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Marlins vs Rays Takeaways

Miami Marlins baseball is back! On Opening Weekend, the Fish found themselves slated against the defending AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays. Although the Marlins dropped 2 of the 3 games at home, there is a lot to be excited about in Miami going forward in 2021. Here are my main takeaways from the first weekend of Marlins baseball:

 

Marlins Pitching

With high amounts of well-deserved hype surrounding the Marlins young pitching staff, they somehow exceeded expectations. Let’s take a look at the 3 starters who got the ball this weekend and the revamped bullpen.

Sandy Alcantara

Sandy proved his ace status this weekend, pitching 6 strong innings giving up just 2 hits and no runs. He dominated an extremely potent Rays lineup on Opening Day, leaving the game tied up 0-0 going into the 7th. He looked to be in midseason form, as he generated 7 strikeouts during his outing and 15 strikes swinging. It’s a shame such a masterpiece had to go down as a no-decision, but his counterpart Tyler Glasnow pitched just as well. If Sandy continues to pitch on this level, the Marlins will be in great shape going forwards

Pablo Lopez

Pablo Lopez is not a flashy pitcher, but he gets the job done continuously. Much like Sandy, Pablo shut down the Rays over his 5 innings of work, allowing 0 runs on 2 hits with 4 strikeouts. I would have liked to have seen him work for another inning or two, but with the Marlins held scoreless through 14 innings at the time, the pinch hitter seemed almost necessary. If Pablo can pitch past the 5th inning consistently this season, he will show his continued development as a number 2 man on a playoff team in the future. 

Elieser Hernandez

Hernandez allowed 2 runs in his 2.1 innings on a 2-run bomb off the bat of Mike Zunino. A simple cross up between Wallach and Hernandez allowed this to happen the pitch before, so his actual pitching isn’t too worrisome. What is worrisome is that he left the game early due to bicep inflammation. It is unclear how long he will be out due to this injury, but hopefully he can get back to his normal form soon.

Bullpen

Oh boy. The “revamped” Miami bullpen is the sole reason this team is not 2-1. In their combined 10.2 innings of work, they have allowed 11 runs, including the 4-run blown save by Anthony Bass in game 2. Look, these numbers aren’t great, but it is not too alarming. It takes time for a bullpen to become a cohesive unit, especially when most of the guys are in new situations. On a positive note, after poor performances in their first outings, Yimi Garcia and Anthony Bass bounced back in their next games. As they settle in, this bullpen will get more and more stable as time progresses.

 

Marlins Hitting

In what seemed to be a flashback to the early Miami days, the Marlins were shutout for the first 14 innings of the 2021 season. Their offensive struggles seemed to carry right on over from 2020. In the 6th inning of Friday’s ballgame they finally woke up. So much so, that the Marlins actually outscored the Rays 16-14 through the 3-game series. Starling Marte, Jazz Chisholm, and Garrett Cooper led the way. 

Marte

After going 0-4 with 4 (!!!) strikeouts on Opening Day, Starling Marte showed why he is the main bat in this lineup. In games 2 and 3 he went 7-10 striking out 0 times. A full season of Starling Marte means a full season of games like these. He has been this player his entire career and will be the backbone of this offensive force going forwards.

Chisholm

The blue-haired phenom. The face of a young Marlins team. Jazz Chisholm may be 2 for 10 to start the season, but his impact is much greater than what is visible on the stat sheet. He brings energy to a lineup that was previously lacking. He fits in with the small ball mentality Mattingly continues to utilize (evident through his magical trip around the bases on Saturday night). As he continues to get more at-bats and become more and more comfortable as an every day MLB player, the sky’s the limit.

Cooper

After all of the controversy regarding how Cooper would fit in the lineup going into this season, he made his name known on Saturday. A very poor performance Friday night in which he left 5 runners on-base going 0-4 with a K started his season on a bad note; however, on Saturday we saw the real Garrett Cooper: 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs and a solo homer. The decision at first base may get tougher and tougher if he continues to produce like this. 

