The Marlins (31-42) returned home to face Toronto after another difficult road trip, hoping for better results. Miami’s been good at loanDepot park, holding a 16-14 home record entering this two-game tilt. But ineffective offense, once again, sunk any chance the Marlins had to top Toronto.
After a pair of rousing victories in Chicago, the Marlins offense went silent yet again. Miami posted 21 runs in the first two games against the Cubs, but in the three since, the team managed a meager two runs scored. Total. Each of the three losses came despite solid pitching efforts, as the staff surrendered seven runs over that span.
This three-game skid resulted in a record now a season-low 11 games under .500. Miami finds itself nine games behind the pace in the NL East and further (12 games back) in the Wild Card race. Barring an unlikely win streak, the Marlins front office stands with important decisions regarding the roster as the trade deadline approaches.
Marlins Offensive ‘Source of Frustration’ vs Toronto
This Marlins season has been maddening for several reasons, but perhaps chief among them is offensive inconsistency. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said so during his media availability after the loss to Toronto.
“I think that’s probably been our biggest question all year long,” Mattingly said of the offense. “We see us kind of break out…what we’re capable of, and then it gets back to where we have trouble getting anything done.”
Miami averages 3.88 runs-per-game this season (28th). The Marlins managed just one run in both losses to Toronto. Mattingly bemoaned the inconsistency, calling it “probably…the most frustrating for all of us as a group.”
Mattingly went on to say they don’t need to put up 10 or 11 runs, just three or four in order to “consistently mount an attack on a nightly basis where we’re giving ourselves chances.”
There’s something to that, considering Miami’s pitching staff surrenders just 3.67 runs-per-game, the fifth-lowest mark in MLB.
The staff has kept opponents to three-or-fewer-runs in 40 of 73 games. If the Marlins scored exactly four runs in each game this season, and splitting the six games where four runs were allowed, the record would be 43-30.
A look at the advanced statistics indicates the Marlins expected record, based on Runs Scored and Runs Allowed, is 38-35. The minus-seven differential between expected and actual record stands as the widest gap in the league.
Expectations don’t matter, though, results do.
In one-run games, the Marlins sport a 5-16 record (.238). Only Arizona holds a worse winning-percentage in one-run contests (.105). In two-run games, Miami’s mark isn’t much better: 7-13. Unsurprisingly, the Marlins are 10-6 in games where the differential is five-runs-or-more.
“I think that’s been our biggest issue and source of frustration for us all year,” Mattingly said.
Marlins Must Consider Trades Following Sweep to Toronto
As the Marlins near the month of July, MLB’s trade deadline looms. The team expected to remain in the playoff chase throughout the summer, but injuries and inconsistent offense have sabotaged those efforts. The latest frustrations came clear during the Marlins two-game sweep at the hands of Toronto, a team that has no trouble scoring runs.
Starling Marte stands as the most likely trade candidate should Miami’s front office elect to “sell” at the deadline. The Marlins centerfielder provided the lone run against Toronto on Wednesday, connecting on his sixth homer of the season. He’s driven in 17 runs with a .326 batting average and .954 OPS.
Marte said recently he’d like to end his career in Miami, but as of mid-June, the Marlins had yet to speak with his representatives about an extension. Craig Mish said on a recent Swings and Mishes podcast episode that the team would be willing to do a two-year, $30-million-ish deal, but Marte will command more than that in free agency.
The other position players to watch are Jesus Aguilar and Garrett Cooper. Aguilar makes $4.3 million this season and has one additional season of arbitration before unrestricted free agency. He’s second on the team in homers (12) and RBI (50), but he’s due $10 million next season and the team has Lewin Diaz waiting in the wings.
Cooper, meanwhile, has two years of arbitration remaining, but he’s currently injured. He could prove valuable as a DH, but the Marlins may hang on to him in hopes of a Universal DH next season.
Returns for these players, even Marte, aren’t likely to excite too much, considering the low cost contending teams tend to pay for rentals on the trade market.
Bullpen Arms the Marlins Might Move
MLB’s trade deadline always features a bevy of bullpen arms changing teams. Despite some of the struggles Miami relievers have had, some could provide value on the market.
Yimi Garcia might be a sought-after arm for a contender, considering his high-leverage capability. After a dominant 2020, Garcia has regressed in 2021 (2.89 ERA, six losses) but he has experience and a reasonable $1.9-million salary. Considering his pending free agency, he won’t fetch the Marlins much, but he could net something.
Some of the other relievers that might go include Richard Bleier, Adam Cimber and Dylan Floro. Each have at least one season remaining of arbitration, and Cimber and Floro both make less than $1 million. Cimber may prove valuable considering he offers a different look off the mound. Floro has valuable postseason experience, despite his struggles this year (3.72 ERA, four losses). Bleier, meanwhile, makes $1.4 million but has been good against lefties and has wiggled out of some tight, high-leverage situations.
Up Next: vs Washington Nationals (35-36)
The Marlins gear up for another round with Washington this week. The Nationals enter this four-game set streaking, having won nine of their last 10 games. The Marlins, conversely, find themselves slipping in the opposite direction. What’s more, Washington swept the three-game series between these two clubs in earlier this season.
Washington’s current four-game winning streak vaulted them up the NL East standings to second place. Over their last 10, the Nationals are hitting .297, with a 2.83 team ERA. They’ve outscored opponents by 21 runs.
Kyle Schwarber leads Washington with 19 homers, 45 RBI and a .844 OPS. Trea Turner also has a .844 OPS and leads the team with a .315 batting average. Juan Soto checks in with a .274 average and .825 OPS.
The Nationals expect to roll out RHP Joe Ross (3-7, 4.54), LHP Jon Lester (1-2, 3.96), LHP Patrick Corbin (5-5, 5.40) and RHP Max Scherzer (6-4, 2.19) in this series. Time will tell if Mattingly will ask umpires to check Scherzer multiple times for “sticky stuff.”
The Marlins, following the two losses to Toronto, probably counter with Cody Poteet (2-2, 3.90), Pablo Lopez(3-4, 2.86), Zach Thompson (1-2, 1.50) and Sandy Alcantara (4-6, 2.93). Whether the offense provides these pitchers with any runs support remains to be seen.
Miami sports a 3-7 over their last 10 games, with a .201 team batting average and 2.40 team ERA. Miami has been solid against the NL East, with 12-10 record, and at home (16-16). The Nationals are 14-18 on the road this season, but 24-16 against teams below .500.