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5 Takeaways from a week of Marlins Baseball

The Miami Marlins took two out of three versus the first place New York Mets this weekend, cementing their place in the NL East. They now stand only 2 games behind the Mets, with another division rival in the Phillies looming this week. The Fish are now 53-53 over their last 106 games, proving that last year was not a fluke. As Jazz Chisholm said, “[The Marlins] have the most swag in baseball.” The pieces are finally coming together. 

 

Here’s 5 key takeaways from a successful weekend of baseball:

 

Cody Poteet deserves the rotation spot

 

After being called up from Triple-A for a spot start versus the Diamondbacks a little over a week ago, Poteet has dominated. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, which results in low strikeout numbers, but he gets outs: and a lot of them. He now has a 1.06 ERA through his 3 starts, and he is the second Marlins starter in history to not allow 3 runs through his first 3 starts (the other is now-Met Jordan Yamamoto, who he beat today). Poteet was quoted after the game saying, “You never know when your last day in the MLB is going to be.” As of now, he shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

 

Garrett Cooper found his swing

 

Cooper has struggled to start the season, and for an injury-riddled Marlins, this was a source of early panic. Clearly, any doubt was premature, as Coop has not only started to hit for average again, but also hit the long ball. He homered to tie the game in game 1 of the Mets series and hit a 2-run walk-off homer in game 2. Last year, he had the 2nd best OPS on the Marlins, and his bat is essential if the Marlins want to make a run for the playoffs. 

 

Sandy, Pablo, Trevor

 

Guys. I’m taking these three guys over anyone at the moment. With Poteet emerging as a strong option, and Sixto and Elieser in the wings, we could be looking at the best rotation in baseball. 

 

Sandy Alcantara struggled in LA, but bounced back with a dominating performance versus the Phillies. 6 innings, 9 strikeouts, no runs. His ERA is at a 3.63, and without the one bad performance versus the Dodgers, would be much lower. 

 

You have to feel for Pablo Lopez. It has felt like every outing he has had throughout this season, he has deserved the win. Last night versus the Mets was no different. 7 IP, 8 strikeouts, no runs. And still, the Marlins found a way to give him the no decision. He has been brilliant, per usual, lowering the ERA to 2.73.

 

Trevor Rogers: the unexpected ace and frontrunner for NL Rookie of the Year and Cy Young. It feels like every time he takes the mound, the Marlins are going to win. Unlike the other two stars, the Marlins have had no trouble giving him run support. His win versus Philadelphia improved him to 6-2 on the year with a 1.74 ERA. Wow.

 

And Sixto Sanchez isn’t even here yet.

 

Bullpen woes?

 

In the Phillies and Mets series, the Fish lost 2 games. Both losses can be credited to the bullpen; however, there is no reason to get stressed about it. Bullpens have off nights, and you have to deal with them throughout the course of a season. It is when those off nights become consistent that an issue arises. The Marlins bullpen has been relatively dominant on every other night. 

 

Floro, Bass, Garcia, and the boys have given the Marlins great innings over the past few weeks and are doing exactly what is needed from them. Floro had one bad outing that cost the Marlins a win in Philly, but that came after a multitude of good ones that led to wins. The bullpen loss on Friday was more due to running out of options than a failure on the bullpen’s end of things. As Anthony Bass comments on seemingly every Miami Marlins Instagram post, “Keep the faith. I promise we will figure this out.”

 

This squad is NOT a fluke

 

For anyone who has tuned into my coverage of the Marlins over the past year or so, you know that I am very upfront about how I believed last season to be the lucky result of a small sample size. 

 

With the 46 games played this season, the Marlins are now 53-53 in their last 106. Maybe, just maybe, the Marlins were no fluke last season and were actually a .500 team that benefitted from an extended playoffs. What does that mean for this year?

 

Well, it means that the Marlins can get to the playoffs: this time by winning the NL East. In an extremely condensed division that is separated in total by 2.5 games, it is anyone’s to win.

 

Why not the Marlins?

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Miami Marlins May Flop in Stacked NL East

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

 

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

 

Statistics

 

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

 

Offense

 

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

 

Marlins Rebuild

 

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

 

Overall

 

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

 

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Marlins Playoff Odds Decreasing

Honestly, I think we are all getting worried. The Marlins 9-4 loss last night versus the Braves marks their 4th straight loss in must-win games. The Fish fall to 28-28 and the Phillies climb to 28-29. This means that a Marlins loss tonight would even up the Phillies and Marlins, as the Phillies do not play. The Wild Card seems unlikely as well because the Giants and the Reds both sit a game above .500. Let’s first analyze last’s nightmare before we take a look at possible ways the Marlins can still pull this off.

