With less than a month until the 2020 MLB season finally begins, these Miami Marlins will help lead the franchise on the diamond.
Major League Baseball is going to look a lot different this season than it has at any one point. Sixty games, rules changes, and a Miami Marlins ball club that could shock the world by becoming an instant playoff contender.
If that does happen, remember you heard it here first.
The Marlins, like every other MLB team, have waited for this. It’s not an ideal situation, but in these troubled times and circumstances, it could be the best thing to happen because a shortened season creates dramatic synergy.
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As you know, I have been against this season starting for fear of health and safety and the notion less than half an MLB season isn’t worth the trouble. But the more I think about it as a fan, the more it excites me to see just how this all plays out.
Team CEO Derek Jeter said when the team’s facilities were closed in March, that as soon as the MLB league office told him and his franchise to play ball, they would be ready. Now it’s time to prove that statement factual.
The Miami Marlins figure to be one of those teams that needs just a crack to slide in and remain close to the playoff picture this season if nothing more because they don’t know any better.
As the days inch closer to the start of the season, we will have a better understanding of how Don Mattingly will use his roster and who he may shock us with as every-day players on the field.
If the Miami Marlins are going to make some noise this season, these four players will need to help this team find its identity in 2020.
Maybe the biggest question about Jonathan Villar isn’t whether he will work out as the Miami Marlins everyday centerfielder. The bigger issue may involve the MLB Trade Deadline – if there is one – and will the utility player remain on the roster after this season.
Going into Spring Training, I saw a scenario where the Marlins would trade him for prospects at the end of the season if they were in a free-fall. But now, given the circumstances, Villar’s versatility is a needed asset more than ever.
Because of an expanded roster, Villar can also move to the infield, or possibly serve as the designated hitter. Having Villar’s speed is also a welcomes asset for this coming season.
I wanted to see what Isan Diaz could do over a full season. Now, I will see another abbreviated audition, which could either answer all my questions about his future, or it could mean he needs more work before the second base job is permanently handed to him.
Diaz has the ability to win a game with one swing of the bat. He also needs to work on his defense so he becomes a more rounded ballplayer. This is the kind of season where he can progress but is not faced with making all the right moves in one giant leap.
This is where Villar and Miguel Rojas are so important to this roster for Mattingly and the coaching staff.
We have done plenty of analysis on both Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith this offseason as the two starting pitchers who will lead the Marlins this season. Pablo Lopez will still play a big role in the success of the rotation.
Overt the last two seasons, Lopez has suffered arm injuries that have shelved him during the season. Now with a shortened season and his healthy at 100 percent, will he finally become the man in the middle of the rotation? Do the Miami Marlins get the pitcher who mowed down batter both in the Southern League at Double-A and the Pacific Coast League at the Triple-A level?
A healthy Lopez gives Mattingly more options with his rotation and allows him to potentially use a shorter bullpen. I think this will be the season Lopez makes a statement about how good he can be.
I want Brandon Kintzler to succeed in Miami, just so we can put the notion to rest that this team cannot find a true closer.
After three seasons of playing Red Rover at the position, is he the veteran who signed this offseason from the Chicago Cubs ready to assume the role of leader and closer in one package.
If he can get 10-12 saves this season and help the Miami Marlins lower their collective ERA, then the contract the team offered Kintzler is worth more than any other deal the team made this offseason.