With the obvious difference between the baseballs last year and this year, teams and fans are still assessing what amounts of their team’s performance so far is luck and skill. Among the most curious to me is the Miami Marlins, who currently sit at 12-10 and are 3 games behind the Mets in the NL East. The team has out-dueled its division rivals in the Phillies, Braves, and Nationals so far in this young season. But are the Marlins good enough to make it last?
Let’s start with what was expected to be the main strength of the Marlins this year: their pitching. Or, to be more specific, their starting pitching. The Marlins boast the youngest starting rotation in the League with an average age of 25.4. And they’re all insanely talented. Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez lead this group with a 2.90 and 1.61 ERA, respectively, and Jesus Luzardo has pitched much better than he did last season (at least so far), cutting his ERA by more than half. Elieser Hernandez and Taylor Rodgers have not had the same success, but there’s still time to turn the season around.
The relief pitching this year is also keeping up with the starters. The closer, Anthony Bender, might have a higher ERA this year than last (from 2.79 to 4.32), but he still has six saves in nine appearances. Plus, three of the four runs came in two early season appearances. I’m not worried about him moving forward. The team as a whole is ranked 6th out of 15 teams in ERA, and my gut says that will improve even further.
Everyone was to see Jazz Chisholm Jr. this year and he has not disappointed. An OPS over 1.000 and leading the team with 4 home runs so far? Playing exactly as advertised. Offseason pickups Jorge Soler, Avisail Garcia, and Jacob Stallings are all underperforming, as is shortstop Miguel Rojas. Soler’s got a .608 OPS, and the rest are below .500. This year’s average so far is .675, which is already low, and that’s about half their starting lineup. Luckily Super-utilitymen Jon Berti and Brian Anderson are hitting well, so maybe we’ll see more lineups with the two of them in the future.
Obviously, it’s still early in the season, so many of these seasons can flip on a dime. I expect that to happen with Soler and Garcia at some point, as they’re both better hitters than this. I also expect Chisholm to fall to earth a little bit, but he’ll still likely be their best hitter overall. Overall, I think this team is better than everyone’s given them credit for, and they’ve showed that so far in this young season. The real question for their success is whether or not the Phillies and Braves start playing back up to their potential and if they can continue to play them well if so. It’s a young season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins make a surprise playoff appearance in October.
Image Source: Jason Vinlove, USAToday Sports
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