 

Last 4 games we took an L, but tonight we bounce back… hopefully

 

The Marlins went into last night with Sixto on the mound. Most of us expected a low scoring pitching battle between Cy Young candidate Max Fried and our gunslinging young ace. Instead, Sixto allowed 4 runs over 3 innings, and Max Fried left the game after just 1 inning (injury) allowing 2 runs. The Marlins just can’t outhit this Braves lineup, so if the pitching falters, we lose, as seen in all 3 of these games. Josh A. Smith got the loss, allowing 5 runs in his 1 inning of work, allowing the Braves to turn a 4-4 tie into a 9-4 lead. Sadly, this showing from the Marlins in this game and others recently have highlighted a central issue within the team: their youth. It was hidden at the younger points of the season behind our new veterans, but as the season is coming to a close, it is evident that this team just may not be ready. We can’t expect all of our young guys to play like Tyler Herro. And that’s okay.

 

Playoff Possibilities

 

At this point, the only thing the Marlins should be worried about is getting 2nd in the NL East. The Wild Card seems like a pipe dream the way we are playing when put in contrast to the way the Reds and Giants are playing. Let’s instead take a look at what has to happen to get 2nd in the East. 

 

The Phillies are 28-29. The Marlins are 28-28. The tiebreaker would be the season head-to-head, in which the Marlins are up 7-3. We just have to tie the Phillies. The Phillies have 3 games versus the Tampa Bay Rays. If they go 3-0, we must go 3-1. If they go 2-1, we must go 2-2. If they go, 1-2, we must go 1-3. If they get swept, we can lose all 4. The Marlins clubhouse wants to control their own destiny though, and that can be done by winning 3 or more games in their final 4. The magic number is still 3, and we all know it.

 

Marlins vs Braves Finale

 

The Marlins look to salvage one win versus the Braves tonight as Pablo Lopez takes on Ian Anderson at 7:10 pm. This is shaping to be a fun last weekend of baseball. It all comes down to this.

Marlins Magic Number at 3

No, the Marlins did not win. No, they did not even come close. Another blowout win for the Braves puts the Marlins run differential at -37. Granted that differential is being dragged down by the 4 games in which the Marlins have been obliterated. Luckily, and most importantly, the Marlins’ magic number drops to 3, with 5 games remaining. The Phillies lost both games of their doubleheader versus the Nationals. 

Mattingly isn’t worried

 

“Once you get in with this format that we have — you know if you get in and you have pitching, you have a chance,” said Mattingly after last night’s tough loss. Even though there have been a few outlier games, Pitching has been the most consistent aspect of this team. Tomorrow, the Marlins’ present and future ace Sixto Sanchez takes the mound. Mattingly seems at ease because if the Marlins do make the postseason, Sixto, Sandy, and Pablo are a very dangerous 1-2-3 punch. Urena faltered last night, allowing 4 earned over 6 innings of work, but he is a perfect 4th in the rotation: a veteran with good stuff. It will be interesting to see who gets the 5th spot. Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers serve as the most likely choices, but both have had their recent struggles. If this team can push itself into the postseason, a hot pitching streak could push them further.

5 games left

 

5 games determine if the Marlins break the 17-year long streak without a playoff appearance. I have not consciously experienced a Marlins’ playoff game because I was about 2 years old during the ‘03 run. After years of season tickets, thousands of games on TV, and hundreds of thousands of MLB.TV updates, I am ready. The Marlins are ready. It is time for them to buckle down and win 3 of these games and prove that this team is capable of the improbable. Miami is ready to see their baseball team actually compete. Sixto leads the charge tonight.

Marlins vs Braves, Phillies vs Nationals

 

Yes, we have Sixto on the mound; but the Braves have their Cy Young candidate Max Fried. Game 3 will be no easier than games 1 and 2. The Fish are going to have to wake up their slumbering bats and put together good at-bats to get there. The Phillies play the Nationals again. Every Phillies’ loss is a Marlins’ win, so pay attention to both games. Marlins play the Braves at 7:10 PM and the Phillies take on the Nationals at 6:05 PM.

Marlins Lose to Braves 5-4

The Marlins played in the first game of a huge 4-game series with the Braves last night. They ended up losing the game 5-4, but their grit was evident throughout the game.  They moved closer to a playoff berth, as the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies. This keeps the Marlins in 2nd place in the NL East with 6 games remaining in the year. The 6 most important games in 15 years of Marlins’ baseball.

