Marlins Offense Squanders Week Of Quality Pitching

Aug 27, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Urena (62) throws during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 27, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Urena (62) throws during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

This past week saw some of the Miami Marlins most consistent starting pitching this season. And it was also just about the ugliest week you could imagine in terms of overall play.

Saturday night, the news broke not long after a humiliating 1-0 loss against San Diego that Justin Nicolino would be filling in for Andrew Cashner in Sunday’s rubber game. Given the fact that I was there in person the last time Nicolino pitched against the Padres, I was less than optimistic about the lefty’s chances.

The idea I was going to run with for this next article was how Sunday was a perfect example of why teams with playoff aspirations can’t lose games like Saturday. Anything can happen in baseball, a sport that combines a marathon-like physical grind on its players that is unmatched by any other sport, but can also see a key player miss major time because of a blister on a finger tip.

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Hard to imagine a football or hockey player missing time with that ailment, let alone several centuries worth of coal miners, farmers, field hands, and countless other laborers.

Now, of course, a blister is indeed a significant problem for the modern MLB pitcher; no issues at all with resting Cashner in that spot. However, that’s why you need to score at least a single run against one of baseball’s worst teams, in a game that would have secured a key series win.  Then there’s no pressure Sunday, and you can feel a little better about sending out a lineup that was arguably down five starters, depending whether or not you want to view swapping out Adeiny Hechavarria‘s bat for Miguel Rojas‘ as a negative.

But then Nicolino threw a bit of a wrench in those plans by turning in his best start since early May, only to see the Marlins bats come up short.

And that’s been the story of the past week.  Over the course of the last nine games, no Marlins starting pitcher has been charged with more than three earned runs. If Jose Urena had recorded just one more out this past Saturday, we’d be talking about a staggering eight quality starts.  The one start that didn’t qualify? That’d be Friday’s walk-off victory.

Yet the Fish have gone just 5-4 in that span, and again, just 4-4 in games in which a starter turned in a quality start. Furthermore, that’s a string of games that includes three starts from Nicolino and Urena, none from Wei-Yin Chen, and just one from Jose Fernandez. Basically, three-fifths of the optimum starting rotation missed time in that stretch, and the starting pitching was above average anyway.

The offense, even with their own not insignificant injuries, has to do better than that. The team can’t count on getting that same level of pitching production from so many second or third options again. Over the last six games, the Marlins have averaged just over 2.1 runs a game; that comes to a total of 13 runs, and it’s worth remembering that 7 of them came in a single game.

If the offense can finally start playing well at the same time as the defense, there’s plenty of time left to get this thing back on track. And admittedly, a 5-4 record against the Pirates, Royals, and Padres isn’t terrible overall. Depending on your viewpoint, you can even find some positives in how close that Royals series was, given how hot the defending World Champions have been playing. But that Pirates sweep masks a lot of sins, most of which were exposed over the last forty-eight hours.

So with another Jose Day start upon us, and a new turn through the rotation beginning, the time is now to set the tone.

Talking to you offense. Let’s get some runs.