The Miami Marlins have a 56-86 record heading into the final 20 games of the 2018 season. There is still plenty of impact this team can make on the National League playoffs.
It isn’t easy being Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly. The skipper has been charged with taking a group of youngsters, mixed with a modicum of veteran leadership, and an angry fan base and asked to turn this organization into a winner.
If we were grading the former MLB great, he would get a C+.
It ain’t easy being a Marlins fans these days. It’s just as difficult being a youngster who is not used to losing many games because of inconsistency. Injuries, poor hitting, a lack of power and too many questions have led Mattingly to juggle his roster almost daily.
Hopefully, the 2019 season will show change. This season has been a lesson in patience, something the city in South Florida is tired of being asked to have.
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If Miami is going to create momentum to build on the last month of the season, these three things must happen.
Solidify the pitching staff
The biggest decisions the Marlins will have to make this offseason will be which veteran pitchers will remain in Miami next year. This is the audition for as many arms as possible.
Dan Straily, Wei-Yin Chen and possibly Jose Urena could all be playing elsewhere. Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Trevor Richards are locks for the top end of the rotation. How Mattingly decides to use his rotation the next three weeks could be a sign of how the staff will look next year.
The bullpen has taken its fair share of knocks this season and needs more consistency in replacing starters. Adam Conley could be this team’s closer next season. Kyle Barraclough still has a shot at the ninth-inning specialist role.
Another name to watch is Tayron Guerrero, a rookie who throws straight heat.
Watch the continued progress of Lewis Brinson
There are two tales of the season for Lewis Brinson. The first chapter is a rookie outfielder who hit .186 before a hip injury sidelined him. After almost two months out of the lineup, he returned to the Marlins on Sept. 1.
Mattingly has to like what he has seen so far.
The center fielder could become a power sourced at the top of the lineup. He could also become a gold-glove outfielder like the organization hoped for.
Brinson is one player who should become the face of this franchise and a south Florida native fans can really get behind.
Find someone to replace the loss of power in the lineup
This might be the biggest flaw in Derek Jeter’s blueprint. There is no true 30-40 homerun hitter in this lineup. There may be help on the way in a few seasons.
I figure Garrett Cooper will be given the chance to win the first base job in Spring Training. Brinson has the potential to hit 25-30 dingers. The swing of catcher J.T. Realmuto has been magic this season. The Marlins must figure a way to sign him to a long-term deal.
Monte Harrison, the team’s top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, can be a five-tool player with development. He has a fluid swing but must cut down on his strikeouts.
It’s possible Miami will look for a bat in free agency, but won’t break the bank to do it.