Ed. note: This column normally runs on Sundays but I was camping yesterday. - TB
What a stellar debut for Mr. Peters this past friday night. He gave you everything you could’ve hoped for from a rookie coming directly from Double-A and being thrust directly into an important game with playoff implications.
He pitched seven full innings. How often could we say that when referring to the Marlins starting rotation? I’ll tell you!
- Adam Conley’s done it three times this season, the most recent being his beautiful 11 strikeout performance on August 20th.
- Dan Straily did it twice, seven against the Cubs on June 5th and an eight and a third gem against the San Francisco Giants back on July 7th.
- Edinson Volquez did it back to back in June, including his 10 K no-hitter against the Diamondbacks.
- Jose Urena pitched eight innings on July 31st, a one run effort against the Washington Nationals.
- Wei- Yin Chen amazingly had a seven inning effort way back on April 18th.
- Vance Worley did it against the Nationals on August 2nd.
So, Peters’ start marked only the tenth time this season that a Marlins starter has pitched seven or more innings. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not making this an indictment of the rotation. There are plenty of other teams in similar situations, as the league seems to be trending overall toward shorter starts and more relief appearances.
Perhaps the more impressive feat was the eight punch-outs, matching Jose Fernandez’s Marlins record for K’s in a debut. He was working his breaking pitches and it was a thing of beauty watching those swinging strikes over the top of that big looping curveball. The list of Marlins starters who’ve struck out eight or more batters in a start this season is much more compact.
- Dan Straily with three starts of eight K’s or more.
- Edinson Volquez with three.
- Adam Conley with one.
Simply put, things could hardly have gone better and Peters made it easy on the Marlins in deciding to remove Worley from the rotation and give Peters the start this upcoming Wednesday. Don’t let the Marlins failure to capitalize on that performance take away from the goodness of it.
It seems almost absurd to still be talking playoffs where the Marlins are concerned after such an abysmal, deflating week. For as much flack as the pitching has gotten for their performance over the course of the season, it was the offense that tanked during this 1-6 stretch. We wont go over the ugly numbers again here, but needless to say, that can’t continue if they’re going to have any shot at making a run.
And yes, it’s still entirely within reach, thanks to our franchise bosom buddies the Colorado Rockies.
On June 20th, the Rox were 47-26, a robust 21 games over .500 and well on their way to the postseason. Since then, they’ve gone 25-38 bringing them to an overall record of 72-64. They’re still eight games over .500, they still have that second Wild Card spot, but look at how much ground they’ve lost. Colorado has been trending in the wrong direction for some time now, and despite everything, the Marlins remain only five games out.
Don Mattingly suggested yesterday that fatigue may be a factor in the offensive decline, with both Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich having played in something along the lines of 42 of the last 43 games. With only two games off remaining on the schedule, it will be crucial to get these guys a day or two of rest somewhere in there so they can recharge the ol’ batteries. Ichiro!, despite his advanced baseball age, has shown some life in his bat in the second half of the season here. Don’t be afraid to use him out there, Donnie. I’d probably target the upcoming Braves series as an ideal time to give a day to each. You have to take a gamble on losing in the short term in order to have these guys around for you in the long run.
News came out over the weekend that Jeter/Sherman are likely to slash payroll, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise given the state of the finances associated with the club, but is nevertheless disappointing to hear from a new ownership group looking to distance themselves from the old one’s legacy.
Perhaps, to them, a part of Loria’s legacy that they don’t want to have to live with are the contracts they’re now stuck with. Giancarlo Stanton’s contract is obviously the big fish, but there are several medium sized contracts swimming around in this pond too: Christian Yelich, Edinson Volquez, Wei-Yin Chen, Martin Prado, Dee Gordon. I do think it would be wise to explore trading Gordon in the offseason. He’ll be 30 years old and with Prado returning and Brian Anderson and Derek Dietrich in the fold, we have the players to man second should they decide to see what kind of value Flash Jr. has in the open market.
Volquez, unfortunately, is a sunk cost at this point and will be off the books after 2018 anyway. They can certainly try to move Prado and Chen, but I doubt they’ll find much traction until they both can prove they can stay on the field and contribute. Yelich and Stanton would obviously garner interesting returns, the latter in particular as his contract remains favorable.
If they somehow manage hard charge it to the Wild Card to cap off an incredible comeback, how does Jeter explain tearing them apart instead of building around them? It’s not like the core is aging and the window has closed. I’m not ready to give up on this group’s capacity to compete, and I think this final stretch of the season will be crucial in convincing the new ownership of the same.