In his postgame interview after Saturday’s win, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton indicated that the game wouldn’t mean anything if they didn’t win tomorrow.
Giancarlo Stanton is a smart man.
The Miami Marlins, in the thick of the playoff chase, had a huge opportunity this weekend to put some real distance between them and arguably their top rival for an NL Wild Card spot in the New York Mets. That opportunity was spectacularly missed, and the result puts some real pressure on Miami to win those last two series. Those are now must win barring a Mets collapse, something they seem incapable of doing despite a season full of injuries.
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Rather than take you through a straight recap, I thought we’d talk takeaways. What exactly should Fish Fans have learned from these three games, and how much of it carries over the rest of the way? We’ll set you straight. Here’s three strikes to consider.
Strike 1: Pitching Isn’t The Only Problem
Let’s be honest. Unless you’re related to Jose Urena, you had Sunday penciled in as a loss, even after his excellent first start in Philadelphia last Tuesday. And while Adam Conley has certainly earned more of your trust, or at least should have by this point, Jose Fernandez on Saturday was the only thing you felt good about. If the Marlins won this series, it was going to be by a mix of slugfest and bullpen attrition.
And then the Marlins came out and had the best starting pitching in the series. Every day of it- three straight quality starts. For the second start in a row, in terms of runs allowed, Urena outpitched Fernandez. The Mets did have Jacob deGrom pitching in the series, but he was sandwiched between the team’s two worst starters. If the Marlins got good starting pitching, they should have won.
Yes, Steven Matz and Logan Verrett played well. But there’s no excuse for not taking one of those games. The Marlins are too good of a hitting team. They have the highest team batting average in the entire National League, second best in baseball. We’ve reached the point of the season where the inability to knock in runs has stopped being a cute statistical curiosity, and begun to be a serious indictment of how this team performs under pressure at the plate. I’m sure some of the more metric minded fans in the audience are ready to pounce and say “clutch” isn’t a thing- which is why I didn’t say it- but there’s something missing from this lineup. Finding a fifth starter should be the priority this week, but I wouldn’t sleep on a Jeff Conine/Nick Johnson type addition to the bench.
Strike 2: Stop Pitching To James Loney
Seriously, stop it. The man doesn’t like us. Man needs the Bryce Harper treatment more than Harper does.
Strike 3: Jose Urena Needs To Be Traded ASAP
Urena is officially back from the dead after two excellent starts. An out away from being able to claim consecutive quality starts- no easy feat for Marlins starting pitchers not also named Jose this season- he’s definitely flashed some promise in the past week. And there very likely won’t be a better time to trade him.
His next start would come against a very talented St. Louis Cardinals team that’s only the second best run scoring team in the majors. They’re the Marlins with veteran experience and situational hitting ability. The odds of him performing as well as he has these past two starts is extremely low. And that’s not a knock necessarily, as I expect the other Jose to have his work cut out for him as well. One start is a fluke, two is potential, three is a legitimate story. There are enough teams that will be willing to bite on potential this week, and Urena has just pulled himself to the top of the Marlins scrap/stockpile of expendable arms with MLB experience and controllable service time.