What was your favorite highlight from the 2015 Miami Marlins season? As a refresher, that team spent zero days above the .500 mark, brought Dan Jennings down from the front office to manage for 124 games, and never had Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton healthy at the same time. They finished with a 71-91 record.
This was mine:
A soon-to-be 42-year-old Ichiro Suzuki faced the Philadelphia Phillies that afternoon. He threw 11 of 18 pitches for strikes and kept them all in the ballpark. The only blemishes were a pair of doubles that led to a run. In a lousy game at the end of a lousy season, Ichiro brought the entire expanded roster to the dugout railing.
By comparison, this summer has been far more entertaining—hosting MLB All-Star festivities, Stanton’s torrid home run pace, reports of an imminent ownership change, the brief flirtation with the playoff race, etc. But nonetheless, the Fish approach the end of the regular season in a familiar, noncompetitive place.
It’s time to have some fun...and avoid further embarrassment.
On FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan did a painfully thorough review of the pathetic year that Miami’s pitchers have had at the plate:
Even relative to the year-specific average pitcher, these Marlins have been the worst in at least several decades. If the Marlins want to avoid setting a new mark, they could use some hits. Or walks. Or a dinger. Anything. Anything, but another torrent of outs.
Worst Hitting Pitchers 1947-2017
As Sullivan points out, they’ve been trending in the wrong direction. Edinson Volquez, the most respectable offensive player on the staff (.192/.214/.192, 6 wRC+ this season), is on the shelf after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Dillon Peters didn’t have any hits as a professional prior to joining the rotation this month, and he has predictably looked overmatched in the majors (six strikeouts in seven plate appearances). Can’t expect much from his final two starts.
The Marlins’ only hope is to fudge these numbers by putting a position player on the mound. Bring him in to pitch and ensure his spot in the batting order is due up the following inning. Ichiro is the most logical candidate, considering his experience two seasons ago and relatively hot bat (.321/.411/.410 since the All-Star break).
However, Don Mattingly might need some convincing. He hasn’t let a position player pitch since 2014, when Los Angeles Dodgers backup catcher Drew Butera did so twice.
Ichiro must cooperate, too. Through a translator, the future Hall of Famer described his pitching debut as a dream come true, but insisted that he’ll “never ask to do that again,” according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
The Fish Stripes staff will be spending much of the next week celebrating Jose Fernandez (Monday marks the first anniversary of his tragic death). The skill and enthusiasm he demonstrated as a hitter was part of what made him so likable. We miss Jose every day, but even more so when circumstances like these remind us of the void that still hasn’t been filled.