Can the Miami Marlins answer these three questions while making an impact on the 2020 MLB season?
It’s almost the end of May and Miami Marlins fans are still waiting to hear a word of when the team will be able to get back to preparing for the 2020 MLB season.
The wait could be a little longer than we once thought. After both the League office and team owners agreeing to a proposal that would have opened training facilities up in June with a target return date to playing games that mean something in July, the chances of games being played are growing thin.
When the Marlins do get back to playing baseball, the entire organization still remains under a microscope as the third season of this rebuilding project must prove to it is working. CEO Derek Jeter, team president of baseball operations Michael Hill, minor league director Dick Scott and manager Don Mattingly must all deliver this shortened season.
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Yes, that is called pressure.
With changes to the season that may stick well into 2021 and beyond and the team’s need to find success – meaning a winning record for the first time since 2009 – Mattingly may be more aggressive in his coaching style this season. This might be a year where managers have nothing to lose, so playing more than the percentages could be a “new norm.”
I did that for effect ore than anything.
If the Miami Marlins are going to be one of those teams that came back to baseball and prove it can hang around the top of their division most of the season, these three questions must be answered.
Will Pitching or Hitting be More Dominant?
The Marlins have prided themselves on building a franchise with front-line pitching for the future. Through trades, free agency, Hot Stove, and the MLB Draft, the Marlins have put together staff on each level of the organization that will improve with each ladder rung it moves.
That’s a great thing about the future of this team and the front office.
Hitters may need more reps to work on their timing. They may need more at-bats in-season to find a rhythm, which also makes predicting the Marlins to surprise people so much harder to do this season. There is also the notion because nobody picks them to do anything this season, Miami becomes a top sleeper team for 2020.
Any way we look at this, one side of the equation must come through and lead the way. Since there were more improvements made to the everyday lineup and bench, let’s hope bats come alive and swing for the fences with regularity. It will be interesting to see what hitting coach Eric Duncan and bench coach James Rowson come up with to help the players hit the ball better.
Can Sandy Alcantara become the next Pedro Martinez?
It’s highly unlikely any pitcher becomes what Pedro Martinez did in the Majors, but he showed steady improvement in the second half of 2020 to give this team hope for the future. Alcantara displayed control and power and looked dominant even with a losing record at 6-14.
Expect more of the same once he gets comfortable on the mound once again.
Alcantara was the centerpiece of the Marcell Ozuna trade and had the hardest luck last season because he pitched well but his teammates could not give him more than three runs to work with. Also, the bullpen failed him – which was an issue with many starters last season. He was the team’s lone representative at the All-Star game and looked like he belonged, pitching a scoreless inning.
Poised with a 98-mph fastball and heat where he is learning to challenge hitters, this could be the season Alcantara proves he is the true ace of this staff. He will have plenty of competition from Caleb Smith and possibly Pablo Lopez as the leader of this rotation.
Will Records be Broken this Season?
I read an interesting piece on Call to the Pen about six players who have the potential to hit .400 in a shortened season. Not one Miami Marlins player made the list. It could happen, but if so, how will it be recorded in baseball annals?
We won’t see strikeout or win totals broken, but there are some team records that could be challenged like batting average and ERA. It’s hard to predict that kind of stats given we aren’t sure how many games are going to be played yet.
And yes, there is still a chance we won’t see baseball this season at all.
Brian Anderson should continue to develop as a hitter. So should Miguel Rojas. If there was a player on the current roster who I thought would challenge the .400 mark, it would be him. Also, look for some rookies to be brought up through the taxi squad who could make an impact without setting records.
Mattingly will have the fortune of more players to choose from with 50 potential players at his disposal. Monte Harrison, Nick Neidert, and Jazz Chisholm should all see time in the Majors at some point.
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