across the Braves bullpen during their 10 matchups this season.

The Marlins will look to repeat their last outing against Atlanta’s ace Max Fried, when they connected on two home runs in the first inning. Those were the lonely two homers surrendered by Fried in 2020. Miami hitters have had some success against Fried, with a slash line of .333/.383/.593 in 60 plate appearances.

Jesus Aguilar went 15-for-40 with two blasts and eight RBIs against Atlanta during the regular season.

Make Up for Marte’s Loss

Starling Marte suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left pinkie in Game 1 of the wild-card series and sat out Game 2. He’s on the taxi squad for the NLDS, and will not make an appearance for the Marlins in this series.

Reserve outfielders Magneuris Sierra, Monte Harrison and Lewis Brinson each have excellent speed and are strong defenders but can’t hit like Marte. And that’s a problem for a club that batted .203 in the wild-card series.

For Marte’s replacements, getting on base and putting pressure on the defense will be key. The Marlins stole 53 bases in 2020, and they’ll need to manufacture runs with the feet in this NLDS series against the Braves.

 

Tuesday, Game 1: Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.00 ERA) at Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA), 2:08, FS1

Wednesday, Game 2: Pablo Lopez (6-4, 3.61 ERA) at Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95), 2:08, MLB Network

Thursday, Game 3: Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.21 ERA) at Sixto Sanchez (3-2, 3.46 ERA), 2:08, FS1

Marlins win

Miami Marlins Win Game 1 Over Cubs

The Miami Marlins crashed MLB’s postseason party in 2020. On Wednesday, the franchise played its first playoff game in 17 years. The Marlins rallied around a dominant pitching performance from Sandy Alcantara to win Game 1 over the favored Chicago Cubs, 5-1.

It wasn’t just Alcantara leading the way, though. Key veterans provided the offensive lift late in the game, and veteran additions to the bullpen closed the door for the Marlins.

The Marlins entered the playoffs with nothing short of the most historical turnaround in MLB history. No team in the long life of the sport has ever emerged from the depths of a 105-loss season to qualify for the playoffs a year later. And the key to that emergence has been not only the development of young talent, but also the production from veterans acquired for just this purpose.

Two of those additions, Corey Dickerson and Jesús Aguilar, provided the dramatic lift Miami’s dormant offense needed against the Cubs.

Veteran Additions Lead the Way

Chicago’s starter Kyle Hendricks dominated the Fish through six, surrendering just one hit in that span. But Hendricks’ control was uncharacteristically off, as the starter who’d issued just eight walks in 2020 gave up three free passes and a hit-by-pitch.

In the seventh, the Marlins offense finally broke through. Back-to-back singles by Miguel Rojas and Chad Wallach preceded a game-changing three-run home run by Dickerson.

“[Hendricks] was tough,” Dickerson said via Zoom postgame. “He was hitting his spots. Very tough at-bats. It was about getting a good pitch, and don’t miss it. Early on, I was thinking too much, trying to get the right pitch. It was about seeing it over the plate, get my timing right and letting it go. I got a good pitch to hit.”

From there, Cubs manager David Ross went to the bullpen, summoning closer Jeremy Jeffress. What followed was a sharp single from Starling Marte and a two-run home run by Aguilar. That quickly, the Marlins went from down 1-0 with a punchless offense, to up 5-1 and in full control.

“That inning was a great inning for us, especially with Corey’s homer,” Aguilar said postgame. “It was like, ‘We could do it.’ We just tried to do our job, and stay aggressive. We’re here. I think we have the right pieces. We’ve got the right guys. Now let’s see what happens.”

Don Mattingly, managing his first game in the postseason for the Marlins after becoming the club’s all-time leader in wins earlier this season, lauded the additions of Dickerson and Aguilar postgame.

“Corey was one of the guys that we went after,” Mattingly said. “He’s always hit. He’s always been a guy that seems to hit good pitching. It was good for him. His first postseason, and he hits a homer. He was excited, and then [Aguilar] is another guy that’s hit. Good year a couple of years ago, struggled last year. We were hoping for the bounce back, and we got it. Both of those guys bring a ton to the club.”

Pitching Key to Marlins Win

Veteran additions to the bullpen also helped in this one.

Richard Bleier entered in the sixth and retired Ian Happ with on pitch to end the inning. The eighth belong to Yimi Garcia, and he knifed through three Cubs hitters, registering two strikeouts. In the ninth, closer Brandon Kintzler shut the door and helped the Marlins win their first playoff game in 17 years.

