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Offishial news, 4/16/21: Jackie Robinson Day extended; Rule 5 frustrations

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The Marlins return home to LoanDepot Park after a pair of eventful road series.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Potential series sweep gets Pop’d

Dylan Floro is understandably taking some flak for failing to close out Thursday’s game against the Braves. What would have been a historic win was instead Miami’s third blown save of the 2021 season, sending them back home on a sour note. However, there’s still a lot to like about Floro as demonstrated by his seven previous (all scoreless) appearances.

The costliest inning of the series finale was actually the sixth. Don Mattingly called upon rookie Zach Pop to be the first man out of the bullpen with the Marlins clinging to a 3-2 lead. Despite facing a soft spot in the Braves lineup, Pop failed his high-leverage test, surrendering a three-run home run to Pablo Sandoval. Mattingly did not want to throw the young right-hander into the fire like that, but his alternatives were limited. Several veteran relievers needed to rest, he admitted afterward.

In what was a mostly excellent four-game series for the Fish, their two weakest links were Rule 5 draftees Pop and Paul Campbell. Through six combined innings in the majors, they’ve contributed a 15.00 ERA and 2.17 WHIP plus three hit by pitches. These pitchers are more talented than that, but their struggles shouldn’t come as a complete shock—Pop is a Tommy John surgery survivor while Campbell is getting acclimated to an unorthodox usage pattern after going through the minors as a conventional starting pitcher.

Rule 5 picks are made as long-term investments. There may come a breaking point when the Marlins feel compelled to return one or both of them to their original teams, but that would take several more weeks—if not months—of awfulness. In the meantime, yes, it’s frustrating for fans clamoring for a deeper bullpen and similarly so for the players themselves who know potentially impactful arms are being blocked from receiving call-ups.

Walk-off links

  • Marlins fanbase confidence remains strong—eighth-highest in Major League Baseball, according to the MLB Reacts survey—but has gradually dipped from 94% to 92% to 89% during the early weeks of the season. Sign up here to participate throughout the 2021 campaign.
  • Joe Frisaro shares his MO2 overview of the Braves series.
  • FiveThirtyEight gives the Marlins a 48% chance to win their series opener against the Giants.
  • Because the visitors didn’t have a game on Thursday, the original Jackie Robinson Day, the celebration is being extended to Friday. Both Marlins and Giants players will wear uniform No. 42.
  • Our Marlins roster tracker was just updated with some intriguing new additions to the Fish Tank (alternate training site in Jacksonville).
  • No surprise, Max Meyer’s slider is considered the best secondary pitch in Miami’s farm system.
  • MLB.com’s Christina De Nicola is compiling a Marlins stat of the day for every game of the season.
  • The Marlins placed 19th in Baseball America’s MLB power rankings.
  • Approximately halfway through the month, we’ve had about 200 participants in the Fish Picks daily prop bets contest. Beginning in May, I’m considering a change to the entry process that would make it more feasible to score all individual correct picks (rather than focusing only on perfect games). Stay tuned.
Monthly Fish Picks leaders entering April 16
  • Marlins minor league affiliate the Beloit Snappers will say goodbye to Pohlman Field in a unique way by auctioning off ballpark naming rights for each home game and donating the proceeds to charity. Bid here.
  • Apply to join the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium grounds crew.
  • Congratulations to catcher Brian Navarreto who has returned to Puerto Rico to spend time with his newborn son.