The Miami Marlins (40-53) entered the All-Star break seeking a moment to steel themselves for the remainder of the season. Miami harbored hopes of contention ahead of the trade deadline. But now, after a series loss in Philadelphia that also saw the Marlins absorb addition injuries, eyes should shift to 2022 and beyond.
Despite exiting the All-Star break nine games back in the NL East, the Marlins knew this seven-game stretch against division opponents could vault the team back into contention. The New York Mets (48-42) floundered a golden opportunity to take hold of the NL East by losing four of seven against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Miami opened the post-All-Game slate against the Phillies, a team they’ve owned of late. But the Marlins, as has been the case much of the season, couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
“It didn’t go the way we planned,” said Marlins outfielder Adam Duvall.
That’s putting it mildly.
Marlins See Season Slip Away in Philadelphia
Although the team sported a winning record against the Phillies over the last two seasons combined, the Marlins couldn’t put it together in Philadelphia this time. In the first game of the doubleheader, Sandy Alcantarastruggled, the defense let him down and the offense failed in clutch situations.
Game Two of the doubleheader featured an offensive explosion and an encouraging outing from Jordan Holloway, but that result gets washed away considering what happened the remainder of the weekend.
Sunday was a disaster. With a chance to get two wins and steal the series, the Marlins saw their former catcher walk them off, before the injury-riddled full game that followed. Realmuto’s game-winning homer saddled Marlins closer Yimi Garcia with his seventh loss of the season.
“It was kind of one of those days,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You start off hopeful where you’re at, hopefully able to put two on the board and you don’t get either one, and then you see Jazz go down and you see Coop go down.”
Injuries continue to mar the Marlins season. Prior to the series, Pablo Lopez landed on the 10-day IL with a shoulder strain. Rookie Jesus Sanchez also found himself on the IL, though the reasoning was undisclosed. In the past, that has often meant the IL stay was COVID-related.
The roster churn will continue once the extent of the injuries to Jazz Chisholm and Garrett Cooper are determined. Despite Brian Anderson being on the verge of return, it’s hard to image the Marlins can salvage anything from this stretch of the season, considering the lack of available starting pitching depth and the lack of offensive production from the replacement-level players.
Leaving Philadelphia, the Marlins sit a season-high 13 games under .500 and trail New York by 9.5 games.
Marlins Expected to be Sellers as Lost Season Persists
There’s little hope of a playoff push at this point. The Marlins now must shift their sights to 2022 and beyond, considering the depths they’ve slipped to this season. But the recent spate of injuries has the potential to short-circuit whatever evaluative value remained this season.
As Craig Mish reported yesterday, extension talks between Miami and Starling Marte have ended. This puts Marte squarely on the trade block, and the Marlins would do well to deal him by the end of the month.
Extension talks are over between Starling Marte and the Marlins per sources. As I reported previously they were never close. Miami now can move forward with trade proposals.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) July 19, 2021
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Astros, Phillies and Yankees stand among the teams who’ve checked-in on Marte. The Marlins must create a bidding war for Marte’s services, to drive the price up, considering the in-season trade haul for a pending free agent is rarely lucrative.
While dealing Marte should be the Marlins’ primary focus (despite the lack of a clear, long-term answer in centerfield), the season slipping away also dictates other moves.
While the severity of Cooper’s injury to be determined in the coming days, the Marlins should also look to trade Jesus Aguilar. The arepa-powered first baseman’s recent hot streak should only inflate his value to power-strapped teams.
Another reason to move Aguilar is, Miami needs to see if Lewin Diaz can consistently handle MLB pitching before this season becomes utterly meaningless. Waiting until September, when many teams have shuttered competitive hopes, would be a mistake. Although Diaz found his power stroke in July (six homers, two doubles), he seemingly hurt himself during Sunday’s game in Durham.
The Marlins also need to consider dealing any bullpen arm other teams ask about. Garcia’s failures as a closer aside, he could help a contending team as a high-leverage set-up man.
Marlins said willing to consider anything that makes their club better (meaning no untouchables), though rivals see Sandy Alcantara and especially Trevor Rogers as not especially likely to be dealt. In any case, Fish 🐠 are expected to be very active!
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 18, 2021
Up Next: at Washington Nationals (43-49)
The Marlins continue this post-All-Star road trip with their second stop in Washington this season. The Nationals swept Miami’s last visit to DC, and the teams split their most recent series at loanDepot park.
For the Marlins, they’re catching Washington amid a 3-7 stretch that saw the Nats lose six-in-a-row to sink in the standings. If the Nationals harbor any hope of contention this season, they’ll need to improve their play immediately.
The Marlins are 2-5 against Washington this season and suffered through Kyle Schwarber’s June home run binge. Although they’ve struggled of late, the Nationals offense is still hitting at a .300 clip over their last 10 games. The biggest problem for Washington has been pitching. Over that 10-game span, the Nats team ERA sits at 7.56.
Miami, meanwhile, sports a 4-6 record over their last 10 games, but are coming off a difficult series loss to the Phillies. The Marlins are hitting .236, with a 3.48 team ERA over that span. Inconsistencies on offense and out of the ‘pen continue to haunt Miami.
The Marlins will miss Max Scherzer’s turn in the rotation and probably Patrick Corbin as well. That could mean the Nationals will throw Jon Lester (2-4, 5.54) and Erick Fedde (4-7, 5.32) at some point. For Miami, Lopez’s injury and maintenance for Trevor Rogers means Monday is likely a bullpen day.
Miami’s first order of business this week remains addressing injury concerns with Chisholm and Cooper, and filling out the vacant roster spots. It’ll be interesting to see if the Marlins add infield prospect Bryson Brigman to the mix, but that would necessitate a 40-man roster move.