Marlins can’t keep stalling on finding a backstop

The Marlins have a catching problem. There’s an issue catching the Fish. The old bait and hook isn’t working. Whichever aquatic metaphor you prefer, the Marlins have an issue behind the plate.

They are currently deploying a rotation duo of Nick Fortes and Jacob Stallings, who are combined for a league worst .438 OPS, which has a league worst .211 SLG. That is, to put it lightly, horrendous. With a .227 OBP, that means that 77.3% of the time, that position is an automatic out. If you’re a competing ballclub, you do not want to have a spot in your lineup that is an automatic out. Let’s take a look at their current duo and see if there’s any in house options.

Let’s take a deeper look at the main culprit behind the catching woes, Jacob Stallings. Stallings, a 33 year old catcher, came over to Miami in a trade in the 2022 offseason, which sent the outfield prospect Connor Scott, the starting pitcher prospect Kyle Nicolas, and the starting pitcher Zack Thompson to the Pittsburg Pirates. Last season, Stallings saw a drastic decline in both his offensive numbers, with his OPS falling from .704 to .584, and his defensive ability. However, his pitch calling stilled seemed above average and was seen as a major reason behind Sandy Alcantara’s Cy Young season. This season, however, his numbers have drastically declined even further, with his OPS hanging around .340, and his OPS+ at -5.

For reference, league average OPS+ is 100, and he is currently holding -5. Even further, Stallings has 2 passed balls and has only caught 1 runner in attempting to steal, with a 5% success rate.  At this point, and with the struggle of the starting rotation, there is 0 reason why the Marlins should continue to employ Jacob Stallings behind the dish.

The other part of the duo is Nick Fortes. Fortes is a 25 year old 2nd year catcher for the Marlins who has also had his fair share of struggles on the offensive side of the ball. Fortes currently is holding a .505 OPS with a 41 OPS+. Fortes, like Stallings, struggles to get runners out on steal attempts, with only a 12% caught stealing rate. But, he does hold 3 DRS, whereas Stallings holds a -1. Fortes has shown flashes of competency and sometimes brilliance, both behind and at the plate. If you’re going to keep one of the current duo, Fortes is the one.

So I’m sure you’re sitting here asking: What next? What can we do to improve the situation?

It’s very rare for a catcher to get traded mid-season, as they have to acclimate to the team and the pitching staff, so that has a minimal chance to occur, although I did point to the Marlins potentially going after Elias Diaz of the Colorado Rockies in my previous article. At this current point, the Marlins have to look in-house for changes, or go full time Nick Fortes behind the dish.

For in-house options, there are two options, but truly, at this point, only one option. That would be Austin Allen, who is housed at Triple-A Jacksonville. Austin Allen doesn’t have a sparkling MLB career at the age of 29, and even his stats in AAA leave some room for improvement, as he has a slash line of .192/279/.475, with 8 home runs. He has had some bad luck hitting, with a .155 BABIP, but you shouldn’t expect much from him if he returns back to the majors.

The other option in house is the most requested catching option, which is from undrafted free agent Paul McIntosh.

Since arriving in the Marlins system in 2021, McIntosh has done nothing but hit the ball. With a career OPS of .882, which holds a .501 SLG, his bat is present and powerful. Pair that with a 19.9 K% and a 14.3 BB%, McIntosh is a welcome and needed offensive addition to the Marlins lineup. The only issues? Paul McIntosh has yet to play above AA-Pensacola, and holds many defensive woes behind the dish. The Marlins have experimented moving McIntosh to the OF and to DH, as they don’t see him fitting defensively at catcher. Wherever he fits, though, his bat would be a much-needed boost to a plateauing Marlins offense.

With all this in mind, it’s obvious the Marlins need to make a change and soon behind the dish. The only questions remains – What will be that change? When will that change happen? What do you guys think the Marlins should do?

Whatever it is, it needs to be something. Soon.

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