In the grand scheme of things, finishing a ten-game road trip against the Nationals, Giants and Dodgers at 4-6 wouldn't be too bad. But after three bullpen collapses through the first nine games, the Marlins will be left with the feeling of "what if?".
The once extremely dependable Steve Cishek has been demoted over the course of this cross-country swing after blowing a save in both San Francisco and then Los Angeles the very next night. He has only converted three of seven save opportunities this season after posting a 39 for 43 mark last year. This has forced manager Mike Redmond to search internally and externally for other options to finish off games for Miami. The bullpen gave up another five runs last night and is starting to become a cause for concern as the season progresses.
It is not just some of the Marlin pitchers that have had their share of struggles, though. Although Giancarlo Stanton was locked in last night, he has only hit .194 since leaving Miami and has struck out 14 times. A third of his hits have been home runs, but the Marlins would prefer him to just get on base more. Dee Gordon is also showing signs of cooling down. He has only two hits in his last 12 at bats and is without a hit so far in his first series back in Dodger Stadium after being traded to Miami over the winter.
The Marlins now sit five and a half games back of the Mets in the NL East at 15-19. At a glance, this seems fair for a team that is currently without its top two starting pitchers. But when you look deeper into the situation, the team should be doing better. David Phelps has been more than capable as a replacement for Henderson Alvarez in the rotation as he has posted a 2-0 record and a 2.90 ERA so far this season. The starting pitching has been relatively good for Miami, but the team has blown eight saves, which is the most in the majors. When this is considered, the Marlins could easily be sitting at .500 right now.
Henderson Alvarez looks like he will return soon, which will undoubtedly give the team a boost. But after last week where the Fish had won nine out of ten games and seemingly everyone was contributing, the team seems to have lost most if not all of that momentum. Returning to south Florida might allow the Marlins to get back into a groove and start to reduce the gap to the Mets and the rest of the National League elite.
The Marlins need to stay at or around .500 before the All-Star Break to have a realistic chance of making a successful run to the playoffs. After a bad start, the Fish have somewhat recovered. A win in the final game in LA will allow Miami to put this road trip behind them and head home with a more positive attitude. It's time to regroup, Marlins.