Editor's note: The Miami Marlins finished up the first week of the season versus the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres, and they ended up taking two series wins and finishing 5-2. Naturally, fans are excited to see if these new-look Marlins can stay good (if not this good) all year. There are two camps, in the positive and the negative, on this argument, and I think I can do a good job representing either side. Here I am going full pessimist!
The Miami Marlins are 5-2, and they are not real.
Before this weekend's three-game series versus the San Diego Padres, Michael Baumann of Grantland said that he was ready to jump on the bandwagon, even if the FIsh were not really this good.
Look, I don’t believe in Jeffrey Loria. I don’t believe in overreacting to four-game samples just because they come in the opening week and there’s no preceding data to water them down. I don’t believe that three players can metaphysically lift their teammates to performances ordinarily outside their modest capabilities, as it seems that Stanton, Yelich, and Fernandez are doing.
But whatever. Sports are supposed to be fun, and right now, it’s fun to believe in the Miami Marlins.
I say to you, Mr. Baumann, to abandon the bandwagon before the wheels fall off fast.
This may be a fun team to watch now, but the fun will soon wear off once the only functional parts left are an increasingly disgruntled Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez. One week has not changed the outlook of any of the team's important players. We knew that Fernandez was a star in the making, and he has proven just that in two Marlins wins. We figured Stanton would return to full form shortly, and his power seems to have returned in full force.
But the rest of the lineup that was expected to be anemic? If depending on Adeiny Hechavarria and Casey McGehee to bat .458 and .563 on balls in play respectively, then yes, the Marlins could keep up their torrid pace. But if we headed into this year thinking that could happen, the Fish would have been a juggernaut! It's not a realistic expectation, and what is left after those two players inevitably fall by the wayside is the stuff of concerns.
Christian Yelich has seen plenty of pitches thus far, but that might be the only thing he has done right this early in the season. He actually has just a 4.2 percent walk rate to his name prior to Sunday's game, and his overall line of .222/.250/.333 does not yet inspire any confidence. The big addition of the offseason, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, has failed to hold off the running game behind the plate, though his luck-fueled .318/.348/.455 line (.500 BABIP) has helped Two major pieces for the Marlins, important hitters necessary to improve a crippled offense, have question marks, while a number of stopgaps and unexpected players are carrying the load with good luck on their side. It is a recipe for everything to come crashing down.
This is especially important to note in the face of the Marlins battling against two NL West teams who were on the road. Miami should perform better with the home field advantage and should beat the lesser two teams in the NL West. This is especially true on offense. The Marlins dodged facing top Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, who was injured to begin the year. They faced four of the Rockies' most questionable starters on a pitching staff that, last year, posted the fifth-worst ERA- in the NL (though they fared better in terms of FIP). Likewise, the Padres had the third-worst staff by ERA- and the worst by FIP-. Miami faced only one "ace" pitcher in Andrew Cashner, and they were lucky to do so with Fernandez on the mound opposite him.
Even the pitching staff had questions. How likely is Nathan Eovaldi to repeat his first two performances when he still showed much of the same skill set as last season? How will Miami handle Turner, who looked awful in his start like he did in the second half of last season, or Alvarez, who is a few lost pieces away from being a non-viable player like in 2012? Tom Koehler impressed no one with his hollow two-run performance as well, as he only struck out one batter and was the beneficiary of timely defense (the only time the Marlins defense was able to provide such a thing). Aside from Fernandez, questions still abound, even with the improved numbers of Eovaldi.
There are still too many questions in Miami to be happy. THe offense has not been answered, and the team was lucky to find subpar offenses with questionable pitching staffs. The team moves away from home and will visit the NL East favorites, the Washington Nationals, starting on Tuesday. Before we jump to crown Miami thanks to performances versus bad teams, let's wait and see how this still-uninspiring offense and question-laden pitching staff handles a better opponent. Luck cannot be on their side with guys like Hechavarria, McGehee, and Koehler forever.