Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds: Series in review

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Marcell Ozuna
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Marcell Ozuna /

With David Phelps traded and the writing clearly on the walls, the Marlins wrapped-up a three-game set against the Reds amidst a sea of trade rumors and uncertainty. 

All aboard Miami Marlins fans. It’s certainly fitting that the stadium the Fish are playing in has a giant steamship in left center field, because there be plenty of rough seas ahead for the franchise.

Trade season has come, and the only question is how much money Jeffrey Loria will demand be lopped off from his ledger before selling the team.

That’s another story though, and one that we must try to separate as much as possible from what’s going on on the field. Marlins fans will be seeing Red quite a lot these next couple weeks without even perusing MLB Trade Rumors.

The entire season series against Cincinnati has been compressed into the end of July. So there is be plenty to have learned from these matchups. From a seemingly stacked mismatch in Miami’s favor, to some problematic pitching probables of their own, to a left side of the infield showdown.

Advantage Marlins, but can they capitalize? 

On paper, you can argue the Miami Marlins should have won this series easily. They managed to do so, but it wasn’t easy. The reason? An almost complete mismatch when it comes to hitting versus pitching.

The Marlins entered play with the fourth highest team batting average in the majors. While they rather inexplicably still don’t even crack the Top 20 in runs scored (okay, low OBP, and an inability of all but three Marlins to hit for power does kind of explain it), that’s still an extremely impressive stat.

Meanwhile, the Reds rank dead last in team ERA.

Throw in the fact they’re even 24th in Team BAA (Batting Average Against), and it should have been a monstrous weekend for Miami Marlins offensive counting stats. That didn’t materialize, and the Marlins played the Reds even in runs scored, 11-11, but managed to win the series.

There’s always a catch

The Marlins didn’t exactly roll out the top of the rotation this weekend though.  Chris O’Grady and Tom Koehler were tasked with making sure this series goes better than the last two, a tall task in a hitter friendly park like Great American. In many ways, the jury is still out on these two arms though.

O’Grady was making the all important third start after one excellent, and one mediocre showing to open up his big league career. He went only 4.2, with six walks being his eventual undoing. He surrendered only four hits, but three earned runs.

Koehler 2.0 was showing signs of having figured out what troubled him earlier in the season. Sunday can only be considered a step back, going 5.2 and allowing five earned runs on nine hits. Three of those hits landed on the other side of the fence.

There are bonus stories at play as well. For O’Grady, it’s about a 2018 rotation audition. If he can continue performing the rate he has, he could find himself the heir apparent to the other pitcher being discussed in this article.

As for Koehler, he’s running out of chances to impress his way onto a playoff bound club looking for rotation depth. The Marlins would love to to see Koehler boost his trade value before the deadline.

Riddle vs. Rojas: Who’s on short?

Picking up on that 2018 audition discussion, J.T. Riddle and Miguel Rojas might be in a bit of a showdown situation when it comes to Miami Marlins starting shortstop honors next season.

Of course, that might be a moot point if Dee Gordon sees himself traded in the next week.

But assume for a moment that doesn’t happen. Heck, assume it does, but that Derek Dietrich takes over there. Top prospect Brian Anderson seems destined to break camp with the big club next spring, and it won’t be to warm the bench either. That leaves one eligible spot for the Riddle-Rojas tandem.

Next: Goodbye Mr. Phelps

Riddle enjoys a significant advantage in that shortstop is his only position, whereas Rojas can play virtually the entire infield. He’s the new and improved Alfredo Amezega, a true super-utility player that the Marlins haven’t enjoyed in years.

However, he might also be the second best infielder on the roster period. So both short and long term, it’s a battle worth watching.

See you in Arlington!