The Marlins (15-18) entered this series versus Milwaukee on something of a slide. A disastrous 10-game road trip caused the team to limp home with a heavy IL and having lost seven of 10. Thanks to a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami managed to reverse that momentum.
But after taking the opener against Milwaukee, Miami couldn’t muster enough offense to close the weekend. The Marlins posted six runs Friday but managed just three runs combined in the next two games. A familiar struggle with runners in scoring position surfaced over the weened. Miami went 1-for-8 in those situations, including 0-for-7 Sunday, and stranded 11 base runners. And on top of that, the Marlins saw two runners picked off at first base yesterday.
The loss to Milwaukee added to the Marlins’ struggles in close games this season. Dropping the 2-1 decision to Milwaukee meant the Marlins’ record in one-run games worsened to 2-8. Last season, the team posted a 11-8 record in such contests.
Despite the struggles, Miami righted the ship coming off a difficult road trip. The Marlins finished the homestand 4-2 to keep pace in the tightly packed NL East.
“You don’t want to lose the last couple of the homestand, but I think we have to look at it in general: We got off that other trip [and] got our momentum back a little bit,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Sunday. “I think guys are feeling pretty good about it…We’re not a club that’s just going to fold up when we lose a couple.”
As Miami embarks on another 10-game trip, reinforcements are near. Both Jazz Chisholm Jr and Jorge Alfaro have been assigned to rehab stints with Triple-A Jacksonville. Elieser Hernandez is nearing a rehab assignment as well.
Marlins Positives vs Milwaukee: Lewis Brinson Breakout
When Starling Marte landed on the IL, questions swirled about how Mattingly might fill the void. Mattingly approached this problem by rotating different players into the position. Against Milwaukee, three different players started in center field. But Lewis Brinson’s recent performance may have earned him a longer look at this point.
On Sunday against Milwaukee, Brinson posted his best stat line of the season for the Marlins. The 27-year-old outfielder went 3-for-4, connecting on a clutch, game-tying home run in the seventh inning. It looked like just the spark the Marlins offense needed, but alas, the team couldn’t build on Brinson’s success.
“It definitely felt good,” Brinson admitted after the game. It’s certainly good to see this young man finally finding a measure of consistency and success after a few seasons of struggle.
Brinson’s batting average bottomed out this season at .091 on April 24th. Since then, he’s raised his average nearly .150 points. Over his last seven games, Brinson sports a .348 batting average with a 1.044 OPS. He’s driven in four, hit two doubles and connected on a pair of homers.
Brinson said Sunday the team “battled all the way to the end” and he’s done that all season long. Marte remains a ways away from returning to the team. He’s started to increase his rotational strength, but he’s yet to begin baseball activities.
Having consistent production from Brinson will buoy Miami’s efforts while Marte heals. Mattingly may rotate the players in center over the course of the next month, but if Brinson stays hot, he’ll take the job.
Marlins Pitching Continues to Help vs Milwaukee
Sandy Alcantara continued his strong string of starts this season. Although missing some of his normal sharpness, Alcantara still batted for seven innings. He gave up one earned run on Daniel Vogelbach’s homer in the fourth. Sandy scattered four other hits and walked two. He struck out six and ultimately lowered his ERA to 2.72 with the performance.
Trevor Rogers also provided further evidence he could be a frontline starter for years to come. On Friday, Rogers went five innings and struck out six, surrendering just one earned run. He lowered his ERA to 1.89 and leads the team with 50 strikeouts. His four wins also pace the pitching staff.
Anthony Bender maintained his momentum to start his MLB career. Bender blew away a pair of Brewers in his inning on Saturday. Bender’s started his career with three consecutive scoreless appearances. He’s given up just one hit and struck out five over 3.0 IP thus far.
Zach Pop ran his scoreless innings streak to 8.2 with his latest outing. Ever since giving up a three-run homer in Atlanta on April 15th, Pop has been fantastic. Over his scoreless span, he’s given up just four hits (though it should be three with a fielding error). He’s limited walks to two. Pop’s lowered his ERA to 5.25, his batting-average-against to .163 and his WHIP to 1.00.
The Marlins’ staff ERA ranks third overall in MLB at 3.16 and fourth in WHIP (1.14). They’ve issued the third-fewest walks (97) and allowed the third-fewest runs (116).
Miami’s offense, meanwhile, scores 4.12 runs-per-game this season (21st in MLB). But they’re better on the road (4.31) than at home (3.94). The team’s OPS (on-base-plus-slugging) stands at .669 (25th). It’s a shame the offense hasn’t produced more for this staff.
Up Next: at Arizona Diamondbacks (15-19)
The Marlins hit the road again, embarking on a 10-game, three-city trip. This pivotal road stretch includes stops in Arizona, Los Angeles (versus the Dodgers) and Philadelphia. Miami limped through its last trip with a 3-7 record. To keep pace in the NL East, the Marlins must manage something better than that.
The first stop on this trek is Arizona. Miami recently swept the Diamondbacks, then Arizona got swept by the New York Mets. The Diamondbacks seek to stabilize things at home, where they’re 6-5 this season. Although the team remains without Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun, Miami must reckon with a solid opposing lineup. Arizona’s team on-base percentage of .315 is eighth in the league. Eduardo Escobar leads the Diamondbacks with seven homers and has 18 RBI, but his batting average is just .222.
Arizona enters having lost six straight. They’re 3-7 in their last 10, with a .243 team batting average and a 5.48 combined ERA. Over that stretch, the Diamondbacks have been outscored by 18 runs.
The Marlins, meanwhile, continue to tread water with a number of players missing. Miami has a 5-5 record over their last 10, and even though the team’s batting average is just .221, they’ve outscored opponents by 12 over that span. That’s mostly because the team’s ERA is 2.23.
In the last matchup between these two clubs, Miami outscored the Diamondbacks by 16 runs. They’ll see Luke Weaver (1-3, 6.07) again, who they scored six runs over four innings on. Madison Bumgarner (3-2, 4.91) stands to start Tuesday, while former Marlin Zac Gallen (1-1, 3.04) should go Wednesday.