The Marlins (17-20) went to Arizona following a frustrating end to their homestand and after dropping a pair to start the series, Miami managed a four-game split with the Diamondbacks. The Marlins fought back in this series with talented pitching, timely hitting and typical road power.
In the first two losses of this series, the Marlins struggled again with runners in scoring position. As a team, Miami went 2-for-17 with RISP and stranded 11 on base. The Marlins secured Wednesday’s 3-2 win despite going 0-for-11 with RISP.
“It’s not fun,” Pablo Lopez said after the loss Tuesday. “Losing’s not fun.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly echoed that sentiment: “I think the guys are a little frustrated.”
Thursday’s game provided some relief to that frustration, as the team converted five of 11 opportunities with runners in scoring position.
To their credit, the team fought back, as Miguel Rojas said they would. The two wins come at a pivotal time for the Marlins as Miami seeks to keep pace in the competitive NL East. Every loss feels meaningful, especially as the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies start to pull away from the pack.
Poteet Impresses Marlins in Arizona
The Marlins’ revolving door at the backend of the rotation spun again in Arizona. This time, Cody Poteet entered. The 26-year-old rookie made his Major League debut in Arizona for the Marlins and impressed with a mix of power and control.
Poteet went five innings, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out six Diamondbacks. He retired 12 of 13 during one stretch, including striking out the side in the fourth inning. His velo topped out at 96.8 mph and he relied heavily on his four-seam fastball. Poteet kept hitters off balance, though, by mixing in a changeup, curveball and slider.
With the win, Poteet became the first RHP drafted by the Marlins to win his MLB debut since Ryan Tucker on June 8, 2008. He joined Anibal Sanchez and Sixto Sanchez as the only other Marlins starting pitchers to go at least five innings and not allow a walk in his MLB debut.
A fourth-round selection out of UCLA in 2015, Poteet stood among the unheralded prospects in Miami’s system. He made one start this season for Triple-A Jacksonville, surrendering one run, two walks and three hits over 5.2 IP. He struck out 10 in that outing. He’s made nearly 100 starts in the minors prior to this promotion, posting a 3.84 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 400 strikeouts over 510.2 IP.
Pitching Continues to Propel the Marlins
Trevor Rogers stamped another solid start to his resume on Thursday. Pitching in front of 25 friends and family members, including his cousin and former Marlin Cody Ross, Rogers went six innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out seven. Rogers lowered his ERA to 1.84 with the effort.
IS THAT CODY ROSS' MUSIC?
— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) May 14, 2021
Rogers solidified the three-hole in Miami’s rotation, and he’s flashed the potential as a frontline starter. His ERA ranks fifth in MLB, second among lefties. His 57 strikeouts lead the Marlins and all left-handed starters in MLB. They rank 10th overall.
The staff’s combined ERA (3.32) comes in at seventh-best in MLB. And the team’s WHIP (1.16) is eighth. The starter’s ERA (3.36) also ranks seventh, but that combined ERA is swollen thanks to uneven efforts from the fourth and fifth starters this year.
Sandy Alcantara, Lopez and Rogers, Miami’s top three starters, sport a combined ERA of 2.55 so far this season. That would lead the league by a considerable margin. Currently, the San Diego Padres (2.82) pace MLB starters in ERA, with the New York Mets (2.83) trailing right behind.
The other starters have struggled mightily for Miami. Paul Campbell (9.82 ERA), Daniel Castano (5.19), Jordan Holloway (7.36) and Nick Neidert (6.75) share a combined 6.46 ERA over nine starts. They’ve surrendered 26 earned runs in 36.2 innings pitched as starters. Holloway pitched well as a reliever, however.
The surprise, though, has been the Marlins bullpen. Miami relievers have a combined 3.27 ERA, sixth lowest, and a 1.08 WHIP, second lowest. The Marlins ‘pen leads all MLB bullpens in K/BB at 3.60.
Marlins Patient with Pitching Injuries
Poteet’s emergence might help stem the tide as Miami awaits reinforcements from the injured list. Elieser Hernandez traveled with the Marlins to Arizona and was scheduled to pitch multiple live batting practice sessions this week. He’s likely to get at least one rehab outing prior to rejoining the rotation.
Meanwhile, Sixto Sanchez continues through his recovery program. He’s throwing at 105 feet, but the team isn’t rushing him. Marlins general manager Kim Ng joined the Bally Sports Florida broadcast on Friday to say as much.
“We’re not rushing any of these guys,” Ng said. “We want to be conservative in our approach early in the season, because obviously we’ve still got a long road ahead of us and a lot of baseball to be played.”
Aguilar Mashes for Marlins in Arizona
Jesus Aguilar stands among the early mentions for NL All-Star. If not for Ronald Acuña Jr, he’d be more a part of the MVP discussion as well. He’s been a fixture in the Marlins lineup and an integral part of the club’s culture.
Aguilar stands sixth in MLB with nine home runs (2nd in NL). His 32 RBI rank second in MLB (one behind MLB leader J.D. Martinez) and leads the NL. He’s hitting .303 with a .975 OPS (third among qualified 1B, fifth in NL and 12th in MLB).
Aguilar does most of his mashing away from loanDepot park. He leads the league in road homers (9), road RBI (23) and ranks second in road OPS (1.249). Against Arizona, Aguilar went 9-for-17 over the four-game set. He drove in seven runs, hit three homers and three doubles, walked once and struck out only twice.
Aguilar jumpstarted the Marlins offense in Arizona, much like he did on the last road trip. Although the team seems to struggle with runners in scoring position, as a whole Miami’s batting average in that situation ranks ninth in MLB (.254). That speaks to the cold spells this offense slips into. Aguilar leads the Marlins with 12 hits with RISP (.375).
At this rate, Aguilar’s a shoo-in for an All-Star berth. And he continues to provide wonderful moments like this:
Jesús Aguilar: Stealing Signs. pic.twitter.com/K4RenSHFz7
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 14, 2021
Up Next: at Los Angeles Dodgers (20-17)
The second leg of the Marlins 10-game, three-city trip sees them leave Arizona for Los Angeles. Even though the defending champion Dodgers are missing some of their top talent (Cody Bellinger and AJ Pollack), LA will throw two top pitchers at Miami.
Clayton Kershaw (5-3, 2.62) starts opposite Alcantara on Friday. Kershaw sports a 0.99 WHIP and 46 strikeouts. Miami averages 10.32 strikeouts-per-game on the road, so there’s that. It doesn’t get any easier for the Marlins as Trevor Bauer (3-2, 2.50) and his 67 Ks take the hill Saturday. Sunday, LA’s doing a bullpen day, so the Marlins will miss Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.45), who might be the best of the bunch.
The Dodgers are 4-6 in their last 10 games. LA’s posted a .267 batting average and 4.00 ERA, while outscoring opponents by six runs over that span. Justin Turner leads the team in Slugging (.535) and extra-base hits (15). He’s hitting .307 and has seven home runs.
The Marlins, meanwhile, are 6-4 in their last 10. Miami sports a .257 batting average and 2.83 ERA, while outscoring opponents by 10 over that span.
To keep pace in the NL East, the Marlins will need to come up clutch in LA, which is no easy task. The Dodgers are 10-5 at home this season.