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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 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.

Marlins Phillies

5 Keys to the Marlins, Phillies Series

The Miami Marlins need to shrug off last night’s historic drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. And they need to do that quickly, because the Marlins return to Miami to face the waiting Philadelphia Phillies for seven games in five days.

The Marlins’ playoff push stands a stout test in the second-place Phillies. At 19-19, Miami enters with an opportunity to not only solidify its playoff position, but also overtake Philadelphia in the standings.

The Marlins are 5-5 over their last ten games. Philadelphia’s play has improved of late, as they’ve rattled off 12 wins in their last 16 games to vault up the standings, passing the Marlins in the process.

Marlins, Phillies Start Seven-Game Series

The Marlins and Phillies are playing a seven-game series thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak that affected the club back in July. MLB scrambled to rearrange the schedule and settled on this 7-game series (a first in Marlins history) which includes a pair of doubleheaders.

The Phillies will start veteran RHP Jake Arrieta (3-4, 5.67 ERA) on Thursday. Arrieta marks the ninth former Cy Young Award winner to start against the Marlins this season. Miami is 3-5 in those starts, including recent wins against Jacob deGrom and Blake Snell.

But Arrieta has had success in Marlins Park before, going 6-1 in seven career starts with a 3.40 ERA. In his career against the Marlins, Arrieta holds a 8-1 record with a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts.

This season, the Marlins are 2-1 against the Phillies. On Opening Day, RHP Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 3.78 ERA) beat the Phillies 5-2. He allowed three hits, two walks and two runs while striking out seven over 6.2 innings. Alcantara landed on the IL shortly thereafter, but he regained his rhythm in his last start. Against Tampa Bay, Alcantara went six innings and allowing just three hits and one run while striking out eight.

Keys to the Marlins, Phillies Series

The Starters

The Marlins enter this crucial seven games in five days stretch with one of their top pitchers on the mound. In five career starts against the Phillies, Alcantara has been really good, posting a 4-1 record with a 2.51 ERA.

As a staff, Miami’s starters have a 4.11 ERA this season, 11th-best in MLB. They were top-10 in ERA prior to Pablo Lopez‘s struggles last night. Former Philly farmhand Sixto Sánchez has allowed his opponent to score in just three of his 25.0 innings this season. He’s struck out 25 batters combined over his first four starts.

In Marlins franchise history, only Dontrelle Willis (26) has fanned more batters through his first four career starts. That said, Trevor Rogers has 21 strikeouts through his first three starts, so we’ll see.

Phillies starters have posted a 4.01 ERA overall. But if take out Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, the other starters (Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez) have a combined 5.34 ERA.

The Bullpen

Where the Marlins have a clear advantage is the bullpen. Prior to last night’s game, Miami had a 4.29 bullpen ERA, which was 13th-best in baseball. After Jordan Yamamoto’s implosion, though, the ERA sits at 5.27 (26th). All told, Marlins relievers coughed up 22 runs (20 earned) in last night’s debacle.

Even so, it’s the Phillies who sport MLB’s worst bullpen this season with a 7.24 ERA. Despite making a number of trades for bullpen arms at the deadline, Philadelphia still struggles in that department.

If the Marlins can post runs against Philly starters, they’ll be in great shape. And comebacks are certainly possible against Philadelphia relievers.

Finding Some Offense at Marlins Park

Miami holds a 17-10 record on the road this season, but they’ve struggled to win at home (2-9). The Phillies are 6-8 on the road this year. For the Marlins, they’ll need to find a way to put up five runs. The team is 11-2 this season when scoring at least five runs.

Miami hits just .234 at home, with a .288 on-base percentage and a .622 OPS. Not great. Jesus Aguilar has reached base safely in 9-of-10 career games at Marlins Park, going 10-for-40 (.250) with five walks, and there are several Marlins players who have performed historically well against Philadelphia.

The Phillies have hit .249 on the road, with a .288 on-base percentage and a .659 OPS. While Rhys Hoskins has been the offensive engine of late, Bryce Harper has struggled. In his last 15 games, Harper is batting .143 and slugging .163 with no homers and a .502 OPS.