 

Outlook for Marlins

 

Regardless of the result, the Marlins look better than expected. The lineup looks strong, the starting pitching is as advertised, and the bullpen is developing. They went head-to-head with one of the best teams in baseball and completed all 3 games.

 

Now, the Marlins look forward to a 3-game set against the Cardinals. The Fish start Trevor Rogers, Sandy Alcantara, and Pablo Lopez versus the Cardinals’ Ponce de Leon, John Gant, and Jack Flaherty. With an extremely tough schedule lined up at home versus Saint Louis, and away against the Mets and Braves, this will prove to be the first test of many. The “Bottom Feeders” will be ready.

 

Follow me on twitter @chasechrisjr for more Miami Marlins coverage.

Marlins Season Preview

Spring Training is finally coming to a close, and the fresh breath of new life enters MLB clubs around the league. The Miami Marlins enter April baseball with chips on their shoulders. Each player has individually expressed that this squad has something to prove: that they are here to contend. The atmosphere around Major League Baseball suggests that no one believes the Marlins were quite good enough to be in a legitimate NLDS series. Last year, those claims were well-founded, as a young Marlins roster overperformed statistically and utilized a small sample size of games to sneak into the playoffs. With a revamped roster, Miami looks to stun the baseball world again, or at least prove that they aren’t one-hit wonders. 

 

Here is a preview of what Miami will bring to the table in 2021:

 

Electric Young Arms

It is no surprise that this tops the list. The Marlins look to bring a top-5 rotation into the 2021 season, headed by Sandy Alcantara. With Sixto Sanchez starting his year in the minors, the definitive rotation consists of Sandy, Pablo Lopez, Elieser Hernandez, Trevor Rogers. These exceptionally talented young arms improve with each outing and will be the most well-rounded pitching core the Marlins have seen in years. With 3/4 of these arms (and 4/5 once Sixto is back) coming off fresh Postseason experience, there is even more experience to go on. Sandy, Pablo, and Sixto are all dark-horses to win the NL Cy Young and look poised to lead the Marlins to many victories throughout the season. Expect an electric win-filled year from these arms.

 

Stable Backend Bullpen Arms

 

The Marlins have not had a surplus of arms in years. With timely trades and signings, the Miami bullpen is a force to reckon with going into this season. Anthony Bass and Yimi Garcia, two solid righties, cement the backend of the rotation, and hope to be as effective as the Garcia/Kintzler combination was last year. Unlike 2020, however, there is a solid middle of the bullpen to look forward to. Dylan Floro, John Curtiss, and Richard Bleier provide stability in the middle innings in games where the young arms reach their pitch limit. With multiple members of this bullpen posting sub-3 ERAs throughout their careers, expect the bullpen to be one of the most successful Miami has seen.

 

High Potential Bats

 

Since the illustrious trades of Stanton, Yelich, and Ozuna, it has been no secret that the Marlins couldn’t contend on the offensive end. Last year, although successful, was no different. This year may be different. The Marlins field 8 guys, 6 of whom have had above-league-average years at the plate. Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Adam Duvall, Jesus Aguilar, Miguel Rojas, and Brian Anderson make up this list, with each trending upwards throughout their respective careers. Jorge Alfaro and Jazz Chisholm are the two bats in the everyday lineup without past success, but both have high upsides that can push them over the top. Also keep in mind that the Marlins first man out, Garrett Cooper, is statistically this team’s second best hitter. For the first time since the trades, the Marlins have an above average offensive core.

 

Overall for Marlins

 

This Marlins team will surprise some people. I predicted halfway through Spring Training that this Marlins team would make the playoffs, and I am sticking to my guns. After a month of watching and covering this team, it is clear that last year was no fluke. Whether or not they make the playoffs this year, there will be exciting baseball and many wins in Miami for years to come.

 

For more, check out “Marlins on Tap” sponsored by Biscayne Brewing Company on the Five Reasons YouTube channel.