MO2 overview: Marlins’ bat awaken in Citrus Series finale; Elieser injured

MO2 overview: Marlins’ bat awaken in Citrus Series finale; Elieser injured


The Miami Marlins salvaged the Citrus Series finale with a 12-7 win over the Rays at loanDepot park, but Miami starter Elieser Hernandez exited with an injury

By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd

MIAMI — What Miami Marlins fans are seeing now is the makings of a team, over the reliance on a core.

That’s the biggest difference between what is currently constructed compared to, say, 2017, when Giancarlo Stanton was the N.L. MVP, and Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto were rising stars.

In 2017, there was real star power, but not the overall depth that the Marlins are running out there now.

Cooper, Berti and Wallach didn’t start on Opening Day

On Saturday night, the Marlins’ offense broke out on a night third baseman Brian Anderson, catcher Jorge Alfaro and left fielder Corey Dickerson were given an early-season breather.

The Marlins still rolled to a 12-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to salvage the series finale at loanDepot park.

“We look at this as a group,” manager Don Mattingly said during his postgame Zoom call. “We’re going to need all these guys.”

Collectively, the Marlins had production up and down the order, delivering 14 hits and five walks. Starling Marte went 4-for-5 with a triple, Garrett Cooper homered, had three hits and drove in three runs. Jesus Aguilar drove in two runs, Miguel Rojas scored three times. Jazz Chisholm Jr. stole a couple of bases, Jon Berti had two hits hits and a pair of RBIs, and Chad Wallach was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Adam Duvall, a starter the first two games, had a pinch-hit homer.

Starling Marte

You get the point. Everybody was part of the act.

So what does it say about Miami’s depth?

“I think it says a lot,” Mattingly said. “I think we’re going to be a club that we’re going to be able to feel comfortable with whoever we put on the field. I think it’s going to be important over the course of the season.”

Cooper, playing right field, is part of a configuration to be on the field either in right field or first base.

Cooper actually could have had a fourth hit, but his hot liner was dropped in right field by Austin Meadows. It was ruled an error.

“Just to help the team tonight was huge,” Cooper said postgame on Bally Sports Florida. “Came up last night and didn’t deliver in a few spots. I was a little frustrated with how I swung last night. So, I think getting back out here tonight, and working extra in the cage before the game paid off huge.”

To cap the night off, the win was the first for Marlins general manager Kim Ng.

Elieser injured: After a relatively healthy Spring Training, the Marlins are suddenly dealing with some injury concerns. Their starting pitching depth is being tested.

In the third inning, Elieser Hernandez exited with inflammation of his right biceps tendon. The decision to take him out was a relatively quick one after the right-hander struck out Rich Hill on an 86.2 mph four-seam fastball.

Paul Campbell, one of two Miami Rule 5 pickups and former Rays’ right-hander, entered to make his MLB debut.

In terms of the big picture, Hernandez’s setback comes days after the Marlins announced top prospect Sixto Sanchez is dealing with mild discomfort in the back of his throwing shoulder, according to an MRI. The next step is rest, because he resumes a throwing program.

And prospect Edward Cabrera has not thrown in months. The hard-throwing right-hander is shutdown with right biceps nerve inflammation. The Marlins had made an effort to guard against overtaxing pitching prospects when they signed Gio Gonzalez to a Minor League deal. But the veteran lefty retired at the end of Spring Training.

The Marlins depth at the alternate site at Triple-A Jacksonville are Nick Neidert, Daniel Castano and Braxton Garrett.

Of note, here. While MO2 has been stressing for a while the concerns over the Marlins shortness of starting depth, it needs to be noted that pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. does an excellent job of handling the staff, and implementing strong pitching plans for the starters.

Hernandez was sidelined last year with a strained right lat, after throwing 25 2/3 innings in the shortened 60-game season. He’s also had blister-related issues in the past.

Then and now: It was a dramatically different start for Rays lefty Rich Hill on Saturday night than five years ago when he was with the Dodgers facing the Marlins in Miami.

Miguel Rojas worked a 10-pitch walk to lead off the first inning for the Marlins, and Marte followed with a single. Hill found himself working out of the stretch early on Saturday, something he didn’t have to do as much as once on Sept. 10, 2016.

With the Dodgers that night, Hill tossed seven perfect innings at Miami. The fact the lefty was flirting with a perfect game, and had logged 89 pitches, didn’t sway manager Dave Roberts to leave his then, 35-year-old, in the game. That’s because Hill has dealt with blister issues, and the Dodgers weren’t taking any chances. So, the bullpen was called upon. Jeff Francoeur had a two-out single off Joe Blanton in the eighth. The Dodgers won, 5-0, on a two-hit combined shutout.

Comments are closed.