With their sixth straight Spring Training win, the Miami Marlins are now a .500 ballclub and now there is plenty of reason for optimism in 2019 and beyond.
While the standings don’t really mean anything, the Miami Marlins are making other MLB teams and fans across the baseball landscape take notice. This team has won six baseball games in a row. For this organization, it’s a feat that is bigger than it might seem.
When was the last time we talked about the Marlins being a .500 team? When was there any kind of real excitement about the little team in south Florida making any noise in the National League? Miami may not win 75 games, this season, but the performance of this roster, with manager Don Mattingly and the front office deciding who stays on the 25-man roster, and who is reassigned, is refreshing nonetheless.
As Kevin Kraczkowski wrote yesterday on Marlin Maniac, this was a team that posted a 4-10 record and showed signs of being another also-ran. But players are developing on this roster – both in the field and on the pitching staff. The organization as a whole, from the front office down, will develop in incriments, hoping for improvement in 2019.
While the word patience is something the Marlin faithful does not want to hear, the time is needed to make sure the front office does this the right way, to build a winner for the long haul and not just a short stanza.
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"“With Opening Day set for March 28 against the Rockies at Marlins Park, the Marlins are determined to stay the course and construct a roster around pitching, defense and athleticism,” Joe Frisaro wrote on MLB.com."
The pitching staff has gotten the majority of the headlines this spring, mainly with the growth of young arms fighting to prove they belong on the parent roster. It seems each day a new prospects wows the organization, while veterans continue to balance the staff. There will be some tough decisions to be made.
"“Rotation depth is a reason the Marlins didn’t look to sign an established free-agent starter. Miami used 13 different starters last season, and if needed, the commitment is there to give the players moving up the pipeline a chance,” Frisaro added.“Still, the organization is mindful that pitching can be fragile, and unproven starters will have their innings closely monitored.”"
The same can be said for the bullpen, where Jose Quijada’s re-assigment helped shape the team relef corps even more. At some point, Quijada will get another chance to prove his worth in Miami, but for now he must work on improving despite striking out six in 3 2/3 innings in Spring Training.
There is still a chance veteran Wei-Yin Chen moves out of the rotation and becomes a strong long reliever for Miami.
Pitching is not the only reason for Mattingly and his coaching staff to smile.
The play of Lewis Brinson in the outfield and the power he has displayed may be an indication he will help supply much needed power from fifth in the batting order. Brinson was the team’s leadoff hitter when he was healthy last season, but ha shown more comfort further down in the lineup. He has shown the type of consistency this season the Marlins had hoped for in 2018.
Also, being completely healthy should help Brinson become one of the better hitters in baseball this year.