Clutch Two-Out Rallies

The Marlins are batting .268 (114-for-426) this season with two outs, the fourth-highest mark in the Majors and second in the NL behind the Padres (.269).

Miami’s .366 on-base percentage with two outs is tops in the Majors in 2020. The Marlins have scored 48.5 percent of their runs this season with two outs (82-of-169), the highest such percentage in the Majors.

Rivalry Bringing Out the Best

The Marlins are 2-1 against the Phillies this year after they went 10-9 against them in 2019. All told, Miami is 12-12 against NL East opponents in 2020, while the Phillies are 17-9 against the division. Winning this series would hurt a division rival and solidify Miami’s playoff position.

And no one has enjoyed playing the Phillies more than Miguel Rojas. He sports a nine-game hit-streak against the Phillies, going 18-for-37 (.486), including a 3-for-4 effort with a home run and four RBIs in his last game against Philly on July 24.

Jorge Alfaro also plays well against the Phillies. He owns .432 (19-for-44) batting average in 13 career games versus Philadelphia, with two doubles, three homers and five RBI. Brian Anderson, meanwhile, has posted a .349 batting average (22-for-63) and a 1.128 OPS (4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI) over his last 17 games versus the Phillies.

One player who needs to get going is Starling Marte, who’s managed just a .200 batting average (7-for-35) with two home runs and four RBI in the eight games since the trade deadline.

Marlins Nationals

5 Takeaways from Marlins Series Win over Nationals

The Miami Marlins entered their five-game, four-day wrap around series versus the Washington Nationals having lost five straight. The Marlins arrived in D.C. struggling at the plate, particularly with runners-in-scoring-position. While starting pitching had been the team’s strength thus far, there were a few hiccups with that, too.

However, the Marlins ended their five-game skid and took the series versus the Nationals 3-2. The series win marked Miami’s first in D.C. since 2018, and the team’s first five-game series win since 2004.

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

Offense Finally Opening Up

After huge struggles with runners-in-scoring-position during the losing streak, the Marlins offense broke out during this series. On Monday, the team batted around in the fourth inning, seeing eight baserunners and getting six hits.

An inning after leaving the bases loaded (something the team has struggled with this season), the Marlins plated six runs, including four with two outs. Nine of the team’s 11 runs on Monday came with two outs.

All told, the Marlins offense posted 5.2 runs-per-game during the series played in D.C. That’s after managing just 2.2 runs-per-game during the losing skid. With runners-in-scoring-position, Miami went 12-for-37 (.324), versus just 7-for-38 (.184) during the losing streak. Those five extra hits made the difference between winning the series and continuing the slide.

Returns of Alfaro and Rojas Are Key

Its well-trodden territory talking about the COVID-19 outbreak for the Marlins, but versus the Nationals, Miami finally saw some important returns.

Miguel Rojas signaled his return in a loud way. The unofficial captain of the team, who’d been live tweeting games while in quarantine and rehab, connected on a 3-run home run in his first at-bat back. He turned on a 2-0 offering from Patrick Corbin and immediately injected life into the lineup. In the series, Rojas went 3-for-13, with four RBI, three walks and three runs scored.

Jorge Alfaro, meanwhile, made his season debut during this series. Lost prior to Opening Day to COVID-19, Alfaro started as DH on Friday, then took over catching duties once Francisco Cervelli was lost to a concussion. Alfaro’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time.

Alfaro singled in his first at-bat. He turned on the first pitch he saw and punched it into left field, later scoring on Rojas’s homer. Alfaro also went 3-for-13 in the series and registered his first RBI of the season yesterday.

Big Time Debuts in Marlins and Nationals Series

The Marlins have had 14 players make their MLB debut this season: INF Eddy Alvarez, LHP Daniel Castano, INF Lewin Díaz, RHP Jorge Guzman, OF Monte Harrison, RHP Jordan Holloway, LHP Brandon Leibrandt, RHP Humberto Mejía, C Brian Navaretto, RHP Nick Neidert, OF Jesus Sanchez, RHP Sixto Sanchez, RHP Sterling Sharp and LHP Alex Vesia.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 14 debuts matches St Louis for most in the Majors this season. Entering 2020, no team in MLB history had as many debuts over a team’s first 25 games. Elias also notes that the 14 MLB debuts matches the second-most for a single-season in Franchise history (14 in 1998 and 16 in 2010). More debuts are to come.

