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Marlins 4, Rays 6; “Robbed” of series sweep by mismanagement, walk-off grand slam (in that order)

Not only a painful result, but the way they lost depreciated a once-valuable trade asset.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins are riding a season-high five-game winning streak after Sunday’s 4-1 final. It’s been the perfect storm of maturing rookies and veterans performing with some urgency in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Uh...scratch that. Kyle Barraclough and Don Mattingly combined to choke away a golden opportunity to sweep their first series of the 2018 season on Sunday afternoon. The Marlins had to settle for winning two of three from the Rays after Barraclough served up a two-out, walk-off grand slam to pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson. Final score: 6-4.

  • Trevor Richards: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (102 pitches)
  • Chris Archer: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 13 K (101 pitches)

Miguel Rojas put the Fish in a comfortable position early on. Known for putting the ball in play whenever the situation calls for it, he’s also a risk to end promising rallies by grounding into double plays (MLB-high 17 GIDP this season).

This time, Rojas found a hole:

Upon closer examination, you can see his .210 WPA on the play came at a price. The throw in from the outfield connected squarely with Rojas’ right wrist, but he remained in for the entire game.

Can’t say the same for Cameron Maybin. The center fielder took exception to a called third strike in the fourth inning. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher tossed Maybin after he barked a few expletives on his way back to the dugout. It was only his third career ejection across 12 major league seasons.

Meanwhile, Trevor Richards didn’t look like he’d require any more insurance. Demonstrating a great feel for his changeup, the rookie right-hander generated a half-dozen strikeouts and lots of routine outs. All of a sudden, his 4.41 ERA and 3.83 FIP are awfully comparable to staff “ace” José Ureña. His rotation spot ought to be secure, even when the rehabbing Sandy Alcántara get recalled.

For the third straight game, the Marlins had to navigate a dramatic bottom of the ninth. And this time, playing with fire got them burned.

Barraclough entered Sunday with a .158 BABIP in 2018. His regression in that department continue with hits allowed to Jake Bauers, C.J. Cron and Ji-Man Choi. The breakout closer lacked confidence in his secondary pitches and worked into a ton of deep counts. It was clear to everybody—except Don Mattingly, apparently—that he didn’t “have it.”

Pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson came to the plate with Tampa Bay still trailing 4-2 and down to their final out. After the game, Mattingly said he would’ve removed Barraclough regardless of the result of that matchup.

But there wouldn’t be another batter.

Given the small sample size nature of relief work, it’s no exaggeration to say that this one appearance puts a serious dent in Barraclough’s trade value. He has barely a week left to rebound in an “audition” for contending teams prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Mattingly’s poor judgement in this situation shouldn’t surprise anybody who’s watched Marlins baseball this season. For as much as we’d like to credit him for overachieving with a roster designed to tank, the inability to recognize when his pitchers are struggling would be a fireable flaw to some organizations.

On the bright side, the Marlins return home on Monday for a series with the Braves and Fish Stripes will have two correspondents covering the game live on Twitter! First pitch at approximately 7:10pm.

July 22, 2018 win probability chart
Courtesy of FanGraphs

Attendance: 11,828

Please leave any Icthy picks in the comments below. Remember, we introduced a new grand prize for the contest this season!

7/22/18 Probable Starters

Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Trevor Richards Marlins 62.2 4.74 4.00 8.19 0.8
Chris Archer Rays 84.0 4.29 3.79 9.21 1.3

Today's Lineups

Derek Dietrich - LF Joey Wendle - 2B
Brian Anderson - RF Matt Duffy - 3B
J.T. Realmuto - DH Jake Bauers - LF
Starlin Castro - 2B C.J. Cron - 1B
Justin Bour - 1B Ji-Man Choi - DH
Martin Prado - 3B Carlos Gomez - RF
Cameron Maybin - CF Mallex Smith - CF
Miguel Rojas - SS Willy Adames - SS
Bryan Holaday - C Adam Moore - C
Trevor Richards - RHP Chris Archer - RHP

Matchup Summary

An exciting return to competition following the All-Star break. The Marlins received another strong starting pitching performance on Saturday, this time by rookie Pablo López, and the supporting cast did just enough for the W.

We don’t know exactly what this team will look like by the end of the month, but the current iteration of it has been consistent and entertaining. Cherish every one of these games!

  • Thirty-something series into the 2018 season and the Marlins have yet to complete a sweep. Trevor Richards was in this exact position against the Orioles last month, but struggled from the get-go (3.1 IP, 6 ER) and took the loss.
  • Richards is seeking consecutive quality starts for the first time as a major leaguer. Otherwise, not too much pressure on him to perform—Sandy Alcántara (armpit infection) is still a couple weeks away from returning to the active roster and overcrowding the rotation.
  • Chris Archer has spectacular results against Miami in two prior career starts (7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R in 2014; 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R in 2015).

Thread Question: Are you worried at all about Kyle Barraclough? Picked up the save on Saturday, but he’s only pitched one clean, 1-2-3 inning in July (eight appearances).