Despite his overall numbers in 2016, the Marlins were more than happy to trade for Andrew Cashner, a middle of the rotation pitcher who had allowed only seven earned runs in his previous four starts combined for San Diego.
Cashner looked every bit worth the hefty price the Marlins paid for him in his debut in Miami, tossing six innings of one-run ball, although he did not factor into the decision.
The wheels well and truly fell off for Cashner in Colorado last night, however, as the big right-hander gave up seven runs on eight hits in five innings. Handed a two run lead before even taking to the mound, Cashner failed to keep the Rockies off the board in either the first or second inning.
He then settled down, but came apart in the sixth inning, where Colorado took the lead via a seven-run frame and never looked back. Cashner gave up a triple, a single, a double and a walk, all without recording an out, before being replaced by Mike Dunn.
And just like that, Miami’s rotation, once again, appears average at best. Even though the Marlins are still (joint) holders of the second Wild Card spot, the playoffs seem far from certain for this team at the moment.
The Marlins have gone 11-11 since the All-Star break, at a time when playoff teams should be starting to play their best baseball of the season. The slow start after the break has a lot to do with numerous poor outings by Marlins pitchers, who have given up 5.64 runs per game in those 11 second-half losses.
Jose Fernandez is currently riding a rare losing streak, Wei-Yin Chen is on the DL until roughly September, Fernando Rodney owns an abysmal 6.46 ERA since joining the Marlins, and closer A.J. Ramos has endured his fair share of struggles recently, too.
All in all, Miami does not currently look like a threat to the top teams in baseball. Yes, they have played consecutive series’ against the Cardinals, Cubs and surging Rockies, all tough opponents, but these are the teams that the Marlins need to play well against if they want to show that they can make waves in the postseason.
It does not get any easier, either, as the team returns to south Florida to take on the NL West-leading Giants, starting tomorrow. This article may be exaggerating the significance of one bad start, but Cashner's string of strong starts were more of an anomaly than the rough night he suffered last night when you consider his entire 2016 season to date.
The Marlins have had a surprisingly good season so far in 2016, as not many people would have thought that this squad would reach a high of nine games over .500. However, Miami tapped into an already barren farm system to land trade targets, but failed to significantly improve before the deadline, and that might cost them later on in the season and beyond.
Without a stable back-end of the rotation, or bullpen, it will be difficult for the Marlins to remain competitive when the stakes are raised down the stretch. The Wild Card is still very much in reach, but it will not be for much longer if this level of pitching continues.