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Bullpen buckles as Marlins lose season finale to Braves, 8-5

Giancarlo Stanton went 2-for-5 at the plate, but finishes 2017 stuck on 59 home runs.

Thank you for spending the season with Fish Stripes!
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Giancarlo Stanton showed up for Game 162 with plenty of bat speed, but not enough launch angle to pad his monstrous home run total. The Atlanta Braves (72-90) out-slugged the Miami Marlins (75-87) on Sunday, racking up 11 hits (five for extra bases) in their 8-5 win.

Stanton batted in the leadoff spot to maximize his opportunities at No. 60. He had several pitches to do damage against; just couldn’t get the trajectory quite right:

  • First plate appearance (first inning): strikeout swinging vs. Max Fried
  • Second plate appearance (third inning): single to right-center vs. Fried
  • Third plate appearance (fifth inning): single to left-center vs. Fried
  • Fourth plate appearance (seventh inning): groundout to shortstop vs. Jim Johnson
  • Fifth plate appearance (ninth inning): strikeout swinging vs. Arodys Vizcaino

That first single was scalded at 122.2 miles per hour. The second one was well-struck, too, at 100.5. Both had home-run-caliber exit velocity, so do I get partial credit for Friday’s prediction?

The majority of pitches seen by Stanton were outside the strike zone, but that didn’t prevent him from getting the barrel to the ball on those two occasions.

Pitches thrown to Stanton on Sunday.
Source: Baseball Savant

There’s heightened concern throughout the fan base that this was Stanton’s last appearance in a Marlins uniform. At least those in attendance sent him off graciously, with a long standing ovation after his ninth-inning at-bat.

Every Braves starter with the exception of Fried reached base. Despite plenty of success against Atlanta earlier this season (2.22 ERA, .561 OPS against in 24.1 IP prior to Sunday), Jose Urena struggled to put batters away. He recorded only two strikeouts through five innings and exited with a pitch count of 105, trailing 3-0.

Stanton was at the heart of Miami’s rally in the bottom of the fifth. His single drove in the first Marlins run, and they eventually took a 4-3 lead in the aftermath of a Dansby Swanson throwing error.

Alas, as we grew so accustomed to seeing in 2017, the bullpen couldn’t hold it. Dustin McGowan’s blown save the following inning was the Marlins’ 26th of the season. That total led the National League. Junichi Tazawa and Justin Nicolino were lit up in the seventh, with Adonis Garcia’s pinch-hit, three-run homer proving to be the difference in the game.

Sunday epitomized why it’s so difficult for the Marlins to compete as currently constructed. Without an offensive explosion from Stanton and company, they aren’t able to bail out a pitching staff that sorely lacks talent and experience.

New ownership was in attendance for this. Now the real drama begins, as we await the official transfer of power and learn what plan—if any—Derek Jeter’s group has to bring the franchise back to relevance.

Source: FanGraphs