For the Miami Marlins, it isn’t any single issue keeping them from being a contending ball club, it’s a different issue every night.
A lot has been said about the Miami Marlins need for depth in the starting lineup. With Adam Conley being sent to the minor leagues, Edinson Volquez and Wei-Yin Chen on the disabled list, and Jeff Locke still working his way back from bicep tendinitis, it remains their most glaring need. But the Fish appear to be more than just an ace (or two) away from being in the playoff hunt.
On Tuesday night, Miami did almost everything it needed to notch a win against a red-hot Redbirds squad. Dan Straily pitched his best outing of the season, every player contributed on offense in some capacity, and it felt like the tide was beginning to turn for the Fish. As a result of Christian Yelich and Don Mattingly being tossed in the first inning, the team played with vim and vigor.
Things appeared to be on the uptick early on for the Marlins.
Dan Straily pitched well. He allowed only one earned run, on three hits, striking out five. Throwing 92 pitches over seven innings of work, he left the Marlins in their best position to win in several nights. While nursing a four run lead, and with a bullpen that has been mostly dependable, everything was pointing in the right direction for the Fish.
Miami Marlins bullpen can’t hang on.
Kyle Barraclough was promptly exposed by the Cardinals lineup and surrendered the Miami Marlins lead immediately. Able to convert only one out, Barraclough was tagged for four runs, on three hits and two walks. He was relieved by Brad Ziegler after throwing 23 pitches. While Ziegler was able to stop the bleeding, he surrendered a single which scored two of inherited runners from Barraclough.
Due to the fact that Miami had blown the lead, Straily was no longer eligible for the win. But the Marlins weren’t sunk yet. A.J. Ramos took care of that. Ramos was unable to retire the side without surrendering the go ahead run off the bat Dexter Fowler. They failed to score in the bottom half of the inning and fell to the Cardinals 6-5.
On a night in which the Marlins got everything they needed to win, they still didn’t. In recent nights, the offense stalled. Last night, the defense committed two errors and put a comeback out of reach. Most noteworthy, the starting pitching has faltered. If the bullpen begins to leak, the Miami Marlins might be out of gum to plug up all these holes
Bullpen strength was viewed as one of the teams greatest assets entering the season. It still is, though Jose Ureña sliding into the starting rotation does weaken it a bit. Starting pitching remains the teams biggest concern. The offense has been slow with few exceptions, but the lineup is stacked with good hitters and is already showing signs of life.
Time will likely prove Tuesday nights loss to be more of an outlier than the norm. When the Marlins built this team in the offseason, they focused on the pen.