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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.

Marte Marlins

Marte Proves Himself Immediately for Marlins

Miami and Toronto squared off on Tuesday night, as Starling Marte made his Marlins’ debut and Jonathan Villar made his Blue Jays’ debut (against the Marlins). On Monday, the Marlins acquired Marte from the Diamondbacks, and he was in the lineup for Miami on Tuesday.

The new Marte-led Marlins bested the Blue Jays 3-2 after late-inning heroics by Marte himself. This game was extremely important for the Marlins (16-15). The Phillies (16-15) reached closer and closer to surpassing the Marlins for second place in the division.

The pitching looked solid on the Marlins end, as the bullpen pitched 7 innings of 1-run baseball after Elieser Hernandez left the game after just 2 innings pitched allowing 1 run on 2 hits. Josh A. Smith continues to pitch well going 4 strong innings to overcome the short start of Hernandez. Richard Bleier and James Hoyt combined to pitch 2 shutout innings. Brandon Kintzler picked up his 8th save in as many attempts.

Starling Marte Made Difference for the Marlins

Starling Marte, STARLING MARTE! In his first game with the Marlins, the veteran “star” showed up. He scored 2 of the Marlins 3 runs, one of which off of a Garrett Cooper RBI double and the other on a go-ahead solo bomb in the top of the 8th inning. The ball soared off his bat, leading to a no-doubter and an eventual Marlins’ win.

“I knew it was a home run when I hit it,” Marte said after the game. “The energy I felt with the bat, I knew it was gone.”

Jon Berti hit a solo shot earlier in the game as well, helping to propel the Marlins’ bats.

The Marlins (16-15) look to further this 2-game win streak tomorrow against Toronto (18-16), and sweep the two-game set. Sixto Sanchez (1-0, 2.25 ERA) takes the mound for the Marlins against Hyun Jin Ryu (2-1, 2.92 ERA) of the Blue Jays.

Starling Marte

The Starling Marte Trade – A Deeper Look at a Big Win For the Marlins

The Miami Marlins made some waves at the trade deadline, acquiring veteran outfielder Starling Marte and prospect Griffin Conine. Here’s a look at the deal.

What The Marlins Gave Up

Caleb Smith to Arizona

Caleb Smith has been a relatively consistent force in a previously weak Marlins starting rotation since being traded over from the Yankees. A 15-17 record and 4.39 ERA in his time with Miami wasn’t anything special, but the consistency was a nice addition to a struggling starting rotation. Smith struggled with injuries with the Marlins, especially this year. Due to COVID-19, Smith only made one start where he went 3 innings on 6 walks.

This loss would have hurt a rebuilding Marlins team, but once Smith came back, there was no guarantee that he would have found himself back in the rotation. Pablo Sanchez, Sixto Sanchez, Trevor Rogers, Sandy Alcantara, and Elieser Hernandez provide a core starting five unlike anything the Marlins have seen in a while. Smith was a perfect trade piece, and the Marlins knew that. Great move.

Humberto Mejia to Arizona

Humberto Mejia seemingly came out of nowhere. Signing as a free agent at 23 years old from Panama, Mejia made 3 starts for the marlins, sporting a 5.40 ERA over 10 IP. Similar to the Caleb Smith situation, Mejia had no place in the current rotation after the call ups of S. Sanchez and Rogers in combination with a healthy P. Sanchez, Hernandez, and Alcantara.

Mejia lacked the firepower of the other pitching products in the Marlins system, and because of that found himself rightfully on the trade block.

Julio Frias to Arizona

Frias signed in 2014 as an international free agent. He has a good left arm and good strikeout stuff, but hadn’t progressed past A-ball, and in an organization where starting pitching is not currently an issue (when the whole crew is healthy, of course), the marlins made another smart move.

Jonathan Villar to Toronto

Jonathan Villar came to Miami to be a veteran leader and playmaker at the top of the lineup. Halfway through this short season, Villar hasn’t necessarily lived up to expectations. With a relatively low batting average (.259) and on-base percentage (.315), Villar’s hitting prowess hasn’t lived up to expectations. He did lead the league in steals, but has been caught stealing 5 times in the process.

With expectations being lowered every night, the Marlins went out to make a change and get Starling Marte in comparison. I’ll take a look next as to why this trade-up may be just what the Marlins need to continue their run.