Alcantara’s efforts in this one signal a bright future for the Marlins. The 25-year-old starter went 6.2 innings and surrendered just three hits, one being a home run to Ian Happ that just barely escaped Wrigley Field.

After the game, Alcantara said it wasn’t one of his “best days.” He did walk three and struck out only four. He relied mostly on his fastball and struggled to spot his off-speed pitches consistently.

“We’ve seen him even better than that,” Mattingly said of Alcantara. “He didn’t really get his changeup going today. I’m not complaining with Sandy. You know that he has more there.”

Alcantara admitted he “didn’t have his best stuff” but he managed to throw enough strikes. He also induced six ground ball outs, which is key against the Cubs lineup.

Marlins Win, But Lose Marte in the Process

The one sour note from an otherwise excellent Marlins win was the potential loss of Marte. In the ninth innings, Cubs reliever Dan Winkler caught Marte on his left hand, leading to a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal.

Marte’s been hit four times since joining the Marlins, including a scary moment just prior to the postseason when a pitch came up and in and clipped the brim of his batting helmet.

The Marlins haven’t officially announced Marte as out, listing him still as day-to-day. There seems to be a chance that he could return to the lineup soon and would do so with a considerable wrap of his injured pinkie finger.

If Marte does miss time, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Magneuris Sierra are all options for Mattingly in centerfield.

For Game 2, the Marlins give the ball to rookie right-hander Sixto Sánchez (3-2, 3.46) against Cubs ace You Darvish (8-3, 2.01).

Check out the Five Reasons Sports Marlins postgame show below:

Marlins playoffs

5 Keys for Marlins in Playoffs Wild Card Round

The Miami Marlins are back in the playoffs for the first time in 17 years when their Wild Card series begins versus the Chicago Cubs. Although the Cubs are favored and expected to win, the Marlins have the makeup to not only make this an interesting series, but to win the three-game set and advance.

The Marlins enter the postseason with a 31-29 record, the franchise’s first winning season since 2009. They finished second in the NL East but sported a polarizing minus-41 run differential through 60 games.

The Cubs, meanwhile, lead the NL Central almost wire-to-wire, despite it being a division with three other playoff teams. Chicago finished with a 34-26 record and a plus-25 run differential, but they sputtered to end the season. The Cubs were 4-6 over their last 10 with a minus-6 run differential.

These two teams are evenly matched and sport similar strengths. Here’s a look at five keys for the Marlins this Wild Card series in the playoffs.

Marlins Playoffs: Getting Ground Ball Outs

Yesterday, the Marlins announced their starting rotation for the three-game series in the playoffs. Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 39 K) will start Game 1. Sixto Sanchez (3-2, 3.46 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 33 K) will take Game 2. Pablo Lopez (6-4, 3.61 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 59 K) gets Game 3 if there is one.

Marlins playoffs

The Miami Marlins starting rotation for the Wild Card round of the playoffs. (Photo Credit: Miami Marlins/Twitter.com)

Starting pitching remains the Marlins’ strength this season. While the team’s overall ERA stands at 4.86 (21st in MLB), if you take the collective ERA of the 15 pitchers who threw the most innings this season, that number drops to 4.23, which would be 12th in MLB.

Marlins starters square off against an inconsistent Chicago offense. Although the names are well-known, the Cubs lineup has posted just a .220 batting average (27th) and scored 265 runs (20th). They have a strikeout-rate of 25.7 percent, which is 14th in the league, and a chase-rate of 27.5 percent (16th). Their 568 strikeouts were fifth-most in the NL.

The Cubs lineup lacked the consistency seen in years past, but it’s loaded in experience. They relied a great deal on the long ball, connecting on 74 home runs, including 30 at home.

Marlins starting pitchers need to limit walks and keep the ball within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field if they want to be successful in these playoffs. Alcantara sports a 50.4 percent ground-ball rate, and that’s the lowest rate of Miami’s three starters. Sanchez’s ground-ball rate is 58 percent and Lopez’s is 52.8.

Getting those ground ball outs will be key for Marlins pitchers this series.

Leveraging the Bullpen

The Marlins used a staggering 37 different pitchers this season, including 28 different relievers. Overall, the bullpen ERA finished at 5.50, fourth worst in the league. A closer look at that number reveals it as a flawed measure.

