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Our Noticias, 9/21/20: Final week storylines; R.I.P. Gary Hughes; photo gallery

A winning week will send the Marlins back to the postseason for the first time since 2003.

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Photo by @dsosaphotography/Fish Stripes

Nine notables for week of Sept. 21

Every Monday morning, I’ll be leading off these Our Noticias pieces with a roundup of Marlins players who—for better or worse—are top of mind:

  • Brian Anderson—BA still has not missed a game all season, and after Friday’s three-homer performance, he leads the Marlins in practically every meaningful counting stat. Very good player who has room to get even better in the future with more consistent throws from third base and by adjusting his approach to breaking balls. Extend this man!

  • Miguel Rojas—He’s up to 462 hits in his Marlins career, only five away from matching his role model Martín Prado. If you somehow haven’t supported Rojas in Roberto Clemente Award voting yet, here is the link.
  • Sandy Alcantara—Back-to-back impressive outings for the 25-year-old last week. Sandy’s control took a leap forward in late 2019 and it’s been extremely encouraging to see him sustain that in limited action this season.
  • Garrett Cooper—The universal designated hitter has turned Cooper into a true everyday player. A testament to his elite power, four of his five home runs this season have been “no-doubters,” according to Baseball Savant.
  • James Hoyt—I predict that Hoyt will appear more times this week than any other Marlins pitcher. He’s on a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless games, one of the longest in MLB in 2020.
  • Jon Berti—With Jazz Chisholm slumping, Berti should be the regular second baseman for these upcoming critical games (though Chisholm should be prepared to enter as a defensive replacement).
  • Brandon Kintzler—The accomplished veteran lowered his ERA to 2.53 on Sunday, the best single-season mark of his major league career. But his expected ERA—which accounts for the quality of batted balls he allows—is nearly doubled that, per Baseball Savant. Kintzler has been and will continue to work high-leverage innings. However, if the Marlins find themselves relying on a reliever to literally make or break their season, they ought to use Yimi García.
  • Matt Joyce—It’s been nearly two weeks since Joyce’s last extra-base hit and his lack of range in the outfield is noticeable. I don’t really see him having a positive effect this week except in pinch-hitting situations against right-handed power arms. If Don Mattingly feels the urge to start him (I’m sure he will), please bat him towards the bottom of the lineup.
  • Robert Dugger—The interrupted/shortened MLB season screwed Dugger, who showed legitimate promise in spring training and would have ordinarily had a long leash to contribute to this pitching staff. Unfortunately, his mop-up work in 2020 has been disastrous. With the Marlins facing a 40-man roster crunch, it’s only a matter of time until he gets designated for assignment.

Braves series preview

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Probable starters: Monday—LHP Trevor Rogers (6.00 ERA, 5.23 FIP in 21.0 IP) vs. Huascar Ynoa (5.30 ERA, 5.11 FIP in 18.2 IP); Tuesday—LHP Cole Hamels (8.10 ERA, 2.88 FIP in 3.2 IP) vs. RHP José Ureña (6.00 ERA, 5.78 FIP in 15.0 IP); Wednesday—TBD vs. RHP Sixto Sánchez (2.75 ERA, 3.29 FIP in 36.0 IP); Thursday—LHP Max Fried (1.96 ERA, 2.62 FIP in 55.0 IP) vs. RHP Pablo López (3.96 ERA, 3.12 FIP in 52.1 IP)

The Marlins will likely need one win in this Braves series to stay alive in the National League playoff race, two wins to remain in firm control of their destiny and three to threaten for the first NL East title in franchise history. A four-game sweep of Atlanta essentially clinches an October berth. They won’t be at full strength, but could get relatively close if outfielder Magneuris Sierra (hamstring) and left-hander Stephen Tarpley (oblique) are ready to come off the injured list.

Walk-off links

  • Current 2020 Marlins playoff odds according to FanGraphs: 83.6%.
  • Former Marlins scouting director Gary Hughes, who was well-traveled and universally beloved across the baseball industry, died at age 79. Much more about him in this Bob Nightengale piece. Todd Hollandsworth shared more kind words on Sunday’s FOX Sports Florida broadcast.
  • No more PTBNL mysteries—the Marlins officially acquired outfielder Griffin Conine as the player to be named later in the Jonathan Villar trade and sent shortstop Isaac De León to the Orioles and left-hander Julio Frias to the Diamondbacks to complete the Richard Bleier and Caleb Smith deals.
  • Congrats to BoutThirdyMan52 on his Fish Picks victory! As usual, point totals have been reset for the new week, and I hope to see all of you playing along (it’s free and you can win real prizes).