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How to Watch, Bet the 60-Game Baseball Season

Since its inception in 1903, the Major League Baseball is the home to some of the best baseball players in the world. The last few seasons have been extremely interesting and the new season has some changes which are worth looking at since they might be confusing to some fans.

We are going to discuss this topic into detail and give you an insight into the shortened 60-game season, the biggest favorites, and share some interesting intel on betting. As you may know, many baseball fans are more than happy to place a bet or two and we are going to provide you with the best platform for betting. After all, sports and betting are separate industries that always went side by side.

Betting With Online Bookies

There are plenty of baseball betting lines that you should check out. The odds are great and you might end up with a nice prize. Even though some people prefer to place their bets in land-based bookies, a new and revolutionizing way has become popular in the last few years.

Online bookies are favored by millions of people around the world. The reason for that is that they have numerous advantages over the land-based bookies. They are available at any time and place, offer better odds and rewards, and most importantly – they are far more efficient.

We all know that in sports, placing bets fast, especially with live betting, is important. And since baseball is one of the sports where each second matters, placing bets at online bookies is a far greater option than walking to a land-based sportsbook. But, there are some rules that you need to know about sports betting, so make sure you check them out.

Now, let’s see what the shortened MLB season has to offer us.

When Does it Start and How Will it Work?

The MLB season starts on July 23 with a split Opening Day. The Yankees will face the Nationals, while the Dodgers will face the Dodgers. The rest of the schedule is still unknown, but there are some games scheduled on July 24.

Each team will play 60 games – 40 of them will be against their division rivals and 20 interleague games. The 2020 MLB All-Star Game is sadly cancelled, but the next game will take place at Truist Park in Atlanta (2021). 

Rosters will be different and some rule changes will be implemented. The new rule which allows position players to pitch in certain situations is abandoned. Games that are stopped due to rain before the fifth inning will be considered as suspended. The National League will have a designated hitter and extra innings will begin with a runner on the second base to reduce the chances of long games.

Even though the whole situation is new and it looks challenging, some quirks will come out. Teams won’t have to travel as much as before, the season ends with seven Interleague series, and some of the monotony will be lifted. Some of the games that were standard for over a century in the League will not take place. 

Many teams will have some benefits with the way this season is scheduled, which is why we are excited to see what the outcome will be.

 

The Biggest Favorites

Minnesota Twins are the biggest favorites to win the American League Central. The Yankees are the number 1 team in the American League East, while Houston Astros are considered as favorites in the American League West. 

As far as the World Series, The New York Yankees top the list of biggest favorites to win it. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros are ranked second and third. Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins conclude the top 5 list. But, there are some teams that are worth watching. One of those are the Miami Marlins.

Why Did The Deal Came So Late?

The reason why the solution for a shortened season came so late is that the MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association were unable to make an agreement in May and July. The MLB owners drafted the first plan in mid-May and it featured a schedule of 82 games with no fans in the attendance.

MLBPA countered with another proposal, which was unacceptable for the MLB and the negotiations went on and on. During the end of June, the 60-game plan was finally voted unanimously and players reported to training camps on July 1. The plan was released on July 6 and slight changes were implemented in order to cut costs on the teams.

All in all, we are in for a treat. Although the start of the season might be a bit slow and teams will need a bit time to adjust to the changes in the rules, we do not doubt that the level of excitement will be no less than the previous seasons. 

Marlins 2020 Schedule

5 Takeaways from Marlins 2020 Schedule

The Miami Marlins have their hands full this season. Thanks the to the coronavirus and the bickering over money between billionaire owners and millionaire players, MLB plans on just a 60 game season. The Marlins 2020 schedule has them playing strictly in the East region. They’ll face their NL East rivals, as well as their AL East counterparts.

Here’s a look at 5 Takeaways for the Marlins 2020 Schedule.

Marlins 2020 Schedule: A Sprint, not a Marathon

Normally, the MLB season feels like a marathon. The 162-game slate stretches from late March to early October most years and has teams crisscrossing the nation. This year, though, a truncated 60-game sprint to the playoffs faces each squad. And for the Marlins, this has both advantages and drawbacks.

The advantages are clear: it’s a pennant race right from the start. The Marlins are tied for first late in July for the first time perhaps ever. Despite a pair of World Series victories, Miami has never won the NL East. In recent years, by late July the team had been mired in the cellar or struggling for a wild card berth.

The 60-game sprint introduces a level of uncertainty unseen in previous seasons.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly recently said: “In a 162-game schedule, the best teams usually win. Those are the teams with depth and over the long haul things even out. But in a 60-game season, there’s a lot of momentum. You go 8-4 out of the gate, you’ve played 20 percent of your season, and you put pressure on teams.”

“Everybody has a chance in this scenario,” Mattingly said, and players have echoed that sentiment with a “Why Not Us” refrain.

The NL East is No Joke

Part of what makes the Marlins 2020 schedule such a gauntlet is that they’re part of the NL East. The division sports three teams that were above .500 and another at .500 in 2019. Other than the Marlins, who were a dismal 57-105, the other teams in the division averaged 89 wins for the year.

The Atlanta Braves won the division with a 97-65 record, but lost in the Divisional Series 3-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Washington Nationals secured a Wild Card, then proceeded to win the entire tournament.

Miami will face their NL East counterparts 40 times in 2020. Last season, the Marlins posted a 24-52 record against the NL East. Their only winning mark came versus Philadelphia (10-9), who they’ll start with in 2020. The Marlins had losing records against Atlanta (4-15), the Mets (6-13) and Washington (4-15).

The defending champion Nationals may have lost their MVP candidate (Anthony Rendon), but they still sport three aces. The Braves built a strong team with stars. And both the Phillies and the Mets are in win-now mode.

