At 38-51, the Marlins are hoping to inch closer to five hundred as they open a three game series against the Phillies on Friday night. With the second half officially underway, these five questions need to be answered throughout the second half.
1. Can Michael Morse have a solid second half?
Morse was signed to complement Giancarlo Stanton's bat in the lineup and play first base. However, he spent time on the disabled list and struggled offensively throughout the first half. Through 44 games, Morse posted a .201/.263/.292 batting line to complement three home runs and 11 RBIs.
Miami signed Morse to a two-year deal after he batted .279 with the Giants in 2014 and he could bounce back and become consistent for the remainder of the season. Morse might be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline but if he is not a move back to first base is likely. Morse has seen time in left field and when Giancarlo Stanton returns, a platoon situation at first base could become realistic.
2. How will Jose Fernandez continue to pitch?
Coming off of Tommy John surgery, the Marlins will continue to monitor the former National League Rookie of The Year. Fernandez has pitched well in his first two starts since returning, posting a 2.08 ERA and 1.77 FIP over 13.0 innings. If the Marlins fall well below five hundred, the organization might opt to shut Fernandez down early. But after a pair of outings in the first half, Fernandez will likely continue to have success moving forward.
3. How will Dee Gordon perform?
When the Marlins acquired Dee Gordon from the Dodgers, the club was seeking a productive lead off man and consistent starting second baseman. Throughout the first half, Gordon has proven to be both. He has posted a .338/.359/.413 batting line to complement one home run and 33 RBIs. Gordon has also stolen 33 bases and has set the table for the middle of Miami's lineup.
Although he dislocated his thumb days before the All-Star Game, the Marlins are confident they will not have to place Gordon on the disabled list. If he can continue to produce, the Marlins' lineup should only get better throughout the second half.
4. Can J.T. Realmuto continue to develop?
At 24, Realmuto became the Marlins' starting catcher after Jarrod Saltalamacchia had trouble at the plate to begin the year. Realmuto has posted a .247/.275/.379 batting line to complement four home runs and 24 RBIs but has had success catching a young pitching staff that has had difficulty remaining healthy.
While the Marlins might not expect Realmuto to be a middle of the order bat, his development will likely have an impact on their strategy next offseason with Jeff Mathis still on the roster in 2015.
5. Will the Marlins get healthy?
Miami at times has struggled this season but the club has not remained healthy from the outset. Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos have seen time on the disabled list, Giancarlo Stanton is out, Martin Prado has played in rehab games, and Gordon is expected back soon.
The team Miami put together in the offseason has not played together consistently but should appear and have some success throughout the second half.