Sixto Sanchez’s debut came with particular fanfare and the team’s top prospect did not disappoint. Sanchez earned the win in his debut in the nightcap of the doubleheader over the weekend. He threw five innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs and two homers. He posted four strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Sanchez will be a fixture in the rotation moving forward.

“He’s gonna pitch every fifth day,” Mattingly said yesterday. “Right now, he’s in this rotation and we don’t plan on him going anywhere.”

Jesus Sanchez also made his much-awaited Marlins debut versus the Nationals. Although Sanchez has yet to break out (1-for-15), he’s demonstrating good patience at the plate. He sees 4.2 pitches-per-plate-appearance and has drawn four walks. He’s only struck out five times thus far, 26 percent of his plate appearances. Harrison, who Sanchez replaced in the lineup, has a strikeout rate of 54 percent.

Bullpen Needs Reinforcements

While the lineup has started to see players return, the bullpen remains threadbare. The Marlins bullpen has the 10th-worst ERA in MLB (5.09) and a negative-1.1 WAR (29th). Since the team’s restart after the outbreak, the bullpen’s ERA is 5.13 (8th-highest).

The biggest problem for the bullpen has been walks. Since August 4th, Miami’s bullpen issues walks at a rate of 4.5 BB/9. They’ve also allowed 1.67 HR/9, 19 in total this season. Justin Shafer has allowed the most runs out of the ‘pen (8), with Stephen Tarpley and Sharp trailing right behind (7).

Brandon Kintzler, though, has been solid as the closer, converting all six of his save opportunities.

With the starters pitching well, it’s important that the bullpen maintain leads moving forward. Kintzler has stabilized the back end, but the bridges from starter to closer need to be sturdier. Nick Vincent, Brad Boxberger and James Hoyt have all had a measure of success, and that will need to continue, especially with Tarpley landing on the IL.

The Marlins expect Yimi Garcia, Ryne Stanek, Vesia and others back soon.

Roster Shuffle Continues

With those bullpen arms waiting in the wings, many of those players lost to the IL due to COVID are near their return. Sandy Alcantara nearly made the trip to Washington, and Jose Urena and Caleb Smith are both readying themselves as well.

The Marlins designated Sharp for assignment after the young reliever’s recent troubles. His Rule-5 designation means he’ll be returned to the Nationals. Richard Bleier returned from the IL, but several other relievers remain unavailable.

Miami elected to recall Lewin Diaz for this week’s series versus the New York Mets, as well as relievers Guzman and Jesús Tinoco. The team reinstated Alvarez from Paternity List and optioned him to the Alternate Training Site in Jupiter. Leibrandt was also optioned after a successful MLB debut.

These moves have been made to prepare the Marlins for a key series versus the Mets. With four games in three days, the Marlins are looking to maintain their hold on a playoff spot while they await the return of the other players on the IL.

Lewin Diaz

Meet the Marlins: Lewin Diaz

The Miami Marlins made a few roster moves this afternoon, following their 8-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. The team moved Corey Dickerson to the Bereavement List and called up first base prospect Lewin Diaz.

Marlins Call Up Lewin Diaz

The 23-year-old Diaz, who’s from the Dominican Republic, stands six-foot-foot and is an imposing figure in the box. He came to the Marlins organization last year as part of a deal with the Minnesota Twins for closer Sergio Romo and pitching prospect Chris Vallimont.

In 31 games for Marlins’ Double-A level affiliate, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Diaz connected on eight homers and drove in 14 runs. He slashed .200/.279/.461, but overall in 2019, he hit 27 home runs and drove in 76 runs in 121 games.

