The Marlins (39-50) entered this series against the Braves (44-45) coming off an impressive showing against the LA Dodgers. Miami again seemed poised to make a move up the NL East standings, but couldn’t capitalize on their latest opportunity.
Unfortunately, the Marlins problems in this series against the Braves proved to be similar to those that have plagued the team throughout the season. First, an offensive no-show that resulted in Miami’s 10th shut-out loss of the season. Then, another one-run loss, their 20th of the season (tied for the most in MLB).
While the division-leading New York Mets (47-40) have done little to separate themselves from the pack, the Marlins remain 9.0 games back in the NL East. To get back into contention for the division, the Marlins will need a magical post-All-Star run. According to Baseball Reference, Miami still sports a 3.1 percent chance of winning the division, but just a 0.1 percent shot at the Wild Card.
All of this likely indicates Miami will approach the trade deadline as sellers rather than buyers. That’s not to say they won’t look to add, but it’s unlikely the team makes a win-now move that jeopardizes the future.
Ironically, it’s the future that many Marlins fans pivoted to after Sunday’s win. The Marlins landed a pair of highly-touted prospects on the first day of the MLB Draft and saw two of their top pitching prospects perform well at the Futures Game.
Same Issues Haunt Marlins vs Braves
Throughout the season, the Marlins offense has struggled to produce with any kind of consistency. That proved to be the case again Friday, when Braves starter Charlie Morton silenced Marlins bats. Miami managed a meager two hits in this one, going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.
The inconsistencies couldn’t be any clearer than when looking at Miami’s last two efforts against Morton. On July 4th, the Marlins roughed up the Braves starter to the tune of four earned runs over 5.1 innings pitched. Sunday, however, a lineup that was almost exactly the same as it was on the 4th did almost nothing against the same pitcher. Morton stymied any offense opportunities and the Marlins went quietly into the loss column.
Saturday saw the Marlins take an early lead against the Braves, but Miami’s All-Star Trevor Rogers couldn’t hold it. From there, the offense couldn’t come up with the clutch hit when needed. Although they scored four runs, the Marlins went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners on base in the one-run loss.
Rogers lacked the velocity and sharpness that characterized much of the rookie’s run this season. He surrendered four hits and two walks, and committed a fielding error. Rogers tallied just four strikeouts. Over his last four starts, he sports a 4.12 ERA and hasn’t finished six innings.
Jazz Chisholm provided the Marlins the highlight of the night with his inside-the-park home run but it came at the expensive of Braves All-Star Ronald Acuña Jr, who tore his ACL on the play. Chisholm’s up-and-down 2021 has provided Marlins fans with hope and excitement for the future. The rookie enters the All-Star break with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases, so he could reach the 20/20 plateau by season’s end.
Marlins Future Bright Despite Series Loss to Braves
Rogers seems confident he’ll make the right adjustments and Chisholm also feels he could improve.
“For me, I feel like I could be way better, honestly, and help my team to get better in the future,” Chisholm said. “Next half, I’m expecting to come out there and be the best, help my team win more games than we won in the first half and just keep on advancing from there.”
The future played out on multiple fronts for Miami. The Marlins saw rookie left fielder Jesus Sanchez play well against the Braves. Sanchez went 4-for-6 between Saturday and Sunday, and was a home run shy of the first Marlins cycle.
The 22-year-old starters pitch for the Marlins Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, and both seem poised to move quickly through Miami’s system. Meyer sports a 4-1 record with a 1.67 ERA and 54 strikeouts over 54 IP. Eder, meanwhile, leads Double-A South in batting-average-against (.151), ERA (1.03) and WHIP (0.91). He ranks second in strikeouts (76).
During day one of the MLB Draft, the Marlins nabbed Kahlil Watson, the highly-rated high school shortstop, with the 16th overall selection. Miami then chose high school catcher Joe Mack in Competitive Balance Round A (pick 31 overall).
Watson checked in as the No. 4-overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and Marlins director of amateur scouting, DJ Svihlik, compared him to Jimmy Rollins. Watson’s speed and versatility could see him play all over the field.
Mack, meanwhile, fits a need in Miami’s system at catcher. MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo called him “maybe the best all-around catching prospect in this class.”
Up Next: at Philadelphia Phillies (44-44)
The Marlins come out of the All-Star Break and continue their run against NL East rivals. Miami heads north to face the Phillies, who they’ve played well against the season. The Marlins are 5-4 in 2021 against Philadelphia and split their last two against the Phils.
If the Marlins are going to make a run back into contention in the NL East, it starts with Friday’s doubleheader. The Marlins took two-of-three in Philadelphia back in May and need a convincing series win if they plan on making a playoff push. After this stop, the Marlins move on to Washington and face the only NL East team they have a losing record against (2-5).
These next seven games could define the remainder of Miami’s season. After the Marlins lost two-of-three to the Braves, they lost ground in the division and seem more likely to sell off veterans than add at the trade deadline.
The Marlins offense flounders in the bottom third of MLB in most categories, despite having two top-10 run producers in Jesus Aguilar and Adam Duvall (T-6th, 62 RBI). Miami ranks 20th in batting average (.233), 26th in homers (88) and 28th in OPS (.674).
Pitching has carried the Marlins throughout the season. The staff ranks fifth in ERA (3.43), seventh in WHIP (1.19) and eighth in batting-average-against (.227). They’ve surrendered the fewest homers (72) and fourth-fewest runs (299).
Although the bullpen’s ERA ranks sixth (3.41), Miami relievers have combined for a whopping 18 blown saves. That’s tied for second-most in MLB, behind only Philadelphia (22).
The Marlins expect to have Sandy Alcantara (5-8, 3.09) and Pablo Lopez (5-5, 3.03), fresh off his MLB-record nine strikeouts to start a game, ready for this series in Philadelphia. Rogers’ availability likely depends upon his usage in the All-Star game.