It’s no secret that the Miami Marlins expected to have a dismal season, mostly due in part to the tragic loss of their ace Jose Fernandez. But they didn’t expect to have a stretch where they lost 20 of 25 games in late April and through most of May. The organization expected to be close to .500 and hoped to be in contention for a playoff spot at the all-star break that they are hosting.
Injuries have led to a dismal first two months of the 2017 season. Third baseman Martin Prado started the year on the DL with a strained hamstring he suffered in the World Baseball Classic,
he returned in late April only to aggravate the hamstring again and land on the DL, which has where he’s been for more than a month. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria has been on the DL twice with an oblique injury and, like Prado, is where he is today. Utility infielder Miguel Rojas broke his thumb in May and won’t be ready to return until August. Edinson Volquez has been on the DL as well for a blister on his pitching hand, Tom Koehler is on the DL with a shoulder injury and Wei-Yin Chen is on the DL with a right elbow sprain.
Poor play has also contributed to the Marlins poor start. The bullpen, which was supposed to be the strength of the team has been awful, ranking 14 in all of baseball. Through 55 games the ‘pen has already logged 201.1 innings in which they’ve posted a 4.02 ERA while giving up 184 hits and have walked 96 batters.
The starting pitching hasn’t been much better. The 5-man rotation that was set for Opening Day went as follows: Wei-Yin Chen, Adam Conley, Tom Koehler, Dan Straily, and Edinson Volquez. Now, only Straily and Volquez remain in the rotation. Chen is on the DL and could need his second Tommy John Surgery, Conley has been sent down to Triple-A New Orleans, Koehler was going to be sent down to NOLA but the move was voided because he has also landed on the DL with a shoulder injury. Now, Vance Worley, Jose Urena and Jeff Locke join Straily and Volquez in the starting rotation.
The hitters have also been extremely inconsistent. For the first two months, it seemed impossible to string hits together. In April, everyday players posted a slash of.271/.330/.410 with 25 home runs and 95 RBI’s. In May the Marlins posted a slash of .286/.361/.487 with 34 long balls and 105 RBI’s. What Miami failed to do through that long skid where they lost 20 of 25 games was string hits together and timely hitting.
However, the Marlins seem to have completely turned things around on this last home stand. Over the last 10 games, starting pitchers have posted a 2.10 ERA while giving up 34 hits, striking out 47 batters and walking 17. Opposing hitters are batting just .196 with a .268 OBP, and .292 slugging. The relievers have also improved. Even though they have an ERA of 18.00 opponents are hitting a measly .110 with a .176 OPB and slugging .142. Miami relievers have allowed just 2 earned runs on seven hits while striking out 20.
The hitters have also improved over the last 10 games. They’ve posted a slash of .312/.383/.537 with 11 dingers and 36 RBI’s. The Marlins have been stringing together hits in each inning and have gotten timely hitting.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton has moved from the 4 and 5 spot to the 2 spot. He’s been batting in the two spot since May 23 and he has looked more like a hitter than a slugger, and the entire team’s average has gone up since Stanton made the move.
Scouting report of day: @Marlins BAs since 5/23 (w/ Stanton hitting second): Dee .424, Big G .394, Bour .389, Ozuna .333, Riddle .324
— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) June 3, 2017
A.J. Ellis’ at-bat during the seventh inning of Sundays game against the Arizona Diamondbacks is an excellent example of timely hitting. Ellis worked a 14 pitch at-bat that ended up being the game winning RBI. In that at-bat, Ellis fouled off six straight two strike pitches.
In the 10 game home stand, the Marlins took 2 of 3 from the L.A. Angels, swept the Philadelphia Phillies in 3, and took 3 of 4 from the D-Backs, who entered that series in tied for first in the NL West. In that D-Backs series, Edinson Volquez threw the first no hitter of the 2017 season and the first of his career.
This 8-2 home stand should give not only Marlins fans hope that they can turn this season around, but it should give the organization hope. I believe that Saturday’s no hitter was a huge momentum shift for this team.
Miami opens up a three game set in Chicago with the Chicago Cubs Monday night.