Miami Marlins Spring Training Recap: Lopez, Chen Dealing

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 30: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on June 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 30: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on June 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Miami Marlins topped the home Washington Nationals by a 2-1 final on Saturday evening.

With 4,807 on hand at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, on a clear 76º early Spring day, the Miami Marlins rode the arms of Pablo Lopez and Wei-Yin Chen to a 2-1 victory.

Lopez and Chen combined to pitch a perfect game through the first 7 1/3 innings, when Chen finally gave up a hit. Pedro Severino broke it up on a ground-ball single, but was stranded on first base.

Lopez struck out four over his perfect four innings, and Chen allowed only the single and whiffed three in his four. Could Chen’s issues be solved in much the same way Adam Conley‘s were last season? More on Conley later.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – SEPTEMBER 21: Wei-Yin Chen #54 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park on September 21, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

The win for the Miami Marlins was their sixth in 16 Spring Training games thus far. Here’s a few things we noticed while watching the game.

Curtis Granderson Breaks Through

Curtis Granderson signed a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins on February 5th, and went 0-for-8 in his first several trips to the plate. The three-time All-Star started this game with a groundout, then struck out in the third inning to make it through 10 at bats without breaking through.

Miami Marlins
JUPITER, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 20: Curtis Granderson #21 of the Miami Marlins poses for a photo during photo days at Roger Dean Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

In the fifth inning, Granderson went deep into right-center field to put the Miami Marlins up, 1-0. Not quite a no-doubter, it nevertheless was a welcome sight. Granderson is nearly assured of breaking camp with the parent club on Opening Day.

Starlin Castro & Miguel Rojas Seem to be Ready

Starlin Castro and Miguel Rojas both collected two hits in the contest. Rojas was already seeing the ball well, and came into today with seven hits in 17 Spring Training at bats. After fouling out in the second inning, Rojas collected a two-out single in the fourth and a one-out RBI-single in the sixth.

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NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 13: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins connects on a third inning two-run home run against the Miami Marlins in game two of a doubleheader at Citi Field on September 13, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Batting from the cleanup spot, Castro started the spring by going two-for-20 until the start of today’s festivities. Leading off the second inning, Castro collected the first hit of the evening with a single into center field, then got stranded at second. He grounded out in the fourth, then singled into right field with nobody out and one on in the sixth.

Adam Conley Lost the Shutout with Two Outs in the Ninth

After very solid outings by Lopez and Chen, Adam Conley came in to pitch the ninth in a save situation. After Hunter Jones led off with a single, he was soon erased on a Jacob Rhinesmith double play ball, Dixon Machado-to-Deven Marrero-to-Pedro Alvarez.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 24: Adam Conley #61 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on August 24, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

Conley had things seemingly under control, getting ahead on Carter Kieboom 1-2 in the following plate appearance. Kieboom then worked the count full, and drove one deep over the center field wall to ruin the shutout. Conley then recovered his composure enough to get Jake Noll out on strikes. He was still successful in converting the save, but homeritis is an all-too common sickness suffered by a large portion of the Miami Marlins staff this spring.

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Bryan Holaday may be the Answer Behind the Plate

What can’t Bryan Holaday do? He’s the complete package as a backup catcher. He led the National League in 2018 with a 45 percent CS rate, handled 357 1/3 innings behind the plate without an error, only passed one ball, and even pitched a couple of times.

With the splinter, Holaday is about as passable as most backup catchers have been over the years for the Miami Marlins. That’s to say, he can be counted on to hit at least .200. After going one-for-three in today’s game, he lowered his spring average to .438, or seven-for-16. If the Marlins are hunting high-and-low for a good backup catcher, they really don’t have to look very far. Holaday is the answer.

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