Evaluating Michael Hill’s Five Keys to the Marlins Stretch Run

Did they get this one right? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Did they get this one right? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s almost September and the Miami Marlins are only 1.5 games out of the wild card spot.

With the stretch run upon us, let’s evaluate what Marlins Director of Baseball Operations Michael Hill had to say about the five key aspects on the Marlins making a run into the playoffs.

1. Jose’s Innings

It's his universe. We're just living in it. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

After skipping a start last week, Jose Fernandez will be full go the rest of the way.

His next scheduled start is Monday against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

If Miami wants to make a run, Jose may be the #1 key. His ability to make others play better around him while he pitches provides a nice relief to an otherwise tumultuous starting rotation situation.

While Tom Koehler has pitched the most consistently since the all-star break, no one on the team can touch Jose’s peak. His last start, going 7 scoreless innings against the Royals, was a relieving sign for Don Mattingly. He also set Miami’s strikeout record for a season. Prior to that, the Marlins had lost Fernandez’ last 4 outings, a rare occurrence for one of the MLB’s phenoms.

All I know is that if Miami comes down to a one game wild-card playoff, they need Jose out there.

I think he turns it on down the stretch, and we all better hope so for the sake of the Fish.

2. Adam Conley and Wei-Yin Chen‘s Availability

Apr 15, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The injuries of these two lefties has come at a very inconvenient time for Miami.

Just under two weeks ago, Conley was placed on the 15-day DL after hurting his finger celebrating a Jeff Mathis homerun. (It never happens, so Conley was extra amped.)

This would mean that if all goes right, Conley should be available as soon as next week to jump back into the rotation.

The young lefty, while experiencing some ups and downs, has had a relatively productive year for the Fish. His 8-6 W-L mark combined with a 3.94 ERA is nothing to sneeze at, but his 1.412 WHIP should be lower as a #2 in the rotation.

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Regardless of the impressiveness of his past numbers, there is no doubt Conley will be needed down the stretch. Having to use Jose Urena and David Phelps in the rotation was not something Mattingly wanted to do.

You would think that a 5 year, 80 million dollar deal would bring some better results than Wei-Yin Chen’s 4.99 ERA and only 5 wins.

The lefty has certainly been somewhat of a disappointment, and is not expected back until late September at the earliest. Chen would provide value in the playoffs as a veteran arm, but don’t expect much of him in the regular season.

3. The Bullpen’s Effectiveness

Nothing has driven Marlins fans more nuts recently than the bullpen.

If nothing else, he's a conversation piece apparently. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

All-star closer A.J. Ramos found himself on the DL for a quick stint, but has been back as the setup man over the past few days.

It’s certainly interesting that Ramos lost his spot as closer to Fernando Rodney, as Rodney has struggled in his time with Miami.

Just like Ramos, Rodney seems to always try to make it interesting at the end of games, and not in a good way. These two have the talent to step up for the Marlins and create a shutdown back end, but their recent performances worry me.

The bullpen lost David Phelps to the starting rotation, but he has performed very well in 4 starts with a 1.31 ERA. Phelps has quietly been a very key factor in Miami’s success this season.

Don Mattingly will need the young guns in the pen to step up and be composed in September baseball. Kyle Barraclough, Nick Wittgren, and Dustin McGowan have all pitched somewhat well, and will be counted on when the starters don’t go too deep into games.

The two lefty specialists in the pen, Mike Dunn and Hunter Cervenka, have looked spotty, especially Cervenka.

It seems that the Marlins just can’t catch a break with their pitcher acquisitions, since Cervenka has looked much worse in Miami than in Atlanta.

Jose’s electric starts won’t matter if the bullpen blows it.

We shall see.

4. The First Base Situation

How upsetting is the Justin Bour situation?

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The young lefty seemed poised to have a big year as he had 15 homers and 46 RBI heading into July.

Fast forward to today and the husky first-basemen is on the 60-day DL.

With this said, the Marlins have tried other options such as Derek Dietrich (also on the DL) and Chris Johnson. They’re simply not that effective.

It was a good move to call up Xavier Scruggs, who was raking in the minors. In the first 20 AB I have seen of him, I’m impressed with what he brought to the table. I think he should be thrown out there as a regular for the time being.

5. Other Acquisitions

Since Hill spoke with MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro a few days ago, the potential trade for Jeff Franceour has happened.

The Marlins basically gave up nothing, as their international bonus money pool is rarely tapped into.

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While it’s pretty evident Franceour is not his former “rookie of the year self”, he can serve as a platoon with Ichiro in RF. He seems to hit LHP somewhat efficiently, at a .273 mark, so Mattingly will have him in the lineup for at least LHP starts, if not a little more.

His strong throwing arm is also a plus, so I am fine with the move. It’s marginal, but these types of moves are key in a playoff run.

Although, the biggest acquisition I can think of for Miami the rest of the season is another RF.

Giancarlo Stanton.

After reports of Stanton being firmly done for the year with a groin injury surfaced two weeks ago, it was the most disheartening news a Marlin fan could hear.

Michael Hill has reported, however, that a return for Big G is hopefully in the books. Like Chen, a late September return is possible.

Even with a somewhat down year, adding Stanton back into the lineup just in time for the playoffs would be huge for Mattingly’s team.

A three-game series with the Padres is up next, as we get to see Jarrod Cosart return to Miami and Andrew Cashner deal to the Padres on Sunday.

September baseball is almost here.

Should be fun.