This from MLB Pipeline:

Diaz’s value lies in his offensive potential from the left side of the plate. He had shown an ability to make consistent contact and drive the ball to all fields in the past, though lost his way in 2018. He rediscovered his stroke in 2019 and is starting to tap into his tremendous raw power, especially to the pull side, setting a career high in home runs. Even when Diaz struggled, he kept his strikeout rate low and never really tried to sell out for power.

In Spring Training 1.0, Diaz went 7-for-26 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said this afternoon that the Marlins selected Diaz over fellow left-handed hitting prospect Jesus Sanchez because they want to keep Jesus Aguilar rested. Diaz plays first base and could spell Aguilar there, whereas Sanchez plays RF and Mattingly said the team is set in the outfield for now.

Diaz will not start on Saturday, given the Braves are throwing their left-handed ace Max Fried (3-0, 1.59 ERA). He has a chance to see the field on Sunday, depending upon who Atlanta trots out there.

COVID-IL Update

The Marlins announced today that most of the players on the COVID-related IL have been approved by the MLB/MLBPA Joint Committee for reinstatement. Craig Mish reported early today that Sandy Alcantaraand Miguel Rojas were approved and that they were on the verge of beginning their rehab at the team’s alternate site in Jupiter.

The Marlins did not share additional names regarding the approved reinstatements. Among the other names are Jorge Alfaro, Garrett Cooper, Harold Ramirez, Caleb Smith and Jose Urena.

Remember, two-thirds of the bullpen and three-fifths of the starting rotation suffered the COVID-19 set back, so the pitching staff could receive a shot in the arm in the coming weeks.

Mattingly said yesterday he’s not going to rush the players coming back from the COVID-related IL, especially the pitchers.

“It’s safety first. These guys are too valuable. If you bring them back too quickly, they get hurt.”

Miami has made 60 roster moves since the season began on July 24. The Marlins currently have 21 players on the IL. Only 13 players on the active roster were on it on Opening Day. But it would seem that reinforcements are right around the corner.

Pat Venditte

Marlins Roster Updates Amid COVID Outbreak

The Miami Marlins haven’t played since last Sunday. The game, which has become the source of national consternation, went on despite the beginnings of the COVID outbreak and ended with an 11-6 Marlins win. According to reports, both MLB and the Phillies were aware of the positive tests and still elected to play the game.

The story of the Marlins COVID outbreak is now subject to both an internal team investigation as well as one by MLB. While there’ve been some wildly irresponsible accusations and speculation by some members in the media, no evidence of wrongdoing has come to light.

Good News Amid the Marlins COVID outbreak

As of the latest round of testing, a 17th Marlins player saw a positive result. In good news, though, one of the two coaches who had previously tested positive has since tested negative.

Additional good news came out last night when OF Harold Ramirez, during an interview with Telemundo, revealed experiencing just light symptoms. Ramirez went on to say none of the other players were experiencing symptoms.

“Thank God I feel a little better,” Ramirez said. “I don’t have a cough anymore. And my body aches have gone away.”

The team remains sequestered in a pair of hotels in Philadelphia, and should Thursday’s tests come back with no additional positives, they could begin the process of arranging travel back to South Florida.

Miguel Rojas took to Twitter Thursday to thank Marlins fans and reassure them he’s looking forward to getting back on the field.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are facing a potential outbreak of their own. Reports today revealed Philadelphia’s series with the Blue Jays has been postponed following a pair of positive tests for the Phillies (a coach and a home clubhouse attendant).

Initial Roster Moves

All of this will eventually lead to several roster moves by the Marlins. As of Thursday afternoon, the team had only moved C Jorge Alfaro, 1B/RF Garrett Cooper, Ramirez and SP José Ureña to the 10-day Injured List. SS Miguel Rojas and SP Sandy Alcantara have also been reported as players who’ve tested positive.

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

Shafer made 40 relief appearances for the Blue Jays over the last two seasons. He sports a 3.75 ERA with 41 K and 32 BB over 41 IP. Smith pitched six games for Miami in 2019 and posted an 8.31 ERA. He surrendered four earned runs over 4.1 IP. The Marlins have another Josh Smith, Josh A. Smith, in the 60-man player pool as well.

