The Marlins stink. This much was known throughout the long winter and during Spring Training, but was never as obvious as it has been the opening week of the season. In their three-game series against the Nationals to start the season, the Marlins came within a Justin Ruggiano solo shot of being shut out in 27 straight innings. As it stands right now, the Marlins have not scored a run in over 83% their innings. The best part about the early days of the baseball season are all the weird statistics like this, and, certainly, there are plenty of bad ones for the Marlins. But are there any silver linings to be found?
Truthfully, it depends on your state of mind. If you entered the season expecting to compete, or to finish .500, or to end the season in 4th place, or to avoid 100 losses, you’re out of luck. It’s going to be a long, painful season. But if you view this season as having no expectations but to lose, then every positive is a huge step in the right direction, and this team can actually be fun to watch. So in what has so far been an utterly forgettable one-twenty-seventh of a season, let’s look at some of those silver linings.
First off, the starting pitching has, thus far, looked better than one could have hoped. It should be obvious that they won’t be THIS good all season long, but having played a series against a powerful Nationals team, it’s encouraging to see these types of numbers. Ricky Nolasco‘s home run problem still dogs him (although it could have just turned into a Bryce Harper problem, as both bombs he gave up in his first game were against the young phenom), and he pitched 5.1 innings with 3 runs, 3 strikeouts, and 3 walks against the Mets on Saturday. Alex Sanabia started the Marlins’ only win of the season so far, throwing 6 shutout innings, walking 3 and striking out a single batter. Kevin Slowey and Wade LeBlanc look like they could hold their own in the rotation for a while, until Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez return.
On Sunday, of course we were witness to the Major League debut of Jose Fernandez. The kid from Cuba looked terrific, giving up one run in 5 innings and striking out 8 Mets hitters with an incredible curveball and a fastball that touched 96 and 97 with ease. Fernandez’s starts are definitely must-see-TV for Marlins fans everywhere.
Offensively, there’s not a whole lot to write home about, but there are still reasons to be encouraged. Justin Ruggiano got a start over Chris Coghlan against a righty pitcher in the third game of the season, and responded by hitting a home run, and it seems like he’s already taken the “platoon” title away from Chris Coghlan. The Marlins have just twelve extra base hits, and only two have come from Giancarlo Stanton, who hasn’t looked good so far. Of course, we know it’s just a matter of time before he starts mashing, so while we’re digging deep for silver linings, add “looking forward to the day Stanton locks in” to the list.
Defensively, Adeiny Hechavarria looks to be every bit as good as advertised, and lately he’s been performing at the plate as well. Donovan Solano has done nothing but hit since last season, and Rob Brantly is showing that maybe last September wasn’t a mirage.
So, yes, this season is going to be pretty terrible from a results standpoint. It’s worth changing your frame of mind, though. If you do, and you don’t expect anything from this group, you’ll see a pretty fun team on the field.