What The Marlins Got

Starling Marte to Miami

The 8-year Cuban veteran finds himself in Miami after being sent to Arizona to help them compete. The Diamondbacks were sellers at the deadline due to their recent losing streak, but Marte played no negative role in that. His .311/.384 split has been a stellar representation of the difference he brings to the table over Villar. He brings the same speed to the table, and is one of the best outfielders in the league. Past the numbers, what really stands out is his patience at the plate, something Villar lacked. He gets deep into counts, and is a stellar hitter when ahead in the count with a .424 average. Marte provides the same veteran leadership, the same speed, and better stats to back him up. The perfect trade-up for a team looking to make a run.

Griffin Conine to Miami

The Marlins got Mr. Marlin’s son! Looking past that amazing story, Conine will eventually provide a solid left-handed bat in a future Marlins lineup. For more info on Griffin Conine, check out David Fernandez’s trade-day article.

The Verdict

It might have been advantageous for the Marlins to go out and bolster their bullpen, but the front-office said the deals just weren’t there. Looking at this trade in particular, the Marlins won. That’s not to say the Diamondbacks didn’t win either, as they got 3 solid pitching products, and Toronto got Robbie Ray. The question to ask: was this trade enough to put the Marlins in a better position to win this year? Trading three pitchers who most likely would have seen bullpen time at best, to upgrade Jonathan Villar to Starling Marte is a deal the Marlins lucked into and would take any day of the week. We will see how it plays out, but it looks like a win right now.

Marlins trades

Marlins Making Moves at Trade Deadline

The Miami Marlins entered Monday’s Trade Deadline day at 14-15 but clinging to an NL playoff spot. The recent four-game losing skid, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, put into focus the shortcomings of the squad.

As the team traveled to New York to face the Mets in a makeup game for last Friday’s walk off protest, the Marlins knew they had their hands full. Two-time Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom awaited them, making his fourth consecutive start versus Miami. A loss risked Miami’s playoff position and a lengthy losing streak.

With that as the backdrop, the Marlins not only scored a rousing comeback win over the Mets, the but the team completed a pair of trades for the playoff push.

Marlins and Mets Game

The trades unfolded as the game entered the middle innings. The Marlins were down 2-0 to the Mets, with deGrom dealing. But Marlins rookie starting pitcher Trevor Rogers hung in, limiting the damage New York’s potent offense tried to levy.

The first trade hit Twitter after 3 PM. The Marlins brokered a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks for speedy veteran outfielder Starling Marte. Miami gave up LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later. It was reported afterward that the PTBNL was Single-A reliever RHP Julio Frias.

Then, in the fifth inning, with the Mets on the verge of adding further cushion to deGrom’s lead, Rogers induced a pop fly that Jonathan Villar corralled with an over-the-shoulder catch. It would prove to be Villar’s final play as a Marlin.

Cameras caught Marlins manager Don Mattingly speaking with Villar after pinch-hitting Jon Berti. Villar simply nodded. From there, the Marlins offense erupted for four runs off deGrom, including a Garrett Cooper home run and a Lewin DiazRBI double.

Marlins Trades

It was revealed on Twitter, and on the broadcast, that Villar had been dealt to Toronto for a Player to be Named Later. Villar played all 30 games for the Marlins this season with inconsistent results.

Seen as a difference maker as a lead-off hitter, Villar managed just a .259 batting average and .315 on-base percentage. Although he led the National League with nine stolen bases, Villar also led MLB with five caught-stealing attempts. That 64.5 percent rate, and the fact that he’d been picked off multiple times, just wasn’t good enough.

There was a reckless nature to Villar’s play as a Marlin. He regularly swung at first pitches and hit just .268 as a leadoff hitter. He was only 6-for-33 with runners-in-scoring-position. Defensively, Villar couldn’t cut it in centerfield and was just okay at second base.

In return, it’s being reported that the Marlins are getting Griffin Conine, the 23-year-old son of former Florida Marlin Jeff Conine.

Mr. Marlin’s Son Comes Home

Griffin Conine was selected by the Blue Jays with the 52nd overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft, one spot ahead of Miami’s second-round slot. Some believe the Marlins would have drafted him then, had he fallen to their slot.

Conine injects another power bat into Miami’s farm system. After a 50-game suspension for the banned stimulant Ritalin, Conine found some success in the Low-A Midwest League last season. He hit .282 with a .947 OPS, slugging 22 home runs and 64 RBI.

A left-handed hitter, Conine’s power does come with the threat of the strikeout. He whiffed 125 times over 348 plate appearances, which isn’t great. He’s capable of driving the ball to all fields, thanks to his bat speed and physical strength. He’s not a speedster by any stretch, but he sports a solid arm defensively.

