After one of the worst months in recent team history, the Miami Marlins are showing signs of life.
Having not won a series, or two games in a row, since April, the Marlins have now done both in the last four games, and have looked a lot more impressive while doing so.
The offense, which is dangerous on paper but has been very inconsistent up until this point in the season, has provided a recent spark. Miami has averaged 5.75 runs per game while winning three of its last four contests.
Much of this improvement has been because of the play of Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Bour and rookie shortstop J.T. Riddle. While the slugging outfielder, most known for his gargantuan home runs, has not been hitting the ball out of the park very often by his standards, he has been racking up the base hits. By hitting .298 in May, Stanton raised his season batting average to .283 after it bottomed-out at .240 at the start of the month.
Justin Bour has also excelled over the course of the month, producing an All-Star-worthy slash line of .326/.406/.663. Previously known to struggle mightily against left-handed pitchers, Bour appears to have solved his issues as he is currently hitting .324 against southpaws with four home runs, the first four in such match-ups in his career.
Then, there is J.T. Riddle. After Miami lost infield trio Martin Prado, Adeiny Hechavarria and Miguel Rojas to injuries, the team was in serious trouble. Riddle understandably took some time to adjust to MLB pitching, but since being called up for a second time this season, he has looked like the long-term shortstop the Marlins have been looking for.
There have still been issues in situations with runners in scoring position, but, largely, the offense has been getting the job done lately, and it is beginning to have an effect on the win column.
An important question to ask, though, is whether or not this recent upward trend in overall form is good for the franchise. The Marlins are still 11 games under .500, and even if everyone on the roster was performing at his best, it would be hard for this team to make the playoffs.
However, the front office could have a knee-jerk reaction if Miami edges close to .500 by the Trade Deadline and become buyers, which is not what this franchise needs. What the Marlins have been doing over the past four seasons has not moved them closer to the playoffs, and the farm system seriously needs new recruits to prevent more losing seasons, for all affiliates, in the near future.
While nobody wants to see their team perform terribly and occupy the bottom of the standings, it might be the best thing for the franchise at this time. With that being said, it is good to see that the Marlins are not just rolling over, and it is obvious that the Marlins have serious talent and building blocks in Stanton, Bour and Riddle.