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Game Thread 136: Marlins vs. Blue Jays

Whole lotta news surrounding Saturday’s contest. Get it all right here.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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

9/1/18 Probable Starters

Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Marco Estrada Blue Jays 120.0 5.18 5.27 6.88 0.6
Wei-Yin Chen Marlins 106.1 4.91 4.79 7.19 0.4

Today's Lineups

Lourdes Gurriel - SS JT Riddle - SS
Devon Travis - 2B Lewis Brinson - CF
Justin Smoak - 1B J.T. Realmuto - C
Randal Grichuk - RF Brian Anderson - 3B
Kevin Pillar - CF Martin Prado - 1B
Russell Martin - 3B Austin Dean - LF
Danny Jansen - C Miguel Rojas - 2B
Teoscar Hernandez - LF Magneuris Sierra - RF
Marco Estrada - RHP Wei-Yin Chen - LHP

Matchup Summary

How many good relievers do the Marlins actually have?

A couple months ago, it looked like a handful. The front office was so enamored with them that the only bullpen arm traded for young assets was free-agent-to-be Brad Ziegler.

Fast-forward to Friday night and there are now serious doubts about the effectiveness of, well, everybody. A stint on the disabled list didn’t “fix” Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider is experiencing his first significant major league slump. They combined to blow a 5-1 lead in the ninth inning, as Justin Smoak’s two-out grand slam put the Blue Jays ahead to stay.

The MLB regular season divides evenly into six 27-game stages, and this marked the close of the penultimate stage. The Marlins had been gradually progressing in a positive direction, but the July 31-August 31 stretch represented a discouraging step backwards:

  • Stage 1: 9-18, -51 run differential
  • Stage 2: 11-16, -43 run differential
  • Stage 3: 12-15, -18 run differential
  • Stage 4: 14-13, -19 run differential
  • Stage 5: 7-20, -53 run differential
  • Stage 6: ???

On the bright side, reinforcements have arrived! As first reported by SiriusXM’s Craig Mish, the “first wave” of September call-ups includes Sandy Alcántara, Jeff Brigham, Lewis Brinson, Chad Wallach and Nick Wittgren. All except Brigham already had 40-man roster spots and MLB service time, but he earned it.

In addition, Martín Prado (quad strain) was reinstated from the disabled list and rookie right-hander Pablo López is done for the season with a right shoulder strain. The 22-year-old showed promise in 2018 with a 4.14 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 1.26 FIP during his 58.2 IP after dominating the high minors. Placing him on the 60-day DL created space for Brigham.

Our own Luis Davila urges you to stay calm—López should be at full strength for spring training:

The news of this injury makes the the club’s rotation plans down the stretch fairly straightforward. Expect a six-man staff of Alcántara, Brigham, Wei-Yin Chen, Trevor Richards, Dan Straily and José Ureña.

Don Mattingly gives us a preview of how they’ll be ordered for the next few series.

Speaking of Chen, he’s coming off his best month as a Marlin. Pitching three of four August starts at home, he posted a 1.54 ERA/3.62 FIP/4.08 xFIP and 24.5 K% in 23.1 IP.

He’ll try to continue that trend on Saturday beginning with a 7:10 p.m. first pitch.

Thread Question: Do you think Chen would have any trade value in the offseason if his month of September is as good as his August was?