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

 

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

Marlins Latest Roster Additions

A busy day unfolded for the team on Thursday as well. The Marlins have reportedly signed utility infielder Logan Forsythe, as well as a pair of former Marlins in C Wilkin Castillo and RP Pat Venditte.

Forsythe is a 9-year MLB vet who’s played for five different teams. His career slash line is .246/.327/.360. In 2019 with the Texas Rangers, Forsythe struggled, posting a .227/.325/.678 slash line with seven HR and 39 RBI. He has 42 career steals in 58 attempts.

Defensively, Forsythe provided positional flexibility. He’s made 643 appearances at second base, 143 at third, 75 at first and 36 at shortstop. He has 21 appearances in the outfield as well.

Two Former Marlins Return

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

Castillo’s primary position remains catcher, but he’s played every other position on the field during his career. He’s made five pitching appearances and has two career wins in the minors. He’s played at every position on the field as well. His addition provides depth at the position, considering prospect C Will Banfield remains on the IL.

For Venditte, his signing marks a return after parting ways with Miami earlier in the Spring. At 35-tears-old, Venditte remains one of the most unique players in MLB history. He’s a “switch pitcher,” meaning he has the ability to work off the mound with either arm, depending upon the handedness of the hitter.

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

These additions to the pitching staff could prove particularly valuable if and when the Marlins resume their season after the COVID outbreak is contained. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday afternoon that the MLB and MLBPA on an agreement to adjust the length of double-headers to seven innings apiece. Double-headers will likely be a regular feature in any version of the schedule when the Marlins resume play.

This potential change comes on the heels of a change to the MLB’s protocols. The change to the protocol involves the use of surgical masks while traveling and the addition of a protocol compliance officer.

Marlins beat Phillies

Marlins Beat Phillies 11-6, Take Opening Series

About 90 minutes before game time, a seismic rumble rolled through the Marlins clubhouse. Don Mattingly scratched Jose Urena from his scheduled start, and regular starters Harold Ramirez and Garrett Cooper were pulled as well. However, despite the uncertainty surrounding the club, the Marlins rallied to beat the Phillies, 11-6.

Miguel Rojas spurred the comeback, going 3-for-4 with a home run, triple, hit-by-pitch, three runs scored and four RBI. He fell a double shy of what would have been the first cycle for the Marlins franchise (4,306 games).

“It was a whole group of guys just relentless and not quitting,” said Rojas. “I’m so proud of the way we approached the day today. It was a weird day, a lot going on in the morning. This group of guys showed character.”

Rojas emphasized the team effort. “Everybody did their part to win the game.”

Marlins Bats Come Alive

The Marlins beat the Phillies thanks, in large part, to the bottom of the order. Rojas hit in the eight-hole. Isan Diaz (hitting seventh) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. He made solid contact in two of his other at-bats in addition to the hits.

Magneuris Sierra, who made the 30-man roster over the likes of Monte Harrison and some of the other outfield prospects, demonstrated his value as well. Sierra (hitting ninth) went 2-for-3 with two RBI, a double, triple and walk. He played a great centerfield.

Most think Sierra made the team because his out of minor league options, but he does sport game-changing speed. Sierra hit .350 in 15 game after a September 3rd call-up last season.

New additions Corey Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar continued their hot start as Marlins. Dickerson went 2-for-5 with a towering home run in the sixth. He scored twice and drove in one. Aguilar hit his second homer of the season and finished 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored.

For the three game set, the Marlins hit five home runs, four doubles and two triples for 27 total hits and 17 runs.

Pitchers Played their Role

Robert Dugger made the surprise start in place of Urena. He learned about the change in the morning and called the moment “a shock. I had a little bit of time to mentally prepare. Everyone had confidence in me. You just got to adapt and be that guy for the team that day.”

Dugger surrendered a three-run home run to Bryce Harper in the first inning, but saw his teammates get all those runs back in the second. Dugger settled in to give up just one more run, ultimately going 3.1 innings.

Jordan Holloway, a 20th round pick for the Marlins in 2014, made his MLB debut. He walked his first batter but induced a deep fly ball out from Bryce Harper to register his first out. He gave up a pair of singles before coming out but did not surrender a run.

