Miami Marlins: Three bold predictions for 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with manager Don Mattingly #8 after the game against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with manager Don Mattingly #8 after the game against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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What does the future hold for these Miami Marlins? What will the 2020 season bring? Here are a few predictions.

There are a little over two weeks remaining in the Miami Marlins 2019 season. The team must win four more games to avoid having the worst record in club history.

Yes, we have gotten to that point. To say this season hasn’t been a disappointment would be a flat out lie. Too many things have gone wrong after a promising last half of the first half of the season. The Marlins started the season 10-31 and have played 42-65 baseball since then.

That’s somewhat respectable given the lack of power in the lineup and the failure of the pitching staff to improve from the first 81 games of the season. Things have to change, but time and a lack of financial support may not allow that to happen for another two seasons.

These are the Miami Marlins, for better or for worse.

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The Marlins woes continued Thursday night as Caleb Smith lost his fourth straight decision, this time to the Milwaukee Brewers. The loss by arguably the team’s best pitcher is a constant reminder that the young arms in the rotation are still developing. I still hold out hope this front five become an Atlanta Braves-like staff from the mid-1990s.

The 2020 version of the Marlins should look and feel different. While it’s hard to make predictions based on the unknown, I look to the Magic 8-Ball once again to help me see the future. Here are three bold predictions for next season.

30-30 Homer Hitters – It’s possible the Marlins have two 30-home run hitters in Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper. Having the two outfielders in the middle of the order swinging for the fences next season would add balance to a small-ball lineup the team has used the majority of 2019.

Anderson led the team with 20 home runs when he fractured his hand and was lost for the season. I predicted he would hit 25 homers this season and would have probably made good on that guess had he stayed healthy. The former third-round pick out of Arkansas in 2014 has become a cornerstone player who should approach the 30-dinger plateau next season.

Cooper has dealt with injuries this season but has jacked 15 home runs in limited time. Health is the biggest concern for the first baseman/outfielder. He was brought over in the trade with Smith right after Derek Jeter took over as team CEO.

Cooper has a chance to be a long ball hitter in the middle of this lineup. If he can play 150 games next season, look for him to hit 30 or more over the wall for the Marlins.

More trade talk – This isn’t anything new, who the team will get offers for will change the pitching staff.

I still say Jose Urena will be part of trade discussions by contenders looking for a back-end starter. Urena would have been traded at the deadline if not for his back injury which sidelined him until Sept. 1.

Caleb Smith is going to get some calls. He has a chance to become the ace of this staff, but lately, he has had issues with throwing too many pitches early in games, like Thursday night. He can be an effective starter if he gets run support and he gets hitters out early.

He threw 107 pitches in six innings in the loss.

I wonder if teams will call about Sandy Alcantara, given his work on the mound of late is not indicative of the record he owns. Some of the best performances on the mound this season for this franchise have been from Alcantara, who should take another step forward next season.

I’m calling it now. Alcantara will be the Marlins Opening Day starter if he is not traded.

Mattingly gets two more years – I’ve made a big deal this year about Don Mattingly’s status with the organization. The fact that talks about his future have been tabled leads me to believe he’s not going to be back next season.

But what if Jeter decides to stick with Mattingly in the dugout? Changing the narrative and bringing another skipper in while Mattingly has been the one to deal with all the changes within the organization doesn’t make sense to me right now. I think, logically, he deserves two more years.

The Marlins and going to continue to undergo change with the 25-man roster and their minor-league system. That means Mattingly, who has seen faces walk in and out of this clubhouse, may be best equipped to handle the balance.

It’s also not fair to him that after four years he leaves and the team suddenly begins to play winning baseball. Mattingly was brought in by the old regime and had a team that was competitive. New ownership changed all that. Despite a losing record, I think he gets at least one more year if not two to try and turn this ball club around.

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