“If I had to rank [my tools], power would be No. 1, for sure,” Conine said in an interview with MLB.com in March. “Arm would be No. 2, for sure, and after that, it’s kind of a toss up. Speed would be on the lower end, [No. 5] maybe. I don’t think I’m slow, but defense is above that. Glove would be better than speed, and the hit [tool] is probably better than the glove. They can get better.”

A Plantation, FL native who attended Pine Crest high school in Fort Lauderdale, Conine has Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill “incredibly exicted,” although Hill can’t officially say the son of Niner is on the squad.

Other Notes from Marlins Trade Deadline Day

Hill met with Marlins media after Monday’s rousing comeback win over the Mets. He talked through the different deals and praised the team’s grit and fight.

“Our goal is not just to win one year,” Hill said, “it’s to win year in and year out.”

Hill admitted to exploring the bullpen market for the team but couldn’t find anything reasonable. “We weren’t going to mortgage our future,” he said.

Hill called the acquisition of Marte something that “takes pressure off the young guys” and adds to the “middle of the order.” He called Marte a “solid, dependable, everyday bat” and said “I don’t think you give up what we gave up for a 30-day rental.”

Marte is under contract through 2021.

Hill also revealed that Isan Díaz has reported to the team’s Jupiter training complex. Diaz has applied for reinstatement and is currently working out at the team facility. Diaz will soon be reinstated by the MLB/MLBPA joint committee.

Marlins Starling Marte

Meet the Marlins: Starling Marte

The Miami Marlins entered MLB’s 2020 Trade Deadline day looking to be opportunistic. The team currently holds a playoff spot, something that haven’t been able to say since 2003. Their 17-year playoff drought is the second-longest current span in MLB. To make that playoff push, the Marlins reportedly acquired veteran outfielder Starling Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The deal, which saw LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Humberto Mejia and Class-A LHP Julio Frias go to Arizona, came on the same day the team traded away Jonathan Villar. Marte adds a solid right-handed bat with speed to the Marlins lineup.

Meet the Marlins: Starling Marte

A 9-year veteran, Marte signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. Marte moved quickly through the Pirates’ system and made his MLB debut in 2012.

In eight years with Pittsburgh, Marte played mostly left field and earned an All-Star berth in 2016. He’s earned two Gold Gloves in his career and left Pittsburgh after seven-straight seasons with at least 20 steals, including five over 30 and two over 40.

After his trade to Arizona, Marte moved primarily to centerfield. He’s been a productive bat for the Diamondbacks, despite the team’s struggles. He came over to bolster the lineup of a potential contender but that never came to fruition for Arizona.

In 2020, Marte’s slash line is .311/.384/.443, and his OPS stands at .827. Versus left-handed pitching, something the Marlins have struggled with this season, he’s hitting .379 with a .920 OPS. Marte’s been really good with runners in scoring position, hitting .300 with a .753 OPS. And when he’s ahead in the count, he’s been awesome: .424 batting average and 1.346 OPS.

The Marlins have Marte under contract through 2021, as his contract contains a $12.5MM club option (a $1 million buyout for 2021). His addition to the lineup will replace whatever speed was lost in the Villar trade. Marte immediately becomes one of Miami’s best bats and should be a difference maker in the field.

Leaving the Marlins are Smith, Mejia and a Single-A reliever prospect.

Smith, Mejia and Frias Sent to Arizona

The Marlins acquired Smith from the New York Yankees in 2017, along with Garrett Cooper, for RHP Mike King. Over two seasons (and one start in 2020) with the Marlins, Smith 15-17 4.39 ERA over 233.2 IP and 45 starts. He had a 1.245 WHIP and looked like a dominant power lefty at times.

Smith, though, lost time to injuries during his time with the Marlins. He landed on the 60-day IL in 2018 with left shoulder tightness. In 2019, hip inflammation landed him on the IL as well. In 2020, Smith lost time to COVID-19.

Humberto Mejia surprised many with his performance in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Mejia made three starts for the Miami, ultimately posting a 5.40 ERA over 10 IP. His record was 0-2, but he didn’t give up more than three runs in any start.

At 23-years-old, Mejia signed as an amateur free agent out of Panama. He wasn’t anywhere near as heralded as some of the other pitching prospects in the system, but he showed promise. That promise may have been what led to this trade coming together.

Julio Frias signed as an international free agent with the Marlins in 2014. At 22-years-old, Frias sports a power lefty arm and has solid strikeout numbers but hasn’t pitched above Low-A.