Miami Marlins: How to Remain Relevant in 2017
By Phil Kimmel
The 2017 season is in full motion for the Miami Marlins. We have seen some highs and lows already. But, what will they need to do in order to finish well in the NL East?
The Miami Marlins came into the 2017 season with a solid plan in wake of the loss of Jose Fernandez. Free agent acquisitions Edinson Volquez, Junichi Tazawa, and Brad Ziegler headlined the off-season and began to draw the picture of what the intentions were for the Fish.
In order for the Fish to contend this year there are a few things that they will have to do. In order to stay relevant in the NL East, the Fish will need to win. A lot.
Win the Games You Should Win
The Marlins will need to win the games that they are supposed to win. Both the loss to the Braves and the most recent 16 inning loss to the Mets are examples of games that should have been won. Both games the Fish had the lead late, turned to the bullpen, and were let down.
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Miami has a great team, that is fully capable of keeping up with the likes of the Mets and Nationals. To do this though, they must win the games that they are supposed to win. The fish will have to improve upon their record against teams like the Braves and Phillies, who they will be playing all year.
Last season the Marlins were 7-11 against a Braves team that finished last in the NL East at 68-93. On the same note, the Marlins were 9-10 against a struggling Phillies squad. When playing against teams, especially within their own division, the Marlins will have to tighten the reigns a bit.
Rely on the Bullpen
The Marlins came into this season with a plan to shorten the games for the starters. Without a true Ace on the staff, the dependency turns to the pen. As we have already seen this season, specifically in the last two games, the bullpen has been fairly reliable.
Aside from a few shaky outings from David Phelps as well as Tazawa, the bullpen has been the shining light of this team.
Along with the new additions, there have been some familiar faces taking the mound after the starter. Nick Wittgren, for example, has been phenomenal in his few outings.
However, being that he was the only reliever with options left, after the 16-inning game was demoted to Triple-A to make room for Jarlin Garcia.
When the Fish said that they were going to rely heavily on their bullpen, I don’t believe they intended for the bullpen to begin utilization in the third or fourth inning as we have seen over the past few nights. Moving forward, the Fish starters will need to begin lasting at least through the fifth inning.
Last season, under the tutelage of Barry Bonds, the Marlins finished with the fourth best batting average in the Major Leagues. However, the Fish finished 27th in average runs per game. While the Marlins had the ability to put runners on base, they were failing to capitalize.
There has been improvement early on in the 2017 season. The Fish are currently sitting at fifth in batting average and tenth in runs per game. In order to remain competitive, the Marlins will need to continue trending in the right direction in both of these categories.
The Fish will need everything to go right in order for them to have a chance at the 2017 playoffs. But, there is the possibility that the Marlins may be able to do the unthinkable and beat out some of the tougher teams in the National League.
Next: Miami Marlins vs New York Mets: Three Stories To Watch
That’s correct Fish Family, there’s a chance, however slim it may be.