 

Explosive start, slow ending

 

The Marlins came out swinging in this game. 3 early runs on a bunch of singles put the Marlins in an advantageous position, but they failed to capitalize the rest of the way only putting up 1 more run. The biggest missed opportunity came with Starling Marte at the plate in the 8th, as he lined a 111 MPH swing straight to Austin Riley to get the Braves out of a bases-loaded jam. This rocket off the bat had a 74% chance of being a hit and giving the Marlins the lead. The Fish stalled out in the 9th after Monte Harrison got caught trying to take an extra base. It was the right move, but Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson just made the better play.

 

Trevor Rogers struggles

 

Trevor Rogers was given a 3 run 1st inning lead to work with. That lasted a whole 2 outs in the bottom half, as he allowed 4 runs on a bunch of hits and walks. It was reported that in his last start, Rogers was tipping pitches, and maybe that was the case initially last night. Rogers can be a very strong piece of the Marlins’ young rotation if he figures it out. He has the stuff.

 

Marlins vs the World

 

I have talked repeatedly about the importance of these last 6 games. Tomorrow, veteran Jose Urena gets a crack on the mound in a game “that matters.” Jose Urena starts tomorrow versus Bryse Wilson of the Braves. It’s up to this Marlins squad to do the unthinkable. Can they do it?

 

Marlins Move to 2nd in East

Six games later, the Marlins took a 4-2 series lead on the Phillies in this 7-game series, moving to 23-21 on the year. This pushes the Marlins to 8-2 in double-header games and propels them into the 2nd place spot in the division. Regardless, they are currently in a good playoff spot with only 16 games remaining this season. 

Oh boy, the pitching

On Sunday, we took another good look at Sixto Sanchez and our first look at Braxton Garrett. Wow. Sixto pitched a 1-run complete game en route to a 1-run win. What continues to impress me is his ability to pitch to contact in stressful situations. 100 MPH plus craftiness is in most cases untouchable. Sixto looks more like the future of Miami Marlins baseball every time he steps on the mound. Sixto’s dominance may have overshadowed Braxton Garrett’s first start, although it shouldn’t have. Braxton (our 2016 first-round pick) went 5 innings, allowing only 1 earned run on 3 hits, striking out 6. I have repeatedly mentioned both the current strength of this rotation, as well as the future strength. This outing hopefully signifies another addition to what is shaping to be one of the best rotations in baseball.

Can’t lose when the pitching allows 1 run

The pitching gave the hitting a big cushion most of these two games, whereas normally the opposite happens. Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte’s RBI singles were enough to get the job done in game 1, but the bats broke it wide open in game 2. The whole squad put together nice at-bats, with the icing on the cake being Chad Wallach’s first homer of the year. 

Special shoutout to Brian Anderson for making a Manny Machado-Esque play at third base. Braxton Garrett’s reaction was priceless. 

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Secure the bag.

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Looking ahead for the Marlins

The Marlins are now 2nd in the division, but obviously this could be short-lived as the Marlins play the Phillies today again at 4:10 pm. Pablo Lopez (3-4, 4.50 ERA) takes the mound for the Marlins against Vince Velasquez (0-0, 5.85 ERA) of the Phillies.

Marlins Walkoff Win the Day After Meltdown

“Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back.” – Big Sean, The Marlins

After one of the most embarrassing defeats in baseball history in which the Atlanta Braves slaughtered (that’s probably the best word) the Fish 29-9, the Marlins picked up the pieces and won a close game at home versus Philadelphia. They fell down early and trailed 6-3 late into the game before a 3-run double by Starling Marte tied it up. Jorge Alfaro’s walk-off single in the 9th sealed the 7-6 comeback win. Grit. Determination. Culture. This team is showing their true colors.

Sandy was slightly sloppy but still good

Despite the 6 runs allowed, Sandy actually fought pretty well last night. Only 3 of those 6 were earned and he only walked 2 through 6 innings pitched. Alcantara will be one of the most important pieces the rest of the way, as him getting back to ace shape will push the Marlins to the finish line. Nick Vincent, Richard Bleier, and Yimi Garcia were brilliant in their 3 combined innings, not allowing any runs to keep the marlins in the game. Only 3 earned runs in nine innings feels a lot better than 27. 

Marlins bats are woke

I feel like the Marlins picked up on my constant mentioning of the statistic that said they hadn’t scored 4 or more runs in more than 3 games in a row all season. The streak is now at 7. Continually, we are seeing an increase in the level of quality at-bats the Marlins are putting together. Most notably, they worked deep into counts versus Jake Arrieta last night, forcing him out of the game relatively early in the 6th inning. Starling Marte continues to deliver, as his 3-run double tied the game in the 8th and gave the Marlins a chance to win.

