The season-long hitting drought the Miami Marlins have been suffering through to start the 2012 is sinking the team’s chances to be a contender. It isn’t quite panic time yet, but the last week has proven Miami may not quite be ready to join the NL’s elite.
With Friday night’s 5-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Marlins have lost six straight games, and the lack of hitting is playing a very large part in the recent woes. They say pitching wins championships, but you can’t win if you don’t score any runs.
During the current six-game slide, Miami has tallied a total of six runs. Twice the Marlins scored two runs, and twice they were shut out. The pitching staff has a 3.33 ERA over the same stretch. The kind of stat where you could expect to win a few of those six games.
Miami Manager Ozzie Guillen has already said that he is going to start making some changes, and he started in Friday night’s loss to the Diamondbacks by benching struggling SS Jose Reyes. Reyes is now hitting .205 with only six runs scored in 2012.
Miami managed to hit into as many double plays as hits, in tallying only three singles against Diamondbacks starter Joe Saunders Friday.
“It seems like we’re not having fun. It seems like we worry too much every time we go to the plate. That’s what I worry about a little bit,” Guillen told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
Though it is still relatively early in the season, Guillen needs to do whatever it takes to get the hitters swinging the bats more effectively. Now trailing the division-leading Washington Nationals by 6.5 games, only San Diego Padres, and the LA Angels trail by more games behind their respective division leaders. Miami can’t afford to fall too far behind in the toughest division in the NL.
Speaking of the Angels, aren’t you glad that the Marlins didn’t sign the suddenly miserable Albert Pujols this offseason? That 10-year, $240 million contract could have been causing Marlins management fits, and wondering how it all went wrong in the offseason.
For the season, the Fish are now hitting .226. That anemic total bests only the Padres, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Only the Nationals have been able to get away with a struggling offense this season, and that is because their pitching has been stunningly lights out in April with a team 2.25 ERA for the month. The Marlins’ pitching staff ranks sixth in the NL with a 3.37 ERA. That is plenty good enough to be a contender – as long as you have at least some hitting to go along with the pitching.
Not to say the pitching has been perfect. The starters have been solid, as expected. The 8th and 9th innings, however, are a particular weak point for Miami pitching, as the team now sports a 4.78 ERA in the crucial 8th and 9th innings. Heath Bell, signed in the off-season as a free agent to be the Marlins’ closer, has three blown saves (to go along with two saves), and a 9.53 ERA.
Even if the hitting gets turned around, the Fish will need to be more consistent on the mound late in games, and hold whatever leads they are handed with the game on the line.
It isn’t too late to fix what ails the Marlins, but if these problems linger a couple of weeks into May, it will prove a very difficult task to climb into playoff contention in September.