Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly will field a lineup of competitive players in the final month of the season but will remain constant in playing veterans over prospects against playoff contenders.
Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly may tinker with his lineup from now until the end of the Major League Season, but playing against teams in the playoff hunt means one thing – play your best players and remain competitive. That means no major changes in games against Philadelphia or Washington.
The laws of baseball nature knew even before this season started the Marlins wouldn’t be good enough to compete for a playoff berth, but that did not stop Mattingly from trying to find a balance. At times, it looks more like the scales shifted downward instead of rising to the top.
As Glenn Satell of MLB.com recently wrote, Mattingly has a philosophy that may seem a bit odd given he was just given more players to work with, more decisions to make about the team’s future.
More from Marlins News
- Miami Marlins news: Another target gone
- Why didn’t the Miami Marlins sign JDM?
- Miami Marlins rejected Boston‘s trade offer
- Miami Marlins are pursuing Michael Conforto
- Miami Marlins need to spend to win
"“I just think you throw the lineup out there that you think is best,” said Mattingly, in reference to remaining games with those two playoff contenders.“There’s going to be times when we play [young] guys because we want to continue to see them play. But in those games [against contenders], I’ve always felt that you owe it to the rest of the league and whoever else is in a playoff hunt to play your best club during those games.”"
Personally, I like the strategy. Teams should remain competitive, put their best lineup on the diamond. The pitching staff will look more like an unsolved puzzle, but continuity at the plate is vital. Veterans coming back from injury – like Lewis Brinson – need more at-bats. Catcher J.T. Realmuto is a leader on the field and in the dugout and is the straw that stirs a very weak drink.
Replacing him in the middle of the order right now wouldn’t make sense given the season the All-Star is having.
The Marlins have not completed their makeover of youth and inexperience because some minor league prospects are still playing baseball. That should all change shortly. And if you think the ideas in the team’s skipper’s head are a bit odd, know this comes from his own personal experience.
"“I didn’t play very much,” Mattingly said of his initial experience in the Major Leagues. “But I learned a lot [as a call-up]. Being a part of it, the travel, being around the guys. For some of these guys, it’ll be their first time in the big leagues. To get to experience what the routine it creates a comfort level. Just to be able to watch games.”"
It would “simple” for Mattingly to change the culture in the clubhouse and tell his veterans – including Martin Prado, who is also coming back from injury, and Starlin Castro to have a seat while wet-behind-the-ears prospects replace them in games that still mean something. It could become divisive and uncomfortable.
What Mattingly will do is lean on his veterans to act as a bridge between that is now and what is to come in the future.
The Marlins are 54-83 following a 6-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. There is nothing that will change the fact the playoffs are a mere dream that was not realized. Mattingly and his roster will come to work every day like it has for the past five months and work at winning baseball games. The formula has not changed. The roster might look different some nights. Others, it will be a new version of the old scene.
The approach could prove this team plays the spoiler role in determining a playoff berth or seeding in the playoffs. The other idea might be that Mattingly will go down with the ship as he knows veterans will set the tone for the end of this season and beyond.
Meanwhile, the end of this season can’t happen soon enough for some Marlins fans. Mattingly knows there are 25 games remaining in the season. There is plenty of baseball left to play. There are new faces to evaluate. There is still more than ample opportunity to make an impact on this year.
Win or loss, the Marlins will still attempt to remain competitive – no matter who is or isn’t in the team’s lineup.