The Miami Marlins (11-13) demonstrated their resiliency taking two-of-three against the Brewers (14-10) in Milwaukee. During this series, the worrisome number of injuries grew, as rookie Jazz Chisholm Jr landed on the 10-day IL. In addition, the team saw Garrett Cooper and Corey Dickerson exit Wednesday’s contest with injury concerns.
This spate of injures continued to test the Marlins’ depth. But even with the roster flux, Miami has bounced back from a 1-6 start to post a 10-7 record since. Although the rotation remains without Sixto Sanchez and Elieser Hernandez, Miami’s starters have carried the club. The bullpen improved from their early struggles to be effective as well.
Injuries cannot be held up as excuses for the Marlins. Although other teams IL situations might not be as dire, those clubs are missing key players, too. The offense remains inconsistent. Secondly, the replacements need to provide more production. Furthermore, it might be time to question the training staff. The pitchers can only do so much.
Jesus Aguilar’s resurgence has been something to behold. After starting the season without a home run through 18 games, Aguilar found his power stroke of late. Perhaps it was the change in diet. Whatever it is, Aguilar needs to keep it up, considering the state of the lineup.
Aguilar and his arepas powered the Marlins to the series win in Milwaukee. He connected on his fifth homer in six games during Miami’s 6-2 victory over the Brewers.
This binge brings Aguilar’s RBI total to an NL-leading 22 through Wednesday’s games. He’s tied with Texas Rangers first baseman Nate Lowe for the MLB lead. Further, his .921 OPS leads all NL first baseman and ranks 25th overall in MLB. Only Chisholm (.926) has a higher OPS among Marlins.
Aguilar said Wednesday he’s been seeing the ball well and putting good swings on the ball. He noted it was particularly sweet to do it in this series against his former team. Aguilar played in Milwaukee for parts of three seasons and earned an NL All-Star berth in 2018. He hit 35 homers and registered 108 RBI for the Brewers that year.
“I gotta keep going,” Aguilar said. “I got to keep doing my job.”
Aguilar’s three-run shot in the fourth inning Wednesday provided starter Sandy Alcantara the cushion he would need. Alcantara entered his sixth start with the third-lowest run support in the NL (2.12). But after going 7.0 IP with Miami scoring six runs, that figure grew to 3.83.
Injuries Mounting as Marlins are ‘Treading Water’
Over the last few weeks, the Marlins watched as too many of their position players came up lame. Starling Marte, Jorge Alfaro, Brian Anderson and Chisholm all occupy the IL at present. Then Cooper and Dickerson exited Wednesday’s game, too.
Cooper fouled a ball off his foot and came out in the fourth. Dickerson subsequently left with groin soreness. Thankfully, Cooper’s x-ray came back negative, so he’s day-to-day. And Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Dickerson’s removal was precautionary, so he could be available after Thursday’s off day.
Alfaro didn’t travel on this road trip, so he’s still a ways away. Marte, meanwhile, seems ticketed for an extended stay on the disabled list. He’s yet to resume baseball activities in the wake of his injury.
Chisholm went to the IL Wednesday. The team remains optimistic this’ll be a short stint. And Mattingly said as much in the postgame presser. Hamstring injuries can be tricky though, as was seen when Alfaro aggravated his recently. Chisholm could be out for a few weeks, but he doesn’t seem to think so.
I’ll be back soon 😉
— Jazz Chisholm Jr (@j_chisholm3) April 29, 2021
Miami botched Anderson’s IL move and were forced to call-up 21-year-old Jose Devers. They mismanaged the taxi squad and couldn’t call-up Isan Diaz initially. Anderson’s activation likely means Devers, who’s not ready for MLB play just yet, will be sent down.
“We’re kind of treading water, keeping ourselves going while we’re in this little lull of injuries,” Mattingly said. “It’s going to be hopefully a short period of time. We’ve got to just continue to get down the road and tread water and keep ourselves in the pack and knowing that you still got a lot of baseball to be played.”
Marlins Options with Injuries
Joe Dunand and Eddy Alvarez weren’t realistic options to replace Anderson. Neither was on the taxi squad nor on Miami’s 40-man. Recalling either would necessitate a roster move (perhaps transferring Jorge Guzman to the 60-day IL).
The Marlins list Rule-5 pick Paul Campbell as the starter for Saturday. Campbell left questions about his effectiveness long term and Saturday’s start will go a long way to determining his future. He’s given up nine runs and 17 base runners over 7.2 IP thus far. In addition, Miami optioned Daniel Castano to the alternate training site Thursday.
Hernandez could rejoin the starting rotation in May barring a setback. He’s progressing through his throwing program and should toss a bullpen session soon.
Nick Neidert (0-1, 6.75) could get another look but he must find consistency. Over 12.0 IP this season, Neidert surrendered 13 hits, 11 walks and one HBP. His WHIP sits at a whopping 2.00.
Jordan Holloway has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen thus far. But he moved through the Marlins system as a starter. He’s thrown 5.0 innings thus far, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out six. Miami also has minor league free agent Shawn Morimando on the taxi squad. Injuries could press the 28-year-old reliever into a spot start for the Marlins.
Braxton Garrett, however, remains an unlikely recall. He could be used as a trade chip this season after making two starts in 2020. The 23-year-old lefty gave up five earned runs, including three homers, over 7.2 IP. Garrett made two appearances for the Marlins this Spring, pitching 4.0 innings and allowing just one hit. He walked three and struck out three.
Up Next: at Washington Nationals (9-12)
Washington sports similar difficulties these days with injuries. Following a COVID-19 outbreak at the start of the season, the Nats watched several of their top players land on the IL, notably Juan Soto and Stephen Strasburg.
Washington placed star outfielder Juan Soto on the 10-day IL on April 20th (left shoulder strain). Though he’s reportedly been able to hit with no issues, Soto has yet to attempt to throw as of Wednesday. Once he starts throwing, it could be an additional few days before the team activates him.
Veteran starter Jon Lester seems poised to make his season debut for the Nationals in this series. He opened the season on the COVID-19 list but has made three rehab starts at Washington’s alternate training site in Fredericksburg.
The Nats remain cautious with their pitching, and off days afford them the luxury of a four-man rotation. Max Scherzer (1-2, 3.00) stands to start Sunday’s series finale and the Marlins are likely to see two of the following three Friday and Saturday: Lester, Joe Ross (2-1, 4.64) and Patrick Corbin (0-3, 10.47).
Shortstop Trea Turner runs the Nationals offense these days. For the season, he’s hitting .317 with a .949 OPS, four doubles, five steals, six homers and 10 RBI. Over his last five games, he’s recorded seven hits, including a pair of homers, and a 1.165 OPS.
Washington sports a 5-5 record over their last 10 games. In 2020, the Marlins took the season series 6-4. Pablo Lopez won both of his starts against the Nationals last season, allowing just two earned runs and recording 10 strikeouts over 10.1 IP.