AL East Ain’t Much Easier

With MLB’s regional setup for the schedule, Miami also has to face the AL East. 20 of their 60 games will be against their interleague counterparts.

In 2019, Tampa Bay swept the Marlins (0-4). The Rays won 96 games and sport three aces of their own. Miami will face the Rays six times in 2020, on August 28-30 in Miami then September 4-6 in St. Petersburg. Over the last two seasons, the Marlins are 4-6 versus Tampa Bay, but 56-61 all-time.

For the rest of the AL East, the Marlins’ll see Baltimore and Toronto four times apiece, while facing the Red Sox and Yankees three times each. The Yankees have the deepest roster in the AL. Oh, and after winning 103 games, they added Gerrit Cole, who’s coming off a 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326-strikeout season.

“We know that the National League East is a bear of a division and the American League East is equally as difficult division,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said recently, “and I guess if you look at just from winning percentages from 2019, we’re going to face the toughest schedule. We know it’s going to be a battle.”

Marlins 2020 Schedule: Opening 12 Games

Marlins manager Don Mattingly noted recently that once you’re through the first 12 games of the season, you’ve completed 20 percent of the schedule. That fact alone makes the start of the season integral for any team with postseason aspirations.

For Miami, only four of the first 12 are on the road. They open on July 24th in Philadelphia for a three-game series with the Phillies. In 2019, the Marlins beat Philadelphia 10 times, so they’ll look for similar success this year. From there, they come home for two against the Orioles. Then they travel to Baltimore for two more. In 2018, the Marlins went 2-1 versus Baltimore and hold a whopping 22-8 record against them all-time.

The Marlins return home for a three-game series versus Washington. Miami was a dismal 4-15 versus the Nationals last season. Afterwards, they welcome the Phillies to town for three more games.

Realistically, the Marlins need to target eight wins in their first 12. It’ll be hugely important to bank wins early, so they can ride some of that momentum through mid-August. Eight wins early might mean they have a shot at 20 by the end of August.

“We need to win every game. You got to play like you’re gonna win every game,” Mattingly said of the team’s mindset for 2020. “Every game is important, every play is important, every out is important, and just go after it in that way.”

Marlins 2020 Schedule: Final 12 Games

The true gauntlet for the Marlins 2020 schedule comes in the waning days of the truncated regular season. Miami will close the 2020 campaign with a 7-game road trip through Atlanta and the Bronx. The Marlins’ final 12 games will come against teams that won 84, 93, 97 and 103 games in 2019. Three of those four were playoff teams.

Should the Marlins be in position to make the postseason, their final 12 will force them to earn their spot. There won’t be any backing into the playoffs this season.

Miami has the Braves on their schedule for 10 games in 2020, but their final series will be a four-game set in Atlanta. They were 4-15 versus the Braves with a minus-33 run differential in 2019.

The last series of the year will come in New York versus the Yankees. Historically, Miami has played well versus the Yankees, 13-15 all-time and 4-2 in the 2003 World Series.

The Marlins longest homestead of the season will come in September, overlapping these final 12 games. It’s a 10-game, 11-day stretch that could prove to be the make-or-break homestead of the year.

Jonathan Villar, right, works with Isan Diaz on the first day of spring training. Villar, an infielder, could end up in center field. (Craig Davis for Five Reasons Sports)

5 Marlins Roster Tidbits as Summer Camp Continues

The Miami Marlins have split their 60-man player pool workouts between Marlins Park and their facility in Jupiter, FL. While there’s been some movement back-and-forth by a few players, for the most part, players expected to be on the 30-man Opening Day roster are practicing at Marlins Park. There’s nothing set in stone yet, but there’s certainly growing clarity for the Marlins roster.

Here’s a look at five tidbits from recent media availabilities that are clues to the Marlins roster on Opening Day.

Jonathan Villar’s Versatility

The Marlins roster received a significant upgrade when the team landed Jonathan Villar this offseason.

In 2019, Villar slashed .273/.339/.453 and posted a 4.0 WAR over 162 games for Baltimore. He started 158 of them at either second base or at shortstop. Villar brings durability, defensive acumen and consistent offensive production.

“When you trade for Jonathan, that’s one of those moves as a manager that you’re like ‘Yes’ right away,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He gives you a guy up top. He’s a switch-hitter, power and average, steals bags. A guy that’s exciting up top.”

Defensively, though, it’s unclear what position Villar will man day-to-day.

According to Mattingly, Villar could bounce “back and forth between centerfield, second base, shortstop and DH.” He also has experience playing third base.

Villar said he’s “here for the team” and the possibility of playing multiple positions is one he’s ready for.

“You have to prepare mentally and physically every day. I’m prepared for whatever comes.”

Villar admitted some discomfort working in centerfield and said judging line drives has been particularly difficult early on. However, his spot in the lineup is all but assured.

“I still like him up top in the order,” Mattingly said, citing Villar’s combination of power and speed. The addition of the DH to the National League simplifies things for the Marlins, as Villar is an option there.

Marlins Roster: Fifth Starter Competition

Prior to Spring Training’s COVID-19 shut down, the frontend of Miami’s pitching rotation seemed set. While he hasn’t announced the Opening Day starter, Mattingly admitted they’ve settled on one.

The assumption at this point is that 2019 All-Star Sandy Alcantara will get the Opening Day nod in Philadelphia. From there, it’s likely that Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez and José Ureña will follow in some order.

Mattingly mentioned the team leans toward a regular five-man rotation. They’ve kicked around the idea of piggybacking but have ruled out a six-man set.