Holloway is the first pitcher to make the leap from Single-A since Jose Fernandez. He throws hard, working from 95-98 mph peaking at 100 with his fastball. In 2019, Holloway posted 93 strikeouts but 66 walks over 95 IP.

Seven pitchers went for Miami in this one. The Phillies managed baserunners often, but relievers only surrendered one run. Philadelphia loaded the bases in the fifth, six and eighth innings, but managed to push across just one run.

Walks continued to be an issue for the ‘pen, as they issued six free passes on the day. Luckily, none of the those walks came around to score for Philadelphia.

Marlins Beat Phillies Despite COVID Uncertainty

“It was a huge day for us,” Mattingly said. “Losing our starter, getting down four, the boys just bounced back. It would’ve been very easy to feel bad for yourself, so it’s was a big win from that standpoint.”

The Marlins changed their travel plans after the game and will stay in Philadelphia for the night. That decision is likely COVID-19 related, as the team awaits test results. Prior to the game Urena, Ramirez and Cooper were all pulled from the lineup, and while the team hasn’t confirmed this, several reports have surfaced that all three players have tested positive.

The Marlins already have Jorge Alfaro on the 10-day IL dealing with COVID related issues. Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce did not work out with the team during summer camp and remain on the IL. Brinson has returned to workouts in Jupiter, as has prospect Jazz Chisholm, who also had a bout with COVID.

The team will fly home tomorrow to face the Baltimore Orioles. Pablo Lopez is scheduled to start for the Marlins. Asher Wojciechowski should go for Baltimore.

Since the Marlins beat the Phillies 11-6, they won the three-game series 2-1. It’s the first time since 2014 the Marlins have won the opening series of the season.

Marlins extend Don Mattingly and Miguel Rojas

The Marlins announced the contract extensions of manager Don Mattingly and shortstop Miguel Rojas.

The Miami Marlins opened their final home series of the season with some encouraging news.

Mattingly’s extension runs through 2021 and includes a mutual option for 2022. He becomes the first MLB manager since Terry Collins to have losing records in his first four seasons with a team and return for a fifth season. The Mets went to the World Series in Collins’ fifth season at the helm.

“I think about his leadership, demeanor and overall character,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter on Mattingly. “He’s all in. He keeps our guys competing on a daily basis.”

Mattingly said he’s thrilled to have the opoprtunity to see this though. He’s seen the prospects first hand and has read the reports. His extension is a good sign that the minor league talent that has been brought in over the last two years is on the way soon.

“Hopefully by the time I’m done, this team is in a great place,” Mattingly said.

Rojas’ deal with Marlins is for $10.5M over 2 years and an option. Jeter called Rojas “the true example of a professional.”

“This front office has been transparent since last Spring Training. Derek and Bruce,” Rojas said. “They are always going to tell you the truth trom day one.”

Rojas has been with the Marlins since 2015 as a part of the Dee Gordon trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has grown from utility infielder to starting shortstop and team leader. When Mattingly was asked in July about who should be the Marlins All-Star, he chose Rojas for his leadership.

The Marlins should have about $25 million is coming off the books with Martin Prado’s contract expiring and Starlin Castro’s $1M buyout. That money should be spent on improving the team, especially the bullpen. While Jeter was non-committal on the issue, he did emphasize that he wants his top prospects to have a clear pathway to the big leagues.

“They’re coming and we don’t want to block their way,” Jeter said.

 

Hey now, who’s a Marlins All-Star?

The starting lineups have already been decided by the voting public but the rest of the All-Star rosters for the American League and National League will be announced on Sunday on ESPN.

The fans picked the starters. The players vote for the reserves. There are 24 remaining roster spots for the NL and 23 for the AL due to the designated hitter. The player ballot will fill 16/17 available spots and the Commissioner’s Office will fill the remainder, mainly to make sure each team has a representative.

The Marlins didn’t have a player voted among the finalist in any position. It’s likely that none of the Miami bats will be selected as an All-Star but it would be fitting if one of their remaining healthy starting pitchers were to get the nod.

