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Marlins Bounce Back Against the Braves

by | Apr 16, 2021 | Baseball, Daily Coverage

The Miami Marlins have enjoyed an uneven start to their season to say the least. After opening with a frustrating 1-6 homestand, the team showed signs of life in New York with a rousing win over Mets ace Jacob deGrom. They then proceeded to Atlanta, where the class of the NL East awaited. And in somewhat surprising fashion, Miami managed a 3-1 series victory.

This stretch comes as Miami’s inconsistent offense finally found some rhythm. Breakthroughs at the plate spurred this series, with the Marlins outscoring Atlanta 31-23 through the four-game set.

The 5-7 start for the Fish flashes a familiar resiliency. What’s more, this affords Miami the opportunity to climb in the standings, considering their next 25 games are against teams with a .453 combined winning percentage in 2020.

Ya Like Jazz?

Perhaps the most promising development of the road trip remains the emergence of the offense. Jazz Chisholm Jr. electrified Marlins fans with his homer off deGrom, then continued his hot hitting in Atlanta. He’s riding a four-game hit-streak, where 4-of-5 hits have gone for extra bases, and is aggressive on the base paths.

He even hit the Braves with a Euro-step:

Chisholm continues to shine for Miami, his blue hair beaconing a bright future for the Fish. But he wasn’t the only player to get rolling offensively.

Adam Duvall broke out of his slump to start the season in a loud way in Atlanta. It’s clear Duvallenjoys hitting in Truist Park, as the bopper connected on three homers and a pair of doubles. Duvall tied a franchise record with his 7-RBI performance Tuesday, joining the likes of Brian Anderson (2020), Adeiny Hechavarria (2013), Cody Ross (2006), Greg Colbrunn (1995) and Gary Sheffield (1995).

Duvall came through with a clutch, pinch-hit double to tie the game late Thursday, and saw his average jump over 100 points (.136 to .278) after tallying seven hits in the series. He returns home riding a five-game hitting streak.

Starling Marte continued his solid start as well, gathering five hits including his first homer of the season. Corey Dickerson showed signs of life at the plate, too, with five hits in the series.

Marlins Bullpen Shuffle

Prior to the Marlins’ win over deGrom, the controversial ending in New York masked a disturbing issue: Miami’s bullpen gives up too many home runs. That troubling trend continued in Atlanta. Marlins relievers have surrendered ten homers (most in the NL; T-2nd overall) and combined for a 5.03 ERA (26th). They’ve blown six saves through 12 games, most in MLB.

Anthony Bass signed with Miami this offseason as heir-apparent to Brandon Kintzler’s closer role, but he’s blown both save opportunities and sports a bloated 10.80 ERA. He’s improved of late, though.

While Marlins manager Don Mattingly claimed it was “too early to make a judgement” on Bass as a closer, he’s clearly made a move at the backend of his bullpen. Bass’s last three appearanceshave been in the seventh inning, while Yimi Garcia has assumed the closer role.

Garcia closed Miami’s 3-0 win over deGrom and the Mets following that tough loss. Since, he finished the Marlins’ 5-3 win over Atlanta, getting the win, then earned his second save in as many chances in the 6-5 victory Wednesday.

Mattingly implied during a Zoom call earlier this week that he’d spread around save chances, saying: “I think it’s really nice to have those options when you have three to four, even five guys at least, that you feel like have pitched in the back end of games,” but that’s not something he’s done in the past.

He called having established closer capable of saving 40 games an expensive luxury, but Garcia seems primed to make that leap. With Garcia unavailable Thursday, Dylan Floro got his first chance to close. Unfortunately, he blew the save, taking the loss in the series finale versus the Braves.

As far as the rest of the ‘pen, Ross Detweiler has been a standout, but the team may need to worry about Rule-5 acquisition Zach Pop soon, considering his ERA sits at 18.90. He’s given up a pair of homers over 3.1 innings pitched, including a gut-wrenching three-run bomb to Pablo Sandoval on Thursday.

Giants Up Next

The Marlins host San Francisco (7-4) for a three-game tilt this weekend. This is the first time these two clubs will have played each other since 2019. But they won’t have to wait another two years for their next matchup, because that’s next week.On Friday, the Marlins likely face Anthony DeSclafani. He debuted with Miami back in 2014, but the Marlins traded him as part of the Mat Latos deal with the Reds. DeSclafani is 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA in four career starts against the Fish.

The Marlins should also see right-hander Aaron Sanchez. He’s 0-1 this season with a 2.70 ERA and seven strikeouts over 10 innings pitched. He’s only made one career start against Miami, surrendering five runs over 4.1 innings while pitching for the Blue Jays in 2019.

On Sunday, the Giants expect to start Alex Wood. The lefty is coming off the injured list and making his season and San Francisco debut.

San Francisco’s hottest hitter to start the season has been former Marlin Donovan Solano. He’s slashing .353/.395/.412 over 11 games. The shortstop broke into MLB with Miami in 2012, playing well with the Fish until 2015.

The Giants’ lineup has some pop to it, as the team has combined to hit 17 homers already this season (5th-most entering Thursday night). Their bullpen has allowed just seven runs over their last 33.2 innings pitched (1.89 ERA).

The Marlins-Giants rivalry remains one of the oddest in MLB, with Miami taking both postseason matchups in dramatic fashion, including one of the most iconic moments in franchise history with Ivan Rodriguez’s collision with J.T. Snow to win the series. Although they’ve struggled through most of the last decade, the Marlins dominated San Francisco in the 2010’s, winning the decade 37 of the 66 games.

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