17 of those 28 relievers pitched less than eight innings out of the ‘pen but surrendered a whopping 65 earned runs over 59.2 innings combined. Hence, the inflated bullpen ERA. If you take the Marlins top-five relievers, you’ll see a group that posted a 2.00 ERA over 85.2 innings pitched. That would be the best mark in the league by far.

Brandon Kintzler, Yimi Garcia, Brad Boxberger, James Hoyt and Richard Bleier sport a mix of stuff and experience and should be able to save games if given the opportunity. As a group, those five are 13 for 18 in save opportunities. As a team this season, the Marlins are 29-0 when leading after six innings, so the bullpen has come through.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly will need to leverage these top-five arms to win this series.

Marlins Playoffs: Finding the Offense

One of the frustrations for the Marlins this season has been an inconsistency on offense. The Marlins score 4.38 runs-per-game (21st in MLB). The offense overall is middle-of-the-pack in batting average (.244; 17th) and OPS-plus (92; 19th). However, Miami has been shut out a league-high seven times.

Miguel Rojas (.304/.392/.496) and Jesus Aguilar (.277/.352/.457) have been the two best hitters in the lineup. Brian Anderson has also consistently got on base and has hit the ball well with a .810 OPS.

As a team, the offense did its best work with two-outs. Their .251 average with two-outs is fifth-best in the NL and their 122 runs scored with two-outs are sixth-best in MLB. With runners-in-scoring-position and two-outs, their .256 average is sixth-best in the league, and their 90 RBI are fifth-most.

The Marlins have a limited history with Chicago’s Game 1 and Game 2 starters.

Versus Kyle Hendricks, Starling Marte sports the most experience with 26 at-bats and six hits. Corey Dickerson is 4-for-16. Rojas, Anderson and Lewis Brinson are a combined 5-for-34. Jorge Alfaro has had some success, going 3-for-7.

Versus Yu Darvish, Marte and Dickerson are a combined 9-for-24 with three doubles and two home runs. Rojas, Anderson and Brinson are 2-for-14. Chad Wallach is 1-for-4 with a home run versus Darvish.

The Marlins offense will need to find some level of consistency to be successful during these playoffs. They’ve struggled versus soft-tossers like Hendricks, but the key will be getting on base.

Keeping the Running Game Going

The Marlins playoffs success will certainly hinge upon not only getting on base, but also putting pressure on Chicago’s defense once they do so. Miami sports a great deal of speed throughout the roster and regular lineup.

In 2020, the Marlins stole 51 bases over 60 games, which was the second-highest total in MLB. The team even stole home three times this season. This approach is a philosophical change for the Fish, considering the 2019 club stole just 55 bags in 162 games.

With Marte, Rojas and Jon Berti, the Marlins deploy speed that could be effective versus a soft-tossing pitcher like Hendricks. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras threw out nine of 26 runners this season, but the Marlins can be selective with their moves. In addition to the regular starters, Mattingly can also inject speed with Brinson, Monte Harrison and Magneuris Sierra as potential base-stealers late in games.

Putting the pressure on the Cubs defense will force Chicago to execute and could lead to the Marlins scratching out an extra run or two. And runs will be at a premium in this playoffs series.

Defense Wins Championships

The Marlins defense features a number of athletic, rangy players that catch the ball well. Miami sports plus-defenders across a number of positions, including Anderson at third base, Rojas at short and Marte in center.

As a whole, the Marlins registered a .980 fielding percentage this season with 40 errors (seventh-most). While those numbers aren’t great, the turnover in the roster led to some of these defensive issues.

Marlins pitchers induced 55 double plays this season, which was second-most in MLB. Marlins relievers lead the league with 32 double plays.

One interesting choice Mattingly will have to make will be who starts at catcher. Alfaro produces more offensively, and can control Chicago’s running game, but Wallach is the better defensive receiver. Wallach seems to have developed a positive chemistry with Lopez and Alcantara of late. That chemistry could be key.

In recent years, World Series champions have sported more defensive-minded players behind the plate to great success.

Marlins Playoffs: Prediction

The Marlins have a tall task ahead of them, but if Alcantara can help them win Game 1, the Marlins should be able to win this playoff series in three games. The opportunistic offense will need to come through, but, as they have all year, this Marlins group is resilient and believes in itself.

Alcantara said during Spring Training, “We’re going to surprise people.” And that could very well continue for the Marlins in these playoffs.

