The Marlins (24-26) and Philadelphia Phillies (25-26) faced off for the second time in less than a week. Both teams, though, saw their rosters thinned by injuries. The Marlins lost several key bats, as did the Phillies. Both teams battled and neither leaves this series whole.
Miami’s post-injuries offense proved largely punchless. After posting nine runs in the series opener against the Phillies, the Marlins scored just six runs over the next three games. For context, the team scored seven runs in their final three innings Monday. Take out the three-run eighth on Wednesday and the Marlins scored just three runs in 24 innings against the Phillies.
Part of the problem was a lack of production with runners-in-scoring-position. The Marlins went 4-for-15 with RISP and stranded 20 on base over the last three games. On Thursday, Miami had the bases loaded with no outs and pushed just one run across in a game they ultimately lost by one. Base-running miscues by the Marlins and great defense from the Phillies didn’t help either.
As the team embarks on its latest three-city road trip, there’s real concern with some of the recent injuries.
Injuries Take Their Toll in Marlins-Phillies Series
This series started with positive injury news for Miami. Jorge Alfaro finished his rehab stint in Jacksonville and Starling Marte headed off to start his. Elieser Hernandez continued to prepare for his return from the IL as well. But then things went sideways for the Marlins against the Phillies.
Brian Anderson left Monday’s game with left shoulder soreness and subsequently landed on the IL. Marlins general manager Kim Ng called it a left shoulder subluxation and said the team expects him to miss “several weeks.” Unfortunately, Anderson was busting out of a slump prior to the injury. He’d posted a .371 batting average and 1.006 OPS over his last 11 games.
Jazz Chisholm exited the next game due to a mild right ankle sprain. Garrett Cooper was scratched from the Wednesday’s lineup due to right oblique tightness. Jose Devers got the call for Wednesday, then Lewin Diaz joined the MLB roster for the first time this season Thursday.
Cooper’s loss came as he’s rounding into form. He was Miami’s hottest hitter over the last week, posting a .563 batting average and 1.694 OPS with a pair of clutch homers. He came through with a game-tying pinch-hit RBI single late in the game Thursday, so that’s a good sign. But he followed that by misplaying a fly ball in right field which ultimately led to the Phillies’ winning run.
Late Thursday, the Marlins saw their leader, shortstop Miguel Rojas, dislocate his finger getting picked off at first base. There’s real concern with this injury and he’s likely to miss an extended stretch.
It wasn’t just the ravaged infield either. After his recent start, Nick Neidert landed on the 10-day IL with right biceps inflammation.
Injuries to Test Marlins Depth (Again)
Miami is now missing the entire left side of its infield. During the previous rash of injuries, Marlins manager Don Mattingly called for the team to tread water, and they’ve largely done that. Marte last played April 18th, and prior to his returning, Alfaro went out on April 20th.
Since then, the Marlins have posted a 16-16 record. And during that stretch, both Anderson and Chisholm had IL stints. But now, Anderson and Rojas will miss time, so the team must continue to tread water.
This recent spate of injuries resulted in the newly activated Alfaro getting time in left field Thursday. It was just Alfaro’s second appearance in the outfield, the previous time coming in last season’s 29-9 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
This series also saw rookie pitcher Trevor Rogers used as a pinch hitter.
Mattingly did mention after Thursday’s game that Marte will travel with the team to Boston. Hernandez should come off the 60-day IL during this trip as well.
The worry for the Marlins is not just with the offense. Only Lewin stands as a defensive upgrade among the recent replacements. Berti has committed four errors at third, twice as many as Anderson in a fraction of the opportunities. Isan has committed two errors as well. And Cooper in right field is perhaps the biggest downgrade defensively.
What’s more, this is all coming when the Marlins have to fill the DH role for the first time this season.
Marlins Promote Luis Marte
After designating Shawn Morimando for assignment Wednesday, the 40-man roster sat at 39. According to today’s Jacksonville game preview, the Marlins filled the open spot by promoting infielder Luis Marte.
Per @JaxShrimp: Luis Marte was called up by the Miami Marlins.
Marte, 27, is an INF from the Dominican Republic. pic.twitter.com/7MuZbLBARN
— Daniel Álvarez Montes (@DanielAlvarezEE) May 27, 2021
At 27-years-old, Marte sports 10 years of pro ball experience, but he’s never made it to the Majors. He maneuvered through the Texas Rangers system then spent 2018-2019 in Triple-A with the Atlanta Braves. This offseason, he signed a minor league deal with the Marlins.
After a slow start in Jacksonville, Marte has 10 hits in his last 30 ABs, with two homers, two doubles and eight RBI. He provides the positional versatility Miami desperately needs. He’s played at all four infield positions as well as left field for the Jumbo Shrimp this season. Marte took part in big-league spring training, playing in 12 games and hitting .267.
What complicated matters for Miami was the availability of the most logical fill-ins. Eddy Alvarez is currently on Jacksonville’s temporary inactive list while he readies for Team USA competition and third baseman Joe Dunand is injured. Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez are both on Miami’s 40-man, but neither plays the infield, so that didn’t save the Marlins a move.
The Marlins will need to make room on the 40-man roster once Hernandez is activated. Who gets removed will largely depend upon the state of the active roster as the road trip progresses to Pittsburgh.
Up Next: at Boston Red Sox (30-20)
The Marlins make their way to Boston for an interleague matchup. The Red Sox are coming off splitting a pair against the Braves and are 6-4 over their last 10 games. Boston finds itself, like the Marlins, in a tight divisional race entering the summer.
On Friday, Miami is likely to face LHP Martin Perez (2-2; 3.55 ERA). He’s been Boston’s best pitcher of late, posting a 2.22 ERA over his last five starts. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-2; 4.39 ERA) faces his former club, who he’s dominated in his last three starts (1.59 ERA). The series finale should see Eduardo Rodriguez (5-3; 5.06 ERA). The lefty has struggled in May, going 1-3 with a 6.48 ERA.
Rafael Devers, cousin of Marlins rookie Jose Devers, paces the Red Sox with 14 homers, 15 doubles and 43 RBI. J.D. Martinez has also played well, hitting .319 with 12 homers and 37 RBI. As a team, Boston leads MLB in OPS (.767) and ranks second in batting average (.260). They’re slightly better in both figures at home (.774; .269).
The Red Sox pitching staff checks in at 14th in team ERA (3.92) and 19th in WHIP (1.32). The ERA is slightly worse in Boston (4.09). The bullpen has posted a 3.59 ERA thus far and have converted 14 of 21 save opportunities.
The Marlins, meanwhile, have a 6-4 record over their last 10, a key stretch against NL East opponents the Phillies and Mets. The offense has struggled to overcome the injuries and wasted dominate outings recently from both Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez. If Miami is going to keep pace, the offense needs to produce.