Sandy Alcantara has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP and is the most likely candidate to be selected. His next start is at Washington on Wednesday and would be on schedule to pitch during the All-Star Game, should he be one. With a minimum of 80 innings pitched, there are 17 starting pitchers in the National League with a lower ERA than Alcantara. There are 40 starting pitchers with a lower WHIP including fellow Marlins starting pitcher Trevor Richards. 

Relievers have been chosen before and sometimes used as the one-team rep, even when they weren’t closers. Austin Brice has a 2.25 ERA and would be the dark horse candidate. Same goes for rookie Nick Anderson, who is tied for third among National League rookies in strikeouts. 

But if you were to ask Miami manager Don Mattingly who should the representing the Marlins in the All-Star Game, it would be shortstop Miguel Rojas.

“If you ask me to say who I’d say our guy is, if you are to say we have to take one, without dismissing anyone else, I think Miggy is a great representative for us,” Mattingly said.

His reasoning is that Rojas would fit the mold to represent the organization at the Midsummer Classic on July 9 at Cleveland.

“I think Miggy best represents our club,” Mattingly said. “He’s a guy who plays every day, battles every day. He can play all over the field. He really knows how to play.”

Rojas’ statistics doesn’t necessarily jump out. He’s slashing .287/.350/.706 with 23 RBIs but no home runs. He’s been one of the best shortstops in the month of June, hitting .348 with a .885 OPS.

He’s got the intangibles and can provide a quality at-bat no matter where he is slated in the lineup. Mattingly said he sees Rojas as an All-Star utility pick, since he could come in and play anywhere on the infield.

The rest of the Marlins hitters haven’t been on the field long enough to warrant All-Star consideration compared to rest of the league, which makes the announcement all the more suspenseful.

The Cinco Razones Marlins All Star representative

The Marlins still don’t know who will represent the team in the MLB All Star Game next week in Cleveland.

Caleb Smith looked like an ace for the first couple of months, and then fell off the table, and got injured, which opened the door to other members of the roster.

Cinco Razones Podcast in English made its debut on Thursday at Marlins Park with Tony Capobianco, and DutchBeek (stuck somewhere thanks to the Miami traffic).

One of the main subjects was who we think should be the Marlin that travels to Progressive Field.

These are our options:

Miguel Rojas

The Marlins shortstop is finally getting the opportunity to play every day and his work is showing up. Before Thursday’s night’s game, Rojas was hitting .276 / .342 OBP leading the team with 16 doubles, along with Brian Anderson, and among the best defenders in the National League.

Harold Ramírez

Harold Ramírez arrived and started hitting as soon as he got the opportunity to play. The Colombian has been one of the good news this year for the Marlins.

He is hitting .315 (up to Thursday’s game), with a .351 on-base percentage, eight doubles, two homers and 17 runs batted in. With way more than 100 at bats less than most of the regular players in the Marlins roster, Ramírez has done as much or more than his teammates.

His two homeruns don’t impress anybody, especially among outfielders, but could make an interesting case as the best Marlin hitter so far.

Garrett Cooper

The Marlins stuck with Garrett Cooper despite his injuries and is paying off. Cooper is battling Ramírez for the best average of the team and has added some power to the lineup, with seven homeruns in about the same amount of at bats as Ramírez, and has the best on-base percentage of the team.

As Ramírez, his numbers don’t impress being an outfielder, and they impress even less if you put it among first basemen, but could definitively be a fair choice for the team in the All Star Game.

Sandy Alcántara

Sandy Alcántara has stayed healthy and seems like he is finally establishing himself as one of the core members of the future rotation for this team.

The Dominican has the second best ERA among starters this year (minimum 15 starts), with 3.51, just behind Smith’s 3.41, in 89.2 innings pitched, Marlins’ best.

 

Check out our first episode of Cinco Razones Podcast in English, in which we decided to pick out the Marlins representative for the MLB All Star Game 2019 in Cleveland and talked about the possibility of losing the Marlins in Miami if the fans don’t start to show up in the next few years: