Miami Marlins Swept in D.C.: Three Valuable Lessons

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 02: Starlin Castro #13 of the Miami Marlins bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 02: Starlin Castro #13 of the Miami Marlins bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Miami Marlins learned some valuable lessons in their three-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals.

Coming in to the game, the Miami Marlins were at 32-50 – a far cry from where they would like to be, I’m sure – but 22-19 over their prior 41 contests. The following series left them at .500 since their 10-31 start.

Rojas Continues To Heat Up

Miguel Rojas has continued to light up opposing pitching as his average fast approaches the .300 mark. He hit safely in each of Miami’s three contests against the Nationals, going six-for-12 with his first homer of the season and three RBI. He’s now hit .393 over his last 15 games, with an all-star worthy .557 slugging percentage.

Miami Marlins
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 04: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

For the season, Rojas is slashing .296/.355/.375. Those figures aren’t anything to write home about – however they’re well above his career marks of .262/.316/.344. Whereas Rojas nailed down his roster spot in part due to his infield versatility, he’s spent nearly the entire season holding down shortstop for the Marlins. After a Spring Training battle with JT Riddle for the spot, Rojas now has played 674 innings at the six and only 20 at first and second base (and none at third). Rojas is now considered the de-facto starting shortstop for the Marlins.

Signs of Life

Starlin Castro has had anything but a storybook start to the 2019 campaign. He’s been hovering around the .230 mark for what seems like forever before the just-completed Nationals series. After going one-for-three in the opener and one-for-four in the second game, Castro hit safely three times in the series finale, with a pair of singles and a double. He’s still reaching base at a .265 clip, which is well below what would normally be considered terrible. After posting WAR totals above 1.0 I all but two of his first nine seasons, he’s racked up a negative 0.9 mark this season.

I have to think that as a four-time former all-star, being nearly a full win below replacement level has to grate on Castro. Maybe his three-hit game (his fourth of the season) will spur him into a more-or-less productive season before the trade deadline. Regardless of his performance going forward, Castro does not fit into the Miami Marlins future plans, and will best serve the organization with whatever he can return in trade value.

Starting Pitching Shaky

Zac Gallen only lasted two innings in the series opener, and surrendered two runs on three hits and a walk. Game two would see all-star selectee Sandy Alcantara take a loss by allowing two runs on four hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five, but needs to get that whole “strike-zone” thing keyed in for continued major league success.

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In today’s finale, Elieser Hernandez struck out six in only 4 1/3 innings, but also gave up three runs on five hits, a free pass, and two HBP. That’s hardly going to do it if he intends to remain in the Marlins rotation when the opening day starters start coming off the injured list. Caleb Smith is expected to start next Saturday against the Atlanta Braves.

As a particular strength of the Miami Marlins, the starting pitching needs to remain strong for any measure of victory through this trying season. The pieces are in place, and the talent is evident. It’s only a matter of time before the Marlins decide the pieces that will go into their future run at success.

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