As a team that came into the All-Star break being 14 games over .500, and added three necessary and major additions to their team in Josh Bell, Jake Burger, and David Robertson, the Marlins were poised for success and a playoff run for the first time, outside of a 2020 COVID season, since 2003. However, with 28 games left, the story is much different for a now .500 ballclub. What happened? What caused such an unprecedented downfall to be nearly out of the playoff race? Let’s talk about it.
Arraez and Shine
Prior to the All-Star break, Luis Arraez was well on his way to have one of the highest batting averages since Tony Gwynn hit .394 in 1994, as he entered the second half with an average of .383. Many expected Arraez to continue hitting non-stop, as it seemed as though there was nothing nor no man that could stop him. However, the second half has been an entirely different story for La Regadera. In the second half, Luis Arraez has been hitting for an average of .285, which caused his season average to dip below .350 for the first time all season. Yes, that’s a real stat.
Now, a .285 average still isn’t anything to sneeze at. In fact, he’d still be 17th in the league in batting average with that. But, for a team who’s offense was dependent on Luis Arraez to be that constant bat in the lineup that would move guys over or start the inning off with getting on base, it’s less than ideal in a Wild Card race. Moreover, in August, Arraez only had 4 multi-hit games, which breaks his previous season low of 10 multi-hit games in May. If the Marlins are going to make that push for the playoffs and hope for sustained success, they need their All-Star to revert to his former self.
Bullpen Blows and Woes
The Marlins saw that, for some reason, AJ Puk had lost his ability to close out games. With Puk’s 20 ER on the season, 11 came from July. The Fish knew they had to act fast to get someone to close out the games in Miami as Puk’s blown save total began growing. So Kim Ng acted fast and grabbed the best reliever on the market in David Robertson. Robertson has a ton of sustained success throughout his career, and this season was no different, allowing 10 ER in his 42 IP in Queens. However, since arriving in Miami, he has been quite the opposite of any version of himself, allowing 10 ER in his 11 IP. Miami has since removed Robertson, whom they paid a hefty price for, out of the closer role and have inputted Tanner Scott there. It has yet to be seen if that choice will pay off.
Are the Fish Fried?
Through all of these struggles, there’s still time for the Marlins to make that final push and run to the playoffs. They’re only 3 games back in the Wild Card hunt and are an incredibly streaky team who can get hot at a moment’s notice. The only issue is that moment hasn’t arrived post All-Star break. Miami has struggled with giving run support to their pitching, and when they give the run support, the bullpen throws away the game. It’s a seemingly consistent struggle lately that the team needs to overcome. With 28 games remaining in the season, the Marlins statistically aren’t out of the hunt and can come back for the playoffs. The only question is, can they do it?