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Marlins Rookies Spur Split with Nationals

by | Jun 29, 2021 | Baseball, Daily Coverage

The Miami Marlins (33-44) managed to split their four-game series against the Washington Nationals (37-38) this weekend. After another frustrating offensive no-show, a team meeting seemed to spark the bats. The bullpen regained some semblance of rhythm as well, but Sandy Alcantara uncharacteristically struggled with the opportunity to take the series on Sunday.

This series followed the two-game sweep by Toronto, and the Marlins finished 2-4 on the homestand. The team continued to play well enough against NL East opponents, posting 14-12 mark against division rivals. The Marlins only losing record vs NL East team remains its 2-5 record against the Nationals. This is important, considering nine of Miami’s final 13 games before the All-Star break come against division foes.

The Marlins temporarily righted the ship with their two wins against the Nationals. The team is still seeking some semblance of offensive consistency entering a key July stretch.

 

Jazz Finds Form for Marlins Against the Nationals

Jazz Chisholm delighted Marlins fans during this series against the Nationals. The 23-year-old second baseman broke out of an extended slump during this four-game set. The Marlins star rookie went 5-for-16 against the Nationals, driving in four runs, scoring three and collecting three extra-base hits.

Chisholm worked with bench coach James Rowson and hitting coach Eric Duncan, taking early batting practice to correct his approach at the plate. During the previous road trip, Chisholm went just 4-for-24 with six strikeouts. When the team returned home, he didn’t fare better against Toronto. Chisholm went 0-for-8 with three more Ks.

So the Marlins second baseman shifted his approach entering the Nationals series and saw immediate results. An otherwise forgettable loss Thursday finished with a three-run blast from Chisholm, his first home run since June 10th. It was his first extra-base hit since June 13th.

Chisholm electrified the home crowd with back-to-back lead off triples in this series. He became the first MLB player to do so since April 2017. All told, the Marlins rookie registered three extra-base hits against the Nationals and now has a four-game hit streak. He’s hit safely in six of his last eight games.

Chisholm struggles in June (.228 batting average, 30 strikeouts, one stolen base) might be coming to an end as the calendar flips to July. Three of his nine extra-base hits this month have come recently, and his production completely changes a lineup that welcomed back Garrett Cooper this weekend.

 

More Marlins Rookies Producing Against the Nationals

Jazz wasn’t the only rookie that got going for the Marlins against the Nationals.

Jesus Sanchez reached base safely in all four against Washington. He went 4-for-13, with a double, two RBI and two walks in the series.

Perhaps most importantly, he struck out just twice in 16 plate appearances (13 percent). That K-rate stands in stark contrast to his career 38 percent rate. Cutting down on K’s remains key to Sanchez’s success, considering he sports a .296 batting-average-on-balls-in-play.

Perhaps more impressive than Sanchez’s solid play has been Zach Thompson. The 27-year-old has been brilliant in his initial MLB run. Through four starts, Thompson pitched 18 innings, allowing just four earned runs and piling up 25 strikeouts.

The Marlins righty fanned 11 Nationals Saturday, most by a Miami pitcher since 2019. Thompson signed as a minor league free agent and posted a 6.60 ERA out of the bullpen for Triple-A Jacksonville. But he had starter experience from his time with the White Sox organization. And as a starter for Miami, Thompson owns a 2.00 ERA.

Thompson’s performance buoys the backend of the starting rotation. Fellow rookie Cody Poteet struggled since returning from injury (10 ER in 9.1 IP, 9.64 ERA) in his three starts. So Thompson’s ability to throw strikes and provide length has been important for this pitching staff.

Anthony Bender continued the record-breaking start to his career as well. The Marlins reliever posted two scoreless innings against the Nationals. Bender’s 21.1 innings without an earned run are tied for fifth-longest streak in MLB history. Two more scoreless innings would tie Bender for third all-time with Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley.

The all-time record belongs to one-time Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler, who started his career with 38 straight innings without an earned run for the Oakland Athletics in 2008.

 

Up Next: at Philadelphia Phillies (36-40)

The Marlins hit the road again, heading Philadelphia for the second time this season. In early May, Miami took two-of-three from the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Marlins will look to continue their success against NL East opponents after splitting the set against the Nationals.

The Marlins hold a 11-6 mark against Philadelphia since the start of last season.

The Phillies, 3-7 over their last 10, saw another bullpen meltdown wash away a lead in Cincinnati last night. Philadelphia led the makeup game 4-2 in the seventh, but ended in a 12-4 loss. The Phillies are hitting .229 with a 5.16 team ERA over their last 10.

Philadelphia expects to throw RHP Vince Velasquez (2-2, 4.74 ERA), RHP Aaron Nola (5-4, 3.97 ERA) and RHP Zach Eflin (2-6, 4.39 ERA) in this series.

Miami touched up Velasquez for 19 earned runs over four starts prior to his six-inning scoreless effort earlier this season. Nola sports a 2.15 ERA over his last nine start against the Marlins. Miami won both games started by Eflin this season, tagging him for five earned runs over 12 IP.

Trevor Rogers (7-4, 2.08 ERA) and Pablo Lopez (4-4, 2.87 ERA) should start for the Marlins during this series. Rogers looks to bounce back from a subpar outing against Toronto, while Lopez seeks to propel the Marlins as he did against the Nationals.

Poteet returned to the IL with a right knee strain, retroactive to June 25th. Jordan Holloway, coming off his own rehab recently, could be in line to start in Poteet’s place. Holloway’s most recent turn in the Jacksonville rotation was skipped.

With nine of the next 13 coming against Philadelphia and Atlanta, the Marlins are poised to make a push back into the division race ahead of the All-Star break.

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