“I think we will probably try to settle on five [pitchers] and feel good about that, knowing that we have depth moving forward with the other guys,” Mattingly said of the staff.

The fifth spot candidates are: Jordan Yamamoto, Elieser Hernandez, Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert.

While most seemed to view it as a two-man race, Mattingly was quick to add the 23-year-old righty into the mix. He said Neidert’s in a “position to stay.”

In five minor league seasons, Neidert sports a 3.20 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and an 8.1 K/9 rate over 460.2 innings pitched. He features a 90-93 mph sinking fastball that pounds the bottom of the zone. His deceptive delivery can fool hitters.

In six innings pitched this spring, Neidert gave up only one earned run. Yamamoto surrendered three earned runs over eight innings pitched. Hernandez gave up six earned runs in his 11 innings. Dugger was the best of the bunch this Spring, not giving up any runs over 9.2 innings of work.

Isan Diaz

Don Mattingly came out on Wednesday in support of Isan Díaz as not only the Marlins current second baseman, but also the second baseman of the future.

“He’s the guy,” Matting said. That’s reassuring for the 24-year-old Puerto Rico native, especially considering his struggles in 2019.

After a rousing debut that saw Diaz connect on a home run against Jacob DeGrom, much to the delight of his father in the stands, hitting didn’t come as easily for him as it did in Triple-A. Diaz finished his 2019 stint with the Marlins with a .173 batting average and .259 on-base percentage in 201 plate appearances.

The struggles continued this spring, as he managed to slash just .103/.235/.103 over 34 plate appearances.

“We look at Isan as our second baseman,” said Mattingly. “Not only now, but we think he’s going to be the second baseman of the future.”

This vote of confidence comes after the Marlins brought in a productive offensive force in Villar that could play Diaz’s position.

“His track record shows that he’s gonna hit” Mattingly said. The manager acknowledged that it wasn’t great for Diaz last year, but that he “had spurts, had moments.”

Mattingly likened Diaz to Brian Anderson as some who “sees the ball well, gets himself good pitches to hit. Sometimes maybe a little too passive, but knows the strike zone, is capable of using the whole field, has got a clean swing.”

Learning from these experiences will be key for Diaz. He’s viewed as the second baseman right now, but an extended struggle may force Mattingly’s hand in a truncated season.

Marlins Roster: Bullpen Shakeup

Last season, the Marlins featured one of the worst bullpens in MLB. Miami relievers posted the fifth-worst ERA (4.97), strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.11) and save percentage (55.1). Their WHIP (1.45) was seventh worst. Relievers blew 22 save opportunities and surrendered a .235 batting-average-against and .343 on-base percentage.

“You look at our overall bullpen performance, and it was not good,” said Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill in December.

The biggest addition for the bullpen in 2020 was 35-year-old Brandon Kintzler. The 11-year MLB veteran signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the Marlins.

Kintzler has taken a mentor role with this young group. He’s stressed value of routines and expressed that “this generation throws way too much” and that they’ll have to “figure out how to be a bullpen guy the big leagues.”

The bullpen turnover has also seen the addition of 31-year-old Brad Boxberger. Boxberger has 77 career saves, 3.59 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over MLB eight seasons, including a league-leading 41 with Tampa Bay in 2015. In 2018 with Arizona, he registered 32 saves.

Among the other additions stands Yimi Garcia. The 29-year-old five-year MLB vet posted a 3.61 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 62.1 innings pitched with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A power arm, Garcia throws strikes and avoids walks, two things that will help this bullpen.

These veterans will help the development of younger arms like newcomers Stephen TarpleySterling Sharp, Alex Vesia and Nick Vincent. They’ll join incumbent relievers Jeff BrighamAdam ConleyRyne Stanek and Drew Steckenrider.

Kintzler is the presumptive closer come Opening Day. Mattingly also heralded Boxberger as one of the experienced arms in the ‘pen. Garcia impressed this spring, and Sharp is a Rule 5 pick who will need to be on the Marlins roster to be kept.

Mattingly also seems high on Vesia, the left prospect who sported a 41 scoreless inning streak recently.

“There’s plenty to like. Everywhere he went he had success.” Mattingly said Vesia “pitched with confidence” & “has some moxie about him,” noting “He’s on the attack. He’s not afraid. He’s a strike thrower.”

Monte Harrison

Heading into Spring Training, Monte Harrison stood among the options for centerfield. He competed with Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra, among others, for the spot.

Over 27 plate appearances before the COVID-19 shut down, Harrison swung the bat well. He slashed .364/.481/.500, had six RBI, three doubles and a team-leading six stolen bases.

“Monte looks good,” Mattingly said. “He’s swung the bat good here. Plays with energy, plays fast. He’s aggressive.”

Mattingly called Harrison a “mega-talented kid.” The 24-year-old came to Miami as part of the Christian Yelichdeal and has a lofty ceiling. His combination of speed and strength reinforce his all-around tools. He has an 84 percent success rate with stolen bases over his minor league career and could be a 30-30 guy at the Major League level.

“Monte’s worked really hard to continue to improve,” Mattingly said.  “And he’s going to continue to improve and get better. We’re happy with the strides he’s been making. Obviously, the new summer camp puts him back in the equation.”

Max Meyer

Max Meyer Throws First Bullpen for Marlins

Max Meyer toed the rubber for the first time in a Marlins uniform on Tuesday. Miami’s most recent first round pick, Meyer joined the 60-man player pool after signing his contract. As part of the pool, Meyer joined the workouts in progress at the team’s training facility in Jupiter, FL.

“The juices were flowing a little bit being the first time back on the mound and especially in the Marlins uniform was pretty special,” Meyer said of the afternoon session. “It was really fun to be out there for the first time in uniform.”

