Miami Marlins: Don’t Quit on ’em Yet
I know it’s a little early to be quitting on anybody after just three weeks of baseball, but the Marlins haven’t looked so hot and I know that Miami fans have a lot to be stressed out about with the NBA playoffs right now (and Dolphins fans haven’t had much to go on in recent years). So fear not, I’m here to try to provide you guys with a light at the end of the tunnel and (hopefully) let you know that all is not lost.
The Marlins have a lot of potential on this offense, and I think that’s where a lot of their issues have come from thus far. Their acquisition of Barry Bonds in the offseason hasn’t bore fruit just yet, but give him some time to mesh with this team and he might be able to help a few more of these guys click.
This roster is already chock full of guys who have proven they can hit at the Major League level before. Giancarlo Stanton, who hasn’t gotten off to the powerful start everyone expected, hit a big three-run homer off of Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday, giving him six on the year, which still has him in the top 10 in the National League. That homer was his third in three days, over which his slugging % has shot up from .368 to .536. Let’s also not forget that Stanton may still be experiencing lingering effects from a broken hand he suffered last year (as you can probably guess, your hands are pretty important when it comes to hitting).
While Stanton is upping his power game, Christian Yelich is showing that he can hit for average with the best of them. Yelich is currently #2 in the MLB with a .388 batting average. He also leads the MLB with a .500 on-base percentage. Yes, as in, he’s reaching base every other at-bat (or plate appearance if you wanna get picky). He’s done a fantastic job setting the table for Stanton thus far, and is currently second on the team with eight RBI (along with Adeiny Hechavarria and Marcell Ozuna). Let’s also not forget that Yelich is in just his fourth Major League season, so his productivity will continue to go up over the course of this year and his career.
Plenty of other bats on this team have the potential to heat up. Dee Gordon is proving to be a great leadoff man again for the Marlins, currently hitting .271 and with six stolen bags in eight attempts. As for Scott Taylor’s opinions in regards to Dee Gordon vs. Billy Hamilton, I’ll leave that for you to decide. What I do know is Gordon’s been making headway over the past couple of weeks on the basepaths, and his career batting average sits around .291, so he’s still due to put plenty more hits up this year.
Also worth noting, Ichiro is hitting .400 off of the bench so far this year, and even though he’s getting on in years, he can still certainly cause some trouble at the plate.
Miami has a mediocre pitching staff, stats-wise, and that’s not terrible given what their offense can do on paper. They sit in the middle of the pack in the NL in ERA, and BAA, and rank 9th in walks. Jose Fernandez is in a bit of a slump to start the season, and that’s actually a pretty common trend looking around NL East aces. Max Scherzer is in a self-proclaimed “funk,” while Matt Harvey still sees himself as “a work in progress,” so Fernandez is by no means alone in pitchers off to slow starts. Fernandez has yet to pitch a season with an ERA over 3.00, (currently he’s at 4.37) and I think that will still be true by the end of the year.
The rest of this staff should come into its own too. Wei-Yin Chen provided his 3rd quality start in 4 appearances against the Dodgers on Monday. He got roughed up against the Mariners in his Marlins debut, but since then he’s calmed down wonderfully. If this offense is able to step up and give him to run support, Chen could be sitting pretty in the wins column by September.
The remaining three pitchers remain to be works in progress. They are all young guys who will probably never reach the #1 spot in a rotation, but they still have a lot of room to mature on the mound. Adam Conley has done the best job of the remaining three at limiting free passes. Tom Koehler and Jared Cosart both have K/BB ratios below two, while Conley (also the youngest of the three) is sitting at 21/8. Cosart especially needs to get his stuff under control. He’s currently at 8/15, but he’s shown in the past that he can succeed if he has control of his stuff.
Finally, the Marlins schedule is in a bit of a power trough for the next two weeks. They have 2 series against the Brewers (averaging just four runs a game, they could provide good confidence starts for Koehler, Conley, and Cosart), one against the inconsistent D-Backs, and another vs. the also offensively challenged Phillies. The Marlins have the potential to really gain some momentum heading into the heart of the MLB season before facing the Nationals again on May 13.