It’s hard to believe now, but two weeks and some change ago, the morning of August 28th rolled around and the Miami Marlins were 4.5 games out of a playoff spot. Giancarlo Stanton was coming off of a historic month tatering the baseball, the rest of the offense was doing their damnedest to keep up, and even the pitching was holding up.
There haven’t been many stretches in the last couple decades that I’ve religiously checked the standings every day, but the Marlins had me there for a week or two. I know it didn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things when they passed the Pittsburgh Pirates and then, briefly, the St. Louis Cardinals, but it still felt good. It felt like they were making real progress.
Regardless of whether you believed it was sustainable or not, that the club turned things around from that disastrous start AND was actually in the mix for the playoffs...well, Marlins baseball was fun again.
Flash forward to today, and the collapse that some predicted would occur has taken place, and it is truly a sight to behold.
The Marlins have lost 14 of 16 since that fateful late August day and have been outscored by their NL East brethren 94-53. The beautifully disastrous collapse of the offense combined with the sudden failure of the relievers to close out games and the continuing inability of the starting staff (excluding Jose Urena) to keep the opposing team off the board has led us to this miserable juncture.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why things have gone the way they have, but let’s look at a couple commonly brought up themes among Marlins fandom:
Everyone is tired
The starters on offense had been grinding relentlessly with little depth (both due to injury and by design) behind them to give them any rest. The outfield trio plus Dee Gordon are all in the top twenty in plate appearances this season. The relievers have thrown more innings then every team except the Cincinnati Reds. Baseball’s a long, long season and it’s entirely possible to run out of gas at the worst possible time.
They were never really that good to begin with
For the record, I don’t believe this to be the case. I still believe in the offense, and I believe in the underlying talent of most of the ‘pen. We all knew the rotation was a hope spot coming into 2017, and that was with the likes of Edinson Volquez and Wei-Yin Chen manning spots. With Vance Worley and Odrisamer Despaigne running out there every five days, some sort of setback felt inevitable.
I am afraid that the latter is the conclusion that Derek Jeter is going to come to at season’s end, and it’d be hard to fault him for it at this stage. If tearing apart the team was going to be the plan all along, Jeter and Sherman must secretly be thanking the Phillies for their role in the Marlins’ implosion.
Oh, right, the game. Well, I suppose I should say something about the game, right?
It was a newsworthy game from the Phillies perspective as Rhys Hoskins continues to be a revelation at the plate, smoking his 17th home run in only 33 games, becoming the fastest player to ever reach that mark.
Hoskins and the Phillies made Dan Straily a victim in this ball game, as he was destroyed to the tune of eight runs on 13 hits in six innings pitched. The Marlins offense looked lost yet again, with one run (a Christian Yelich jimmy jack) on four hits. Marcell Ozuna wore the golden sombrero (you know, the lame kind, not the nacho hat).
Your silver lining came in the form of one Wei-Yin Chen, who pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game and looks to be rounding into shape to the point where you’d be comfortable penciling him into the rotation in the spring.
It will be Ureña vs Jake Thompson in the series finale, the final game (mercifully) against the Phillies this season, 7:05 eastern start time.
King Fish: Aaron Nola (.189)
Flounder: Dan Straily (-308)
Play of the game: Aaron Altherr double in the second, scoring Hoskins (.132)