Max Meyer Adds Another High-End Arm to the System

Meyer became the latest in Miami’s line of high-end arms in the system. The 21-year-old sports a fastball that touches 99 miles-per-hour and tops out at 102 MPH. The “out” pitch, though, is a devastating slider. According to Keith Law of The Athletic, Meyer was “the most major-league ready player in the draft.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik. “That’s the most athletic college pitcher in this Draft, with the most electric stuff, and he’s just about Major League-ready.”

The Marlins took Meyer out of the University of Minnesota. As a member of the Golden Gophers, he posted a 2.13 ERA with 11.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 148 innings in his career. Prior to the COVID-19 shut down, he pitched 27.2 innings with a 1.95 ERA.

There were some concerns with Meyer’s size. (He’s listed at 6-foot, 185 pounds, but says he’s added weight since). But he profiles with favorable comps to former CY Young winner Tim Lincecum and 3-time All-Star Roy Oswalt.

Being associated with those names, as well as the possibility of a quick MLB debut, could be seen as added pressure, but Meyer doesn’t feel that way.

“I don’t really think about that too much honestly,” Meyer admitted. “I can’t control any of that, so I’m just gonna keep doing what I have been doing, working out, throwing. I’ll be ready for whatever happens.”

JJ Bleday Reacts to Meyer’s Bullpen Session

Meyer’s first bullpen session was limited to 20 pitches, which he said were mostly fastballs with some changeups mixed in.

Fellow top-prospect JJ Bleday stood in on a few of Meyer’s pitches and came away impressed.

“The first thing I noticed right off the bat was how athletic he is,” Bleday said. “He’s got confident body movements. He pounds the zone, and he’s pretty calm, cool, collected on the mound. As a position player that’s what I like to see out of a pitcher.

“It was just fun standing in on him,” Belday said, who never faced Meyer in college, “that was cool.”

Bleday complimented Meyer’s athleticism, saying it “speaks volumes. You don’t want to be just a pitcher, you want to be the guy that makes that play when the guy drops a bunt and he’s definitely got that ability and that athleticism.”

Much of Meyer’s athleticism comes from his experience as a two-sport athlete. Meyer grew up in Minnesota and spent his whole life playing hockey. In college, Meyer would spend his winter breaks playing hockey every day.

“It’s definitely a big part of my life and I feel like I kind of bring that bulldog mentality on the mound. I was a pretty physical player in hockey, so I kinda get fired up when I’m out on the mound.”

Among the Other Prospects

In Jupiter, other top pitching prospects surround Meyer. Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, Jorge Guzman and Braxton Garrett all pop the catcher’s mitt with velocity.

“I’ve been looking at the arms and I feel like the balls just fly out of these guys’ hands. It’s unbelievable honestly,” Meyer said of the other pitchers. “There’s definitely some good competition to throw against.”

Meyer admitted that draft day was a blur and called meeting Marlins CEO Derek Jeter “unbelievable. I’m so happy to be a part of this organization led by all these top guys up here. It’s been unbelievable.”

There’s no doubt Max Meyer features as a major part of Miami’s future, be it as a starter or closer. He joins a prolific set of pitching prospects who have the Marlins’ outlook on the rise.

“It’s a fun group of guys,” Meyers said of those in Jupiter. “They got a lot of good arms here and some good bats, so it’s gonna be fun.”

Marlins roster

5 Takeaways from the Marlins Roster Reveal

The Miami Marlins are faced with a difficult task in 2020, though there are plenty of reasons to watch the team this season. The team has one of the most difficult schedules in MLB. Over the weekend, the Marlins roster reveal began with the announcement of 57 of the 60 spots for their player pool.

But now that Miami’s 60-man set for the 2020 season has been announced, it’s time to take a look at 5 takeaways from the Marlins Roster Reveal.

Marlins Roster: Pitching Prospects in the Pool

Miami sports one of MLB’s strongest farm systems. While there are plenty of solid bats in the minors, the strength of the system sits on the mound. The team’s top prospect, Sixto Sanchez, is among the 60 players in the 2020 pool.

While Sanchez might not break camp with the team, the 21-year-old right hander could very well make his MLB debut this season. The combination of command and stuff makes Sanchez one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. Likely headed to Triple-A Wichita after Spring Training, he had a shot at the bigs in 2020.

The other top-end pitching prospects in the pool include: RHP Edward Cabrera, LHP Braxton Garrett, RHP Jorge Guzman, RHP Jordan Holloway, RHP Nick Neidert and LHP Trevor Rogers. It’s unlikely all of these players make their debut, especially considering it’s unclear what the 2020 season will do for a player’s service time.

Cabrera, Garrett, Neidert, Rogers and Sanchez are all among the Marlins’ top-10 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. While Miami’s starting rotation seemed all but set by the time Spring Training was postponed, there’s a shot that Neidert, the 23-year-old righty who came over in the Dee Gordon deal, could steal a spot in the rotation.

Marlins Roster: Positional Prospects in the Pool

Although the Marlins farm system is loaded with excellent arm talent, there are a number of position players who are high-end talents and future franchise cornerstones. JJ Bleday, Jazz Chisholm and  Jesús Sánchez are numbers two, three and four, respectively, among the Marlins’ top prospects.

All three are 22-year-old left-handed hitters. It’s only a matter of time before they make their MLB debuts. Having them among the 60-player pool affords Miami the option of bringing them up. Chisholm seems the closest to the Majors at this point, considering his position at shortstop, as well as his power and speed.

The other top position prospects in the pool are José Devers, Lewin Díaz, Jerar Encarnacion and Monte Harrison. At 23-years-old, Diaz sports a power left-handed bat that could be a fixture in the Marlins lineup for years to come.