6 more versus the Phils

This is the most important series of the Marlins season. It is as simple as that. Being only .5 GB of the Phillies for the 2nd place spot means that series win means more than ever. The Marlins and Phillies play in a doubleheader today. Game 1’s starters are Trevor Rogers (1-0, 3.00 ERA) and Aaron Nola (4-3, 2.74 ERA). Neither team has announced their game 2 starters.

 

Logan Morrison returned to Miami as a rival

Former Miami Marlin Logan Morrison returned to his old stomping grounds to find the place completely redone. He returned as a member of the rival Philadelphia Phillies during a Players’ Weekend series.

“It looks great,” Morrison said of the new-look Marlins Park, “more uniform, classy. I like it.”

Morrison was the Austin Dean of a previous era, a fan favorite who played both left field and first base. He was on the 2012 Opening Day lineup when the Marlins open the new ballpark against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.

“A couple of things I remember fondly enough was the awesome energy, the electricity, sold-out crowd,” Morrison said, “being able to get a hit in that game was cool. It was fun, man.”

Morrison played on the Marlins during their first two seasons at Marlins Park (2012-13), a time when the record books were being established. At one time he hit the second furthest home run in Marlins Park, but he played with a certain slugger named Giancarlo Stanton, so it was only a matter of time before that changed.

“Now he has like 18 of the farthest 19 home runs and I’m like 19th or 20th,” Morrison said with a chuckle.

Logan Morrison and his Marlin moments

Logan Morrison was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Carter Capps in the offseason leading up to the 2014 season. He hit a career-high 38 home runs and 85 RBI for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017 but a disappointing, injury-riddled 2018 season with the Minnesota Twins that ended with hip surgery in August found him out of the loop throughout the offseason.

“The thing was I was healthy and I was playing every day,” Morrison said. “I had the opportunity to do it and I was healthy. Last year I was hurt, probably shouldn’t have been playing, didn’t have the year I wanted to have.”

The New York Yankees signed Morrison to a minor league contract after spring training and his season didn’t begin until May in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He slashed .289/.341/.658 with 15 home runs in 43 games and was picked up by the Phillies after the Yankees granted his release on the fourth of July.

Morrison said he started to, “feel like himself” in Triple-A prior to making it back to the big leagues with the Phillies. The role he has there now is similar to what fellow former Marlins Justin Bour had a year ago, a first base bat off the bench. Even if Morrison was back to his 2017 form, we wouldn’t know with his current role.

“At the end of the day, you’re not going to be putting up those kind of numbers without 500 at-bats,” Morrison said.

Morrison has gone 3-for-12 since being called up to Philadelphia. His lone appearance in this series came as a pinch hitter and resulted in a strikeout.

 

Visit the voices or news section for more Marlins coverage.

JT Realmuto knows comeback to Miami will be quiet

JT Realmuto will play for the first time in his career against the Miami Marlins.

However, he doesn’t expect much of a revolution in Marlins Park’s stands today when he steps up to the plate.

The All-Star catcher knows it will be a quiet atmosphere.

The best hitting catcher in baseball, along with Buster Posey and Willson Contreras, who crushed two balls out of Wrigley Field today, knows Miami and the fans here.

Will he get a big ovation? Probably not.

And not because he doesn’t deserve it, because he does, but because as usual, Marlins Park will look like an empty mall (which doesn’t happen here in Miami).

“It will be just like any other at-bat. I don’t expect too much out there for me,” were Realmuto’s words before the first of the three-game series between the Marlins and Phillies.

Miami struggled a lot swinging the bats during the road trip, scoring only eight runs in six games, getting swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

But for Realmuto, life is beautiful right now. He forgot about playing for the losing Miami Marlins and is finally playing for a competitive team.

There, with Bryce Harper and company, he is having the opportunity to play in a pennant race.

Harper wanted him in Washington, as he publicly confessed, and he even whispered a couple of times in Realmuto’s ear when he was a member of the Washington Nationals.

Now, they can both be happy slugging for a city that loves baseball and supports their team.

 

JT Realmuto’s comeback to Little Havana will get most of the headlines, but we will come back to reality soon  to realize this team had the best catcher in baseball, the best outfielders in baseball and the best pitcher in baseball at some point, and the stands were empty.

Good luck to Sandy Alcántara tonight, by the way.

 

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