Marlins postseason

Wild Numbers from Marlins Postseason Push

The Miami Marlins clinched their first postseason berth since 2003 last night. Their 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees, coupled with Philadelphia’s 6-4 loss to the Rays, punched the Marlins’ ticket. In a 60-game rollercoaster of a season, the Marlins strapped in and produced some of the most incredible numbers in the sport.

 

Baseball is a game of numbers. Books have been written and movies have been made about them. Organizations sport robust analytics departments dedicated to digging through and pulling meaning from the numbers.

Here’s a look at some of the wild numbers from the Marlins postseason push.

16

It’s been 16 seasons since the last Miami Marlins team made the postseason. With Friday night’s win, the Marlins punched their playoff ticket for the first time since 2003 and for just the third time in franchise history. The other two times, the Marlins entered the postseason as a Wild Card and went on to win the World Series. In 2020, they finished second in the NL East, as they did in 1997 and 2003.

16 was also the jersey number of Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez, who passed away four years ago yesterday. Fernandez’s infectious spirit during his playing days brought joy to so many, and his loss changed the course of this franchise. Marlins manager Don Mattingly admitted the day as an emotional one, prior to the game. Mattingly said his wife sent him a picture of him and Jose, and also revealed he’s worn a bracelet with the #16 on it ever since. Mattingly also adjusted his workouts routines to be 16 reps instead of 15.

“It would be something that would be special,” Mattingly said pregame of clinching a playoff spot on the day Jose passed. And that’s exactly what this club did.

21

The Marlins have used 21 rookies this season during their improbably playoff run. This youth movement helped Miami navigate the tough times in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak to start the season. These players injected energy and life into the club and helped the Marlins rally from the difficult situation to start.

Of the 21 rookies, 18 of them made their MLB debuts. The 18 debuts came within the team’s first 44 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, entering 2020, no team in Major League history had as many debuts over a team’s first 60 games.

23

The Marlins started the 2020 season by packing for a five-day trip. The road trip should have taken the team from Atlanta to Philadelphia, then home for their season opener. Unfortunately, that five-day sojourn morphed into a 23-day odyssey.

The COVID-19 outbreak quarantined the club in Philadelphia for more than a week and more than half of the roster needed to be supplemented with moves. 18 players were placed on the injured list, and when the team resumed play in Baltimore, more than half of the Opening Day roster had been turned over.

Only five players have been on the active roster the entire season: Jesús Aguilar, Brian Anderson, Brad Boxberger, Brandon Kintzler and Pablo López.

46.5

The Marlins seem to do their best work in the clutch. Entering the weekend, the club has scored 46.5 percent of their runs with two outs this season, the highest such percentage in MLB.

Before Friday’s game, the Marlins entered batting .249 (151-for-607) this season with two outs, seventh-highest mark in the Majors and fifth in the NL. Miami’s .343 OBP with two outs is fifth best in the Majors in 2020. These clutch hits buoyed the Marlins postseason push throughout the season.

50

The Marlins have stolen 50 bases this season, second most in the Majors behind only San Diego (52). Have been caught just once in their last 20 stolen base attempts. Miami stole 55 bases in all of 2019, good for 23rd overall. The Marlins have led the Majors in stolen bases three times previously: 2000 (168), 2002 (177) and 2003 (150).

Jonathan Villar had nine steals with the Marlins, and Jon Berti has eight this season. Monte Harrison has six. No other player has more than five, but 13 different Marlins have stolen at least one bag.

The Marlins stolen home three times this season. MLB’s other 29 teams have done it a total of once.

61

The Marlins have used 61 players this season. The team has made 175 roster moves. Of the 61 players to don a Marlins uniform during this postseason push, 37 have been pitchers, including 28 different relievers and 13 different starting pitchers.

The Marlins started nine different pitchers in their first nine games this season, setting a new MLB record in that regard. And 52 of the team’s 59 games have been started by pitchers 25-years-old or younger.

105

In 2019, the Marlins went 57-105. The sported the worst record in the National League and were among the worst teams in all of baseball. Injuries and ineffective play littered the season, but in 2020, everything changed. With this postseason berth, the Marlins become just the second team in MLB history to go from 100-plus losses in the previous year to the playoffs. The 2019 Marlins are the worst team by record to ever clinch a playoff spot the following season.

The Marlins had a less than one percent chance to make the playoffs, and most baseball pundits picked the Marlins to finish last in the NL East. The team was called “bottom feeders” by some and rallied around that label, making it a motto.

“It’s pushed us,” Lewis Brinson said Saturday morning. “We knew going into Spring Training that no one believed in us.”

Some other Marlins Postseason Numbers

  • The Marlins have 58 home runs in 58 games in 2020, averaging a homer every 32.12 ABs. It’s the team’s second-highest such mark in the last 12 years, behind 2017 (28.88).
  • The Marlins are 19-13 (.613) on the road this season, the third-best road winning percentage in the Majors and the third-most road wins in behind the Dodgers (22) and Rays (20). The Marlins had a 27-54 (.333) road record in 2019, and have secured a winning road record for the first time since 2009 (44-37, .543).
  • Due to makeup games, the Marlins will play 34 road games in 2020 – 57% of their scheduled contests.
  • The Marlins are 11-8 (.579) in one-run games this season. That’s tied with Milwaukee for most one-run wins among NL teams in 2020. Miami had 9 one-run wins in all of 2019.
  • The Marlins have been able to come out victorious when they have the lead late in games, going 27-0 in contests in which they are up on their opponents entering the sixth inning. According to Elias, only one team – Atlanta at 27-0 – has as many such wins without a loss in 2020.

These numbers come courtesy of the Miami Marlins and MLB.com.

Marlins Yankees

Marlins Make Playoffs With Win Over Yankees

The Miami Marlins defeated the New York Yankees 4-3 in 10 innings on Friday night. The win, coupled with a 6-4 loss by the Philadelphia Phillies, put the Marlins in the postseason for the first time since 2003.

It took an ace-level performance from Sandy Alcantara, a clutch pitch from Brandon Kintzler and timely defense.

Prior to the Yankees series, Alcantara sounded very confident. “They got to fight me a lot,” he said of the potent New York lineup.

“I just want to be the guy,” Alcantara said. He wants to go as deep as he can in every game, establish consistency and attack the hitters. Each of those were evident in his start on Friday.

Alcantara went 7.1 innings, surrendering six hits, two walks and two earned runs, while striking out nine. He struck out former Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton three times. He induced three double plays throughout the game, helping minimize many of the Yankee threas.

 

Alcantara’s ace performance lifted the Marlins, who had lost four of five entering Friday. Alcantara was visibly frustrated in the dugout after getting pulled from the game with one out in the eighth. He admitted afterwards that he’d hoped to finish the game, but he respected manager Don Mattingly’s decision to go to the bullpen.

Marlins Bullpen Helps Secure Win Over Yankees

The Marlins bullpen needed to secure five outs, and although Yimi Garcia allowed a game-tying single in the eighth, they held on when needed. Brad Boxberger walked Stanton before getting Luke Voit in ground into a double play.

Marlins closer Brandon Kintzler came on in the 10th for a save opportunity, one night after his first career six-out save. Kintzler worked into trouble, ultimately loading the bases with one out. But facing DJ LeMahieu, one of the league’s best hitters, Kintzler induced a game-ending double play.

Despite LeMahieu being a great hitter, Kintzler knew he could get one of the best hitters in the league to put the ball on the ground.

“He did exactly what I wanted him to do, exactly what I planned, exactly what I had seen him do before,” Kintzler said. “The guy’s a great hitter, but that’s just for me a great situation.”

 

While the story of the night was pitching, the Marlins offense did just enough to secure the victory. Former Yankee Garrett Cooper put the Marlins ahead early with his three-run home run in the first inning.

From there, it was a struggle. The Marlins managed only three hits for the night and were 1-of-8 with runners-in-scoring-position, ultimately stranding seven on base. Jesus Aguilar, who’d flies out with the bases loaded in the second and stranded runners and the corners in the seventh, came through with a clutch sacrifice fly in the 10th to give Miami the lead.

Monte Harrison scored the go-ahead run but did so after scrambling back to third base on a botched run-down by the Yankees. All told, New York committed four fielding errors, including a crucial one in extras.

The resilience of the Marlins club was on display through the night, as it has been throughout the season. The win over the Yankees propels the Marlins to the playoffs for the first time since 2003, snapping the second-longest postseason drought in MLB (16 seasons).

The Marlins Maintain Playoff Hopes With Win

With the season on the brink, amid pouring rain in Atlanta, GA, the Miami Marlins turned to Pablo Lopez. After much heralded pitching prospects Trevor Rogers and Sixto Sanchez failed to get the Marlins back on track, the 24-year-old veteran in his third season settled the Marlins on the mound and gave the team the opportunity to stop the skid and maintain their hold on a playoff spot. The Marlins managed a 4-2 victory over the Braves in what was the latest most important game of the topsy-turvy 2020 season.

Lopez went five innings and surrendered only two hits while piling up six strikeouts, including the 200th of his MLB career.

“Obviously, every game is important in a short season like this one,” López said. “We knew coming into today that this is the biggest game yet. We’ve seen the Braves the last three days. Obviously, it’s a tough matchup.”

The Marlins entered Thursday night’s matchup losers of four straight and watched their lead in the playoff race dwindle to 0.5 games. With the Phillies nipping at their heels, Miami turned to Lopez, who’s been one of the few constants this season, and he turned in one of the biggest performances of the season.

But he wasn’t alone. The offense, which has sputtered of late and has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout the season, found just enough of a rhythm. The bullpen also turned in a critical performance.

The Marlins Offense Came Through in the Clutch

In the sixth inning, tied at zero, the Marlins offense went to work. Brian Anderson reached on an error, then Garrett Cooper singled, moving Anderson to third. A pair of strikeouts followed and the Marlins seemed like the same old story of lackluster offense would hold true in this spot. But backup catcher Chad Wallach came through.

Wallach, starting thanks to his recent chemistry with Lopez on the mound, punched an 2-0 offering from Ian Anderson into right field. That scored Anderson and moved Cooper to third.

Jon Berti came to the plate and continued Miami’s two-out magic by ripping a two-run double to left. The Marlins held a 3-0 lead entering the top of the sixth.

The Bullpen Held On

Marlins manager Don Mattingly turned to Yimi Garcia earlier than usual when he summoned the right-hander from the ‘pen in the sixth. Garcia walked Marcell Ozuna, but proceeded to get Travis d’Araud to line out, then registered a pair of strikeouts of Ozzie Albies and Adam Duvall.

In the seventh inning, Jesus Aguilar extended the Marlins lead with a home run off AJ Minter. It was Aguilar’s eighth homer of the season.

James Hoyt and Richard Bleier combined work through a tense seventh before Marlins closer Brandon Kintzler entered in the eighth to attempt a six-out save. Brad Boxberger had loaded the bases without recording an out, and although Kintzler surrendered a pair of runs on a Dansby Swanson single, he limited the damage to two.

“He comes in a tough spot,” Mattingly said of Kintzler after the game. “I’d trade outs for runs at that point. Obviously, a great job getting us through there, and he had to go through their top of the order in the ninth.”

Kintzler notched his first career six-out save and the 60th save of his career with the Marlins win.

“That was a really big win,” Wallach said afterwards. “We’ve been doing that all year. When we’ve gotten down and may have lost a couple of games, we’ve battled back when we’ve needed to. We played a great game, and that’s just something we’ve done all year. Hopefully, we can continue it going on.”

Playoffs on the Line in New York

The Marlins (29-28) head to New York for a crucial three-game series against the Yankees. Miami holds a slim one-game lead over the Phillies (28-29) for second place in the NL East and a guaranteed playoff spot. The Phillies are in St Petersburg to face the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend. The Marlins hold the tiebreaker over Philadelphia and their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to two.

The Marlins have Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12 ERA) taking the mound against the Yankees in an effort to possibly clinch their first postseason berth since 2003.

Marlins series Phillies

5 Takeaways from Marlins Series Win Over Phillies

The Miami Marlins put MLB on notice this weekend. Long considered also-rans, door mats and ‘bottom-feeders’, the Marlins continue to buck those traditional epithets in lieu of a different one: playoff contenders. The evidence has never been more obvious, and the Marlins 7-game series win over the Phillies now stands as Exhibit A.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins series win over the Phillies.

Sixto’s an Ace in the making

The start to Sixto Sanchez’s career continues to turn heads in baseball. In five starts, Sanchez has posted a 3-1 record with a 1.69 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 29 strikeouts over 32 innings pitched. He worked six innings against Atlanta allowing three hits, no runs and striking out six for his

second career win. He followed that with a complete game effort allowing one run on three hits while striking out four.

Sanchez has the second most strikeouts (29) for a pitcher in his first five MLB games, all starts, with an ERA less than 2.00. RHP Steve Busby of the 1972 Kansas City Royals had the most (31). Even Sixto’s idol, Pedro Martinez, has come away impressed.

 

Sanchez split the 2019 season between Single-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, going 8-6 with a 2.76 ERA and striking out 103 batters while walking only 21. He went undefeated in his final eight starts of the year, posting a 0.95 ERA over the stretch.

So far this season, he’s stabilized the Marlins rotation at a time it was teetering. His performances continue to show that the Marlins have a future ace on their hands.

Bounce Back from Lopez Key for Marlins in Series Win Over Phillies

Against the Phillies on Monday, Pablo López found his early season form. After a pair of starts where Lopez struggled mightily, the 24-year-old RHP settled in and provided the Marlins with a huge bounce-back performance.

In his previous two starts, Lopez surrendered a combined 12 earned runs over 5.2 innings pitched against Tampa Bay and Atlanta. He struggled to find the strike zone consistently and gave up too many hard hits. Against Philadelphia, though, Lopez regained his ace-like form.

Lopez tossed seven innings, allowing just one earned run on Andrew McCutchen’s homer in the first. He was able to throw his curveball for strikes consistently, then paired his changeup with his 4- and 2-seam fastballs to great success.

“Biggest thing for me, I was more in sync and trying to stay on top of the ball more frequently,” Lopez said after the game. He found a rhythm with catcher Chad Wallach, which also seemed to help.

Lopez finding his early season form means the Marlins have three high-end starters in their rotation, a must for any playoff team.

Marte May Be Most Important Midseason Pick-up

The deal to bring in Starling Marte may ultimately become one of the most important mid-season acquistions in Marlins history. The team has a storied history of adding difference makers, but in recent years, that hasn’t been the case. Initially, Marte’s performance left some concerned. He hit just .200 through his first eight games. But since, he’s embarked on a torrid stretch.

Versus the Phillies, Marte posted a .400 batting average. He went 10-for-25 with seven RBI, six runs scored, four doubles and a home run. He’s repeated come through in the clutch for the Marlins, with most of his RBI either tying the score or giving the team a lead.

Over the years, the Marlins have added big talents midseason, like Gary Sheffield in 1993, Darren Daulton in 1997 and Jeff Conine in 2003. Ugueth Urbina also came in 2003. Paul Lo Duca and Juan Encarnacion both came midseason in 2004.

Marte’s addition could be among the most important in franchise history if he helps lead the team into the postseason and more.

Veteran Bats Coming Alive During Marlins Series Win Over Phillies

One of the biggest concerns for the Marlins as the starting pitching has rounded into form was the lack of offensive punch. Miami acquired Marte to provide a boost to the lineup, and he’s largely done that of late. But what was also clear during the Marlins series win over the Phillies was the veteran bats coming alive as well.

Miguel Rojas owns Philadelphia this season. In nine games against the Phillies, Rojas went 14-for-26 (.538) with eight RBI, eight runs scored, three doubles and two home runs. His ability to consistently provide a lift for the Marlins offense helped spur the team’s series win over the Phillies.

This homestand has also seen Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson make meaningful strides at the plate. Aguilar, who went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI on Monday, sees his batting average up to .375 over his last nine games. Over that span, he tallied eight runs scored, seven RBI, five doubles, five walks and a home run.

Anderson, meanwhile, is hitting .481 (13-for-27) over the last 10 games. He driven in seven runs and the Marlins have won seven of those 10 games.

Marlins: Legitimate Playoff Contenders

The Miami Marlins series win over the Philadelphia Phillies vaulted them into second place in the NL East. That’s a guaranteed playoff spot in 2020. The 7-3 stretch over their last 10 has positioned the Marlins to make a playoff push. The team is playing meaningful baseball in September for the first time in a long time.

The Marlins have all the makings of a successful playoff team: elite starting pitching, solid backend of the bullpen, and timely offense. This season Miami’s batting .264 (129-for-488) this season with two outs, the fourth-highest mark in the Majors and second in the National League behind San Diego (.267). The Marlins’ .360 OBP with two outs is the best in the Majors in 2020. The team has stolen 21 of their 38 bases with two outs. They’ve scored 45.8 percent of their runs this season with two outs (93-of-203), the highest such percentage in the Majors.

“I kind of hope people are giving us more credit because we do have a good team. You kind of get labeled & branded something because of the past. It’s not the same team, not the same organization,” Matt Joyce said after the game yesterday.

 

The Marlins are looking to end MLB’s second-longest playoff drought this season, and if they get in, they will compete and be a hard out for any team.