Harrison is primed to break camp with the team this summer. At 24-years-old, the centerfielder features all-around tools, including speed, arm-strength and defense. During Spring Training, Harrison slashed .364/.481/.500 over 22 at-bats. He also registered six stolen bases and should push Lewis Brinson for a starting spot.

Devers and Encarnacion are unlikely to break camp with the club, though Encarnacion projects as a future DH.

Marlins Roster: Options at DH

With the addition of the designated hitter to the NL, the Marlins find themselves with an extra bat for their lineup. This will simplify manager Don Mattingly’s lineup construction. The team’s free agent signings seem prescient now that they can include a DH every day.

The Marlins added Jesús Aguilar, Matt Joyce and Jonathan Villar this offseason, and each one can man the DH. Interestingly, Miami lists Villar as an infielder. This may indicate he’s no longer being considered for an everyday spot at centerfield. Traditionally a middle infielder, Villar could compete with Isan Díaz and  Miguel Rojas for their spots at second base and shortstop.

Should Aguilar win the job at first base, Mattingly could turn to  Garrett Cooper. Cooper has struggled with injuries throughout his Marlins career, so DH might suit him well. Other options for DH include: Harold Ramirez, Sanchez and Encarnacion.

Free Agent Snubs

The Marlins spent some money this offseason, bringing in quality veterans to help speed up the rebuilding process. Among those signees was 3-time All-Star Matt Kemp, who the Marlins signed to a minor-league deal in the offseason, and “switch-pitcher” Pat Venditte.

Kemp came to camp as an option for both outfield and first base. Unfortunately, the 14-year vet didn’t make much of an impression during spring training, where he slashed just .143/.200/.143. Kemp may benefit from the new DH rule in 2020, but it’ll be with a different team.

Venditte signed a minor-league deal with Miami this offseason. The ambidextrous Venditte can throw with either hand for the Marlins, thus the “switch-pitcher” label. But he’s had limited success in the majors during his career. His signing was seen as a potential solution to MLB’s new three-batter minimum for relief pitchers.

Among the top prospects that did not make the Marlins roster pool are: Peyton Burdick, Victor Victor Mesa and Kameron Misner.

Alternative Training Site

The Marlins are one of the luckiest teams in MLB, despite being nestled in a state riddled with coronavirus cases. Miami’s spring training complex, Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, is in nearby Jupiter, FL. This will be the team’s alternative training site

The majority of the players in the roster pool will report to Marlins Park for training. However, nearly 20 of them will instead make their way to Jupiter. The players assigned to Roger Dean are unlikely to make their MLB debut in 2020, but will see plenty of personal development.

Among the players reporting directly to Jupiter are: C Will Banfield, Bleday, Cabrera, Devers, Lewin Diaz, Encarnacion, Guzman, Holloway, RHP Humberto Mejia, Jesus Sanchez and Sixto Sanchez.

Having those prospects in Jupiter will allow the team to continue the training for them. Intra-squad games and practices will be allowed. This is especially valuable considering the likelihood of a minor-league season remains low.

First-round draft pitch Max Meyer will also be sent to Jupiter for the summer training camp. Four of the Marlins’ top prospects (Chisholm, Harrison, Neidert and LHP Alex Vesia) are among the 40 who’ll start training at Marlins Park.

 

2020 Marlins

5 Reasons to Watch the 2020 Marlins

MLB and the MLBPA finally got it together. The public had long since turned on billionaires and millionaires squabbling amid a global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment and pushes for social change and justice. Reports flooded out once the two sides agreed to a semblance of a season in 2020. Now, baseball fans can turn some of their attention to what was once the national pastime. And South Florida can support the 2020 Marlins, because, hey, you never know.

The Miami Marlins have struggled to find their footing in South Florida despite a pair of World Series championships. Years of incompetent ownership, boarding on villainous at times, gave way to a new group seeking to reshape the franchise’s fortunes.

The Marlins have transformed their operation, not only on the field but also in the community. The team sports a diverse set of voices from CEO Derek Jeter to GM Mike Hill and COO Caroline O’Conner. They’ve been active during the pandemic, participating in food distribution drives and other community outreach programs.

On the field, the Marlins are coming off a 105-loss season, but the future is bright. Heady trades and considered free agent signings have helped retool the farm system, which is now considered among the best in the league. The Major League product should be improved as well.

With a new season on the horizon, here are five reasons to watch the 2020 Marlins.

1 – 2020 Marlins Schedule Sprint

The schedule for the 2020 Marlins will be no joke. The team has amongst the most difficult schedules across baseball’s new landscape.

Miami will face their NL East counterparts 40 times. They’ll face AL East opponents the other 20. Last season, the Marlins posted a 24-52 record against the NL East. Their only winning mark came versus Philadelphia (10-9). The Marlins had losing records against Atlanta (4-15), the Mets (6-13) and Washington (4-15). Also, Miami was swept by the Tampa Bay Rays (0-4).

For 2020, this schedule will be a gauntlet. The defending champion Nationals may have lost their MVP candidate (Anthony Rendon), but they still sport three aces. The Braves built a strong team with stars. And the Phillies spent aggressively in free agency, while the Mets hold a loaded pitching staff.

Tampa Bay won 96 games in 2019 and sport three aces of their own. The Yankees have perhaps the deepest roster in the AL. Oh, and after winning 103 games, they added Gerrit Cole, who’s coming off a 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326-strikeout season.

Boston is retooling its roster and neither the Blue Jays nor the Orioles can say they’re more talented than Miami. That said, six teams on the Marlins schedule averaged 93 wins last season.

2 – 2020 Marlins Youth Movement

The Marlins have a talented young core. Those players are being paired with savvy veteran additions, while top-shelf prospects near the big leagues. All this combined for Miami’s manager, Don Mattingly to say the 2020 Marlins will “make some noise.”

Miami’s roster holds a number of young, capable players. Isan Diaz, Jorge Alfaro and Brian Anderson all look like foundational talents. The pitching staff sees the likes of all-star Sandy Alcantara take the hill every fifth start. Caleb Smith and Pablo Lopez demonstrate the depth of the rotation.

These players will soon be supplemented by prospects. Monte Harrison, Jazz Chisholm, Lewin Diaz and Jesus Sanchez are all nearing the bigs. Jerar Encarnacion and JJ Bleday, among others, are sharpening their skills in the minors and have bright futures.

Pitching prospects like Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett and the newly drafted Max Meyer have the franchise’s fortunes on the rise.

The team added utility sparkplug Jonathan Villar and outfielder Corey Dickerson to provide veteran leadership and production.

Although an expanded 30-man roster, which will be reduced as the season progresses, could see some of these prospects make their Major League debuts, it’s unlikely for most. Players will accrue a full year of service time in this abbreviated season. This may keep the Marlins from calling up some of these prospects in order to maintain an extra year of contract control.

3 – Universal DH

It’s a long time coming for the National League, but the Universal DH will finally be deployed across the baseball landscape. Although some purists see this as a negative, the Universal DH will certainly help the 2020 Marlins. (Here are 5 Reasons the Marlins Benefit from a Universal DH.)

Sure, the Marlins have had success in the past with pitchers at the plate, but not recently. Long gone are the days of Chris Hammond and Dontrelle Willis. Jose Fernandez connected on two career home runs, but it’s been more than four years since a Marlins pitcher hit one out.

Since 2015, Marlins pitchers rank 14th out of 15 NL teams in On-Base Percentage (.137) with over 1515 Plate Appearances. In addition, they sport the highest strikeout rate of all NL teams (45 percent).

Among the free agent signings for the Marlins this year, outfielder Matt Joyce and first baseman Jesús Aguilar could both fill this role. If Aguilar mans first base instead, Garrett Cooper could see time at DH. Signing veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli could also mean that Alfaro will get a break from catching duties for a turn at DH.

All of this can only help a lineup that connected on the fewest home runs and second-fewest runs scored in baseball last season.

4 – New Rules

One of the complaints against baseball has long been the games are too long. In recent years, MLB has instituted certain rules to accelerate the pace of play, including limiting the amount of mound visits a team can make. But playing without a clock means games could last for hours beyond the normal window of time.

This season, in an effort to reduce the number of pitching changes and, in turn, cut down the average time per game, MLB instituted a rule change that requires pitchers to either face a minimum of three batters in an appearance or pitch to the end of a half-inning, with exceptions for injuries and illnesses.

In addition, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that MLB will implement a rule in which extra innings games will feature innings starting with a runner on second base. This will expedite the ending of games given that the schedule will be so tight this year. Long games will create greater problems this year than they normally would.

The runner-on-second rule has been in place in the minors for two seasons. It premired in the World Baseball Classic, then was tested in the Gulf Coast and Arizona Leagues. In 2018, all minor leagues adopted it.

Under the rule, the runner at second will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the extra inning. So, usually, the player who made the last out in the previous inning or a pinch runner for that player. If the placed runner scored, it’s considered an unearned run.

The Marlins have decent speed up and down the lineup, and an expanded roster would mean even more speed for Mattingly to deploy. This could help the Marlins improve on 7-9 record in extras last year.

5 – You Never Know

An MLB team has gone from worst to first 13 times since 1990. Despite winning two World Series championships, the Marlins have never won the NL East. They might need to do so to ensure their postseason spot.

In their 27-year history, the Marlins had 11 years when they started the season’s first 60 games at .500 or better. Last season, their record at the 60-game mark was 23-37. Teams won’t have the luxury of a slow start to this season since it’s a sprint.

Washington went from a 19-31 record through 50 games last season to a World Series championship, so strange things have happened before. Even the expansion Florida Marlins had a 61-game stretch in 1993 where they won 30 games.

Unfortunately, MLB didn’t expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16, which had been discussed in prior iterations of the potential deal with the MLBPA. It’ll be three division winners plus two wild cards per league in the postseason.

For the 2020 Marlins, they’ll want to target 35 wins or so for a possible playoff berth. It won’t be easy, considering the schedule. If the Marlins find themselves out of contention as the trade deadline nears, they could flip some of their veteran talents, like Villar, Aguilar or new closer Brandon Kintzler, for prospects to help the rebuild.

Universal DH

5 Reasons the Marlins Benefit from a Universal DH

Amid the contentious talk of Major League Baseball playing its 2020 season is a rule change that some traditionalists object to: a Universal DH. While some National League teams would have roster work to do in order to address this contingency, the Miami Marlins are not among them.

The Designated Hitter (DH) is something the American League adopted in 1973, and now it appears as if the National League may add it in advance of the new collective bargaining agreement for 2022. Players know it can prolong careers, while general managers see it as an opportunity to prevent pitchers from unnecessary injury exposure in the batter’s box or on the base paths.

Recast in the light of this development, offseason moves from the Marlins now seem prescient. The addition of hitters like Jesus Aguilar and Matt Joyce, even Matt Kemp, point to potential candidates at the position.

Sure, the Marlins have had success in the past with pitchers at the plate, but not recently. Long gone are the days of Chris Hammond and Dontrelle Willis. Jose Fernandez connected on two career home runs, but it’s been more than four years since a Marlins pitcher hit one out.

Since 2015, Marlins pitchers rank 14th out of 15 NL teams in On-Base Percentage (.137) with over 1515 Plate Appearances. In addition, they sport the highest strikeout rate of all NL teams (45 percent).

Should MLB come to an agreement with the Players Association for a truncated 2020 season, and should that agreement include this rule change, here’s a look at five reasons a Universal DH will benefit the Marlins.

Universal DH: Helps Solve the Outfield Logjam

The Marlins have 10 players for three positions. Of those 10, one, either newly signed Jonathan Villar or the returning Brian Anderson, will man third base. Anderson is the odds-on favorite to start in right field. Free agent addition Corey Dickerson will probably patrol left, though Miami manager Don Mattingly may elect to sit Dickerson versus left-handed pitching.

That leaves seven players for one spot. Even with an expanded 30-man roster and a 20-man taxi squad, that’s too many outfielders to carry. But with a DH in the lineup, the likelihood of these players sticking with the club increases considerably

Harold Ramirez and Matt Joyce immediately become options for consistent plate appearances. Jon Berti can remain in a super-utility role, and Magneuris Sierra sees his chances of staying with the franchise improve dramatically. Sierra’s out of minor league options and would need to be traded or released if he doesn’t make the team.

This also means the battle for center field, between Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison among others, might not see the loser banished to Triple-A.

Universal DH: Frees Up First Base

When the Marlins claimed Jesus Aguilar off waivers this offseason, most took it as a signal that Garrett Cooper may be destined for the outfield or the bench. Although Aguilar will need a bounce-back season, the former All-Star put up the best numbers of his career while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018. In 149 games, he slashed .274/.352/.539 with 35 home runs and 108 RBI.

Injury struggles led Mattingly to imply, back in December, that Cooper’s not an everyday player. In 107 games last season, Cooper slashed .281/.344/.446 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI. He started 66 games at first, and 31 games in right, with two turns at DH.

One of these two is likely the everyday first baseman, while the other can man the DH spot. Matt Kemp saw some time at first during Spring Training, and, at this stage in his career, he profiles more at DH than outfield.

There’s also a longshot for a 23-year-old prospect Lewin Diaz to play first. The six-foot-four Diaz came to the Marlins from Minnesota as part of the Sergio Romo trade last year. He’s a lefty with plenty of pop in his bat.

Universal DH: Jorge Alfaro

Jorge Alfaro landed with the Marlins as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade, coming to Miami with pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart. In 2019, he connected on 18 home runs and drove in 57 runs over 130 games. Injuries affected Alfaro’s overall performance, but he showed promise handling the pitchers.

The addition of veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli, as well as the option to DH, should help Alfaro avoid some of the nagging injuries that wear on a catcher during a season, even a shortened one. Having Cervelli as a tutor should help Alfaro defensively, where he needs some improvement, and with calling a game.

Positioning Alfaro as DH and Cervelli as catcher immediately improves Miami’s defense. And while Cervelli isn’t known for his plate production, his 19.2 percent career-strikeout rate means he should put the ball in play more often than not.

James Rowson & the Future

Miami added James Rowson to Mattingly’s staff this offseason Not only will the former Minnesota Twins hitting coach be the Marlins bench coach, but he’ll also work with hitting coach Eric Duncan. These two have been tasked with developing a program to improve every level of the organization at the plate. And being from the AL, Rowson is very familiar with deploying a DH.

Last season, Rowson’s Twins hit a league-best 307 home runs. The Marlins? A paltry 146, a league worst. Minnesota sported one of the most potent offenses in MLB, and his signing with the Marlins may prove to be the best offseason addition of the year. The addition of a Universal DH will only aid in that development.

For the future, a prospect like Jerar Encarnación profiles well as DH. Encarnación was one of 13 Marlins prospects selected to participate in Captain’s Camp, and during Spring Training he flashed his potential power at the plate, connecting on an over 400-foot blast in his second at-bat. At 21-years-old, he could still use some minor league seasoning, but the DH spot may speed up his arrival to the bigs.

Yasiel Puig?

Yasiel Puig is on the record stating that the Marlins were among the teams to make him a contract offer. He rejected Miami’s advances, in part, because he wanted a bigger contract. Playing in a city with deep Cuban roots might mean fans would place unrealistic expectations on him.

Puig had an uneven 2019. Overall, he slashed .267/.327/.458 between stints in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Prior to the trade, Puig connected on 22 of his 24 homers for the year. But afterwards, his batting average and on-base percentages improved dramatically (.297/.377).

Having a DH slot would allow Miami to bring in this high-profile name to excite the fan base. If Puig performs well, once fans are allowed in again, there could be an attendance spike not seen since the days of Jose Fernandez on the mound.

CORONAVIRUS Sports Tracker: Frequent Updates

The widespread coronavirus outbreak has impacted professional and collegiate sports across the nation.

Most recent at the top….

Hey, finally some good news!

—-
THE MASTERS is now postponed. Could mark first time in history that the tournament is not played in April.


—-

THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP is now cancelled, along with every PGA event till the first week of April.

…..

Charles Barkley is among the latest to self-quarantine.

 

The Heat are working on something to help arena workers. More details to come.

 

Some NBA teams are doing the right thing.

 

Dwyane Wade doesn’t understand what the local school officials here are doing.

 

The XFL has caved. So much for the rebirth… for now.

 

It’s now infecting international soccer.

 

NBA will be suspended for 30 days.

Essentially that means the regular season is over.

 

Goodbye March Madness.

 

More details on the NBA coming soon.

 

Dan Gilbert is ahead of Micky Arison on something.

One league seems intent on outlasting all the others.

The entire ACC has postponed spring practice for all teams, which may also put the Hurricanes spring game in jeopardy.

 

Fans of the Marlins will have to wait a few extra weeks…

The American Airlines Arena has canceled all major events for the rest of March.

 

There will also be no NFL Spring meeting in Palm Beach for the time being.

 

 

The National Hockey League has suspended their season as well.

 

 

 

The Florida Atlantic University basketball season is over….

NFL now headed for a shutdown. Hard to see how free agency proceeds as scheduled…

So much for that InterMiami home debut.

Yes, it is already affecting prep for the NFL draft.

We are now waiting on the NHL.

A second NBA star has been diagnosed.

 

After it was learned Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, the NBA has suspended the season indefinitely.

 

The NCAA had already announced that all men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be held without fans.

 

Locally, besides the Miami Heat other sporting events are being cancelled or postponed including the upcoming Miami Open.

 

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.

 

Wearing Yelich’s jersey, Ryan Braun homers to secure sweep

In a way to honor a fallen teammate, Ryan Braun wore Christian Yelich’s jersey under his own and hit a two-run homer to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins on Thursday to secure the series sweep.

“I threw up the double deuces for him,” Ryan Braun said of his message to Yelich as he crossed home plate. “He texted me, “It’s about time you hit a homer.’ Forty-fifth homer hit in this jersey this year.”

It was Braun’s 19th home run this season but the former Miami Hurricane didn’t hit a single home run at Marlins Park (which opened in 2012) before his last game of the season in Miami.

“I didn’t know that, but they are all big at this time of year,” Braun said.

Brewers starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez also scored on the home run after getting his first hit of the season. The Marlins tried to appeal that he did not touch second base on the home run but was denied.

“I know I haven’t been on the bases but I’m 100 percent sure I touched that bag,” Gonzalez said. “It was a backhanded slap is how I felt. But it’s OK. I can smile about it.”

Gonzalez allowed two runs and seven hits in four innings while pitching in his hometown. The Brewers are 78-68 while riding a seven-game winning streak. They are 10 games over .500 for the first time since mid-June and are tied with the Chicago Cubs for the second wildcard spot.

“What’s within our picture is keep playing well,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The other stuff doesn’t matter right now. Keep playing like the past week we’re going to put ourselves in a good spot.”

The New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Arizona Diamondbacks are within 3.5 games. The Marlins will play all three on the road to close out the season, with a three-game home series with the Washington Nationals, who are on top of the wildcard chase.

Voices

Coronavirus and Sports: Becoming Numb

I was going to write about Inter Miami, I really was. Maybe it would have been an upbeat preview about the “MLS Is Back” schedule reveal (Breakfast with Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire at 9 a.m. on July 14, can you dig it?) or a more serious, ominous look at the league and its protocols as we are only 2 weeks away from the start of the first tournament in the United States after the pandemic.

But then I thought “AFTER the pandemic? We are barely during the pandemic, much less past it” and I discovered I’m sort of…detached? Nah, that’s not the word. I still follow the American sports landscape and want sports to be back. Shocked? That’s not it either, nothing that has happened the past three months has surprised me even a little, and that’s saying something. Numb? Yes, that’s it. I’m numb to the developments in the sports world nowadays, and I’m pretty sure other fans, writers and even players feel similarly.

I’m numb because I saw the news about 16 NBA players (the equivalent of an entire team’s roster, plus one) testing positive for COVID-19 and my reaction isn’t “Oh my, what if they backtrack and the season is cancelled?” It’s more like “I’m fine with whatever happens, I’m just waiting to see everyone freak out when a true superstar tests positive and [insert team here] has to play an entire series without him.”

I’m numb because “43 Division I teams have been eliminated in the last 12 weeks, and more than 130 programs have been cut across all NCAA levels”, and those kids weren’t earning millions of dollars, even as some of their coaches were and certainly their athletic departments are.

LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION

New Zealand is past the pandemic with tens of thousands gathering with joy to watch a rugby match most of them probably don’t remember the final score of. Europe is crowning champions as its cases are mostly going down (hello, Sweden, we see you) and fans celebrate the end of droughts in Liverpool and Naples as the ball keeps rolling with no apparent setbacks week after week.

Liverpool fans celebrate outside Anfield.

Even South America has soccer, but that’s because they don’t really give a shit in Brazil and they are bent on living like there is literally no tomorrow and they had the most new daily cases in the world on Thursday, June 25. Seems healthy.

Meanwhile, the United States of America is looking at itself in the mirror and wonders how it all went so wrong, so quickly after three months of sacrifices that were supposed to pave the way for sports to come back swiftly and smoothly.

We are Rachel and the Coronavirus is Ross asking: “OVER you? When were you UNDER me?” while we beat ourselves up wondering what went wrong and the President compares a deadly virus to the sniffles.

I’m numb because baseball is about to be back for a lightning round of games that promise to be exciting. Why am I not excited? I should be, with every game being three times as important and the potential of a repeat of that frantic 2011 finish of the regular season that gave every baseball fan a collective heart attack.

My heart rate is nowhere near skyrocketing, though. Some experts don’t even think the season will be able to finish.

I should be pumped to witness the start of the Tua era in Miami, but then I see that the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and the Steelers was cancelled and I’m bracing for what August and September might bring.

I’m even numb to the added crowd noise and the “virtual fans” we see at European soccer games. It’s background noise.

Maybe you read this and thought I spent 700 words being dramatic, and that’s ok. Maybe you will feel numb or jaded until 2021, and that’s ok too. Maybe this is just temporary, and everything feels a little alien after 100+ days of uncertainty and I will be all pumped up again in a couple of weeks when sports feel “real” again.

I will be waiting for that moment to come.