T The Marlins looked bad, really bad in their opening series against the Atlanta Braves. The Fish struggled to hit, and Mat Latos got shelled yet, this week showed a completely different Marlins team that has showed many encouraging signs. Here's what changed.
Pitchers don't need to be perfect when there's run support.
The Marlins provided poor support for pitchers Henderson Alvarez and Tom Koehler last week in both pitchers' opening starts. Yet the Marlins' bats finally came alive in a big way on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. The Fish plated at least six runs in both of the series victories and the offense finally looked invigorated.
Giancarlo is back, but he never left
As surprising at it seems many Marlins' fans were ready to call Giancarlo the next "Big Contract Bum" after just two series in 2015. Yet Giancarlo made a thunderous return batting in three runs on Tuesday night and looked like the same old Giancarlo. All that's left is to get the illusive home run to become the Marlins all-time leader.
Realmuto looks good enough to stick around
While it's only one game, J.T. Realmuto put together a convincing opening act with the Marlins. In three official plate appearances J.T. scored two runs and tallied two hits. With all of the inconsistently at catcher with both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeff Mathis having abysmal starts to the season. Realmuto has a window to win at the very least the back up catcher position, and he's doing his best to put a good impression on the Marlins
Haren and Koehler can weather the storm while Alvarez is out
Dan Haren and Tom Koehler were far from perfect in their starts this week. That being said both pitchers turned in solid performances and have showed enough grit that one could reasonably believe that they can hold down the fort until Henderson Alvarez returns from the 15 day DL. If the ample run support continues, Koehler and Haren will continue to turn in solid winning performances.
The bullpen's reliability returns
The Tampa Bay series was disastrous for the Marlins bullpen. Between blowing a six run lead in game two and giving up runs left and right it was a bad weekend at the office for the Marlins relief staff. Yet when called upon in crucial situations the bullpen held up against Atlanta. After having a tough game against Tampa Bay, A.J. Ramos worked out of a bases loaded jam on Tuesday night. While questions still remained about Steve Cishek, he delivered a save on Wednesday and there is plenty of reason for optimism going forward. Even young Jose Urena turned in a great inning out of the bullpen in his first game with the Marlins in the 2015. If the bullpen continues to hold up, things will get better for the Marlins fast.
Mat Latos was (slightly) better
In a weird start that was delayed almost an hour to start, and was followed by another 30 minute delay later, Mat Latos looked better. That being said, it wasn't hard to look better than his embarrassing performance in his first game with the Marlins where he failed to complete one inning. With the delays it was hard to get a read on Latos' performance. That being said, Latos gave up five hits in four inning pitched allowing two earned runs. While it's unclear going forward what kind of performances we will see by Latos in future outings, he did look better Tuesday night and did show some encouraging signs.
Hechavarria is showing some life at the plate
On his birthday Marlins Shortstop Adieny Hechavarria went 3-3 including a home run and three RBIs. While Hech has struggled at the plate to start the season, his 3-3 performance on Wednesday afternoon should not go unnoticed. Hech could start turning in some strong plate appearances in the future.
So while some improvements were slight, and some where large, the Marlins had a great series in Atlanta. And now it's on to a three-game series at Citi Field against the Mets. Will this weeks' improvements show against the Mets? Or will the Marlins continue their opening week struggles?