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What to watch for in Marlins’ Game 162

Low-quality baseball is better than no baseball at all. Soak it all in!

A detailed view of the necklace worn by Bryan De La Cruz #77 of the Miami Marlins in the dugout during the game against the Chicago Cubs at loanDepot park Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Full disclosure: I won’t be watching or listening live to any of Sunday’s Marlins-Phillies game. Got a special engagement that overlaps with it. Perhaps you’re in the same boat—cool! I’m unable to bring myself to feign excitement for what figures to be a poorly played baseball game involving teams that do not have strong incentives to win. There are countless alternatives for spending those hours in more entertaining or productive ways.

With that being said, here is a brief viewing guide for those of you who are hooked on the 2021 Fish until the bitter end.

Miami Marlins centerfielder Magneuris Sierra, left, and right fielder Lewis Brinson stand with a young fan during the playing of the national anthem Carl Juste/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Minor league award winners—Before the game itself, the Marlins will be honoring their farm system’s top performers. Back in 2019, the annual awards included system-wide player and pitcher of the year, student of the year, community service, and most valuable players for each affiliate.

Pending free agents and non-tender/trade candidates playing for the Marlins one final time—The 2022 Marlins will include a lot of new faces. But first, as I’ll cover more extensively on the next Fish Stripes podcast, the front office needs to flush out players who simply aren’t good enough. The active Marlins who fit this description and could potentially play on Sunday are Eddy Alvarez, Andrew Bellatti Lewis Brinson, Sean Guenther, Preston Guilmet, Sandy León, Deven Marrero and Magneuris Sierra.

Pablo López returning from injury—López was diagnosed with a right rotator cuff strain coming out of the All-Star break and hasn’t pitched for the Marlins since. They will limit him to three innings of work in an abbreviated start, but something is better than nothing. He spoke about his preference for treating 2021-22 as a regular offseason and shedding the stresses of being in “rehab mode.” Taking the mound at LoanDepot Park should bring him closure. Don’t forget about the special start time: 3:10 p.m. ET.

Fun with numbers—Recently called up Brian Miller and Payton Henry can achieve a bevy of career firsts. They’re both still in search of their first home runs, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases. Bryan De La Cruz would be able to clinch a .300 batting average by going at least 1-for-1 or 2-for-4. Jazz Chisholm Jr. is two homers shy of a 20/20 season. He went deep twice in a game on September 20, so you know he’s capable of it.

Let the vets coach—Don Mattingly is continuing his Game 162 tradition of putting his players in charge. Miguel Rojas, who “managed” the Fish to a 2019 win over the Phillies, gets an opportunity to repeat that feat. He is expected to be assisted by an acting bench coach, pitching coach, etc.