Fish Struggles Continue
By Phil Kimmel
The Citrus Series has come and gone for the Miami Marlins. A lot happened, and little of it was promising.
The Miami Marlins came into this series with the Tampa Bay Rays only winning one of their previous five games. Hoping that home cooking would do them well, we all came into the series with an air of optimism. Especially after a convincing 10-3 win over the Pirates.
The wind was let out of our sails quickly as we dropped both games in Miami to the state rival Rays. Our hopes were lifted a little bit after seeing a 10 run explosion from the Fish in the first game at the Trop. I’m going to go ahead and say that I brought the luck.
We were brought back to Earth quickly, after another lethargic showing last night. Here are just a few things we learned from the series.
Feast or Famine
When it comes to getting runners on base, no problem. The Fish are sporting the seventh best team batting average in the majors at .258 and an OBP of .312. Scoring runs is another story.
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The Marlins are towards the bottom of the league when it comes to actually knocking in runs. Aside from their blowout of the Rays on Wednesday, the Fish scored a total of four runs in the series. When you compare that to the 11 scored against them, it isn’t hard to see why they lost the series.
We have focused very hard on the pitching of the Marlins this season, but, can we blame pitching for lack of run support? For the most part in this series, pitching did their job. Our starters are not the type to go for seven innings and turn it over to a set-up man. Our pen is not designed that way either.
The lack of run support comes down to one very simple factor. Aggressiveness. The Fish have been aggressively swinging at literally everything. While their team batting average is towards the top of the league, their OBP is towards the bottom.
When they make contact they get on base fairly regularly, but, they are never walking! The Marlins are almost dead last in the majors in terms of walks.
When it comes to seeing pitches, the Marlins are being so aggressive that they are averaging about 3.7 pitches an at bat which is below league average. If the bats are going to pick up, the first step will be patience at the plate.
Starters Doing Their Job (For the Most Part)
The starting rotation has received much criticism recently. Given the start of the season, it was deserved. I have been the first to criticize the starting pitching, going as far to say that Wei-Yin Chen should be traded. I still stand by that, just an FYI.
But, if we are isolating the starting pitching to just this series against the Rays. I would venture to say, aside from Conley’s start, the rotation has at least met expectations.
Leading into the season, we were told to look at the pen, not the starters. We were told that starters were just going to go through the lineup twice at the most and as long as we could score, we would leave it up to the pen. Well. Starters did just that in this series. Once again, aside from Conley.
Starters in this series, Conley removed, allowed nine runs. That’s three runs per game. That is something that can be worked with. Three runs is a lead that can be overcome.
Should we blame the relievers? Probably not. Relief pitching allowed a total of four runs over the course of all four games. Don’t forget, the pen pitched the majority of Volquez’s outing after he left with a blister.
I will venture to say that the Marlins pitching has been doing exactly what was expected of them. Both the rotation and the bullpen. It’s time for the offense to uphold their end of the deal.
Miami > Tampa (In Sandwiches anyway)
I was at the game in Tampa on Wednesday and participated in the sampling of Cuban sandwiches from both Tampa and Miami.
Far and away, Miami has the better sandwiches. I may be partial to this opinion due to living in Miami when I was younger and growing up on their sandwiches.
Now, it also is not fair to those who came up from Miami to have a sandwich from Tropicana Field. There are far better sandwiches in the area than the lunch meat they managed to throw together.
But when it came to those samplings, much like the Marlins’ bats, there was much to be desired from Tampa.
Next: Fish Struggle on the Road
The Marlins will open a short road series against the banged up Mets tonight. Hopefully we will see beginning of the season Fish and not this dismal team we have seen recently.