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MIA 4, NYM 8; López struggles as Marlins fall to Mets in Port St. Lucie

A Miami Marlins helmet lays on its side in the dugout during spring training Photo by Joseph Guzy/Miami Marlins

A dismal spring for Marlins righty Pablo López continued on Sunday afternoon in an eventual 8-4 loss to the Mets. Coming into the game with an ERA of 8.31, things continued to trend downward for Pablo against a big-league looking Mets lineup featuring the bulk of their regulars.

López struggled with command early allowing a leadoff walk to CF Brandon Nimmo before LF Starling Marte lined a single to left center. Nimmo would be thrown out trying to advance to third on the play, but Marte moved up to 2nd base on the throw to third, eventually stole third and then scored on a groundout from Lindor.

López continued to labor in the second, allowing a home run to Mets 3B Eduardo Escobar on a 1-1 cutter that was left dead center of the plate followed by a sharp single back up the middle from DH Robinson Canó. Another single allowed to 2B Jeff McNeil brought the hook out early for López after just 1.2 IP and 42 pitches. LHP Steven Okert replaced López and didn’t fare much better, immediately walking Nimmo and then surrendering another double to Marte scoring two.

Thanks to relaxed spring training rules, the Marlins were able to bring López back out there for extra work and would complete the third and fourth innings for the Fish, but the struggles continued. Mets 1B Pete Alonso opened the third with a quick double to left and after moving to third on a groundout from Escobar, scored on a first-pitch single to right by Cano.

López again allowed the leadoff batter to reach for the Mets in the 4th as C Tomás Nido singled to left. After a throwing error by López on a Nimmo grounder, allowed Nido to come all the way around and score López was able to close his day with a stat line of 3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO. López finishes the spring with a 10.13 ERA and there must be some concern for the struggles he has displayed.

Pablo has been a fixture toward the front end of this rotation for years. However, with the team’s ample starting pitching depth and expected emergence of arms like Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer, as well as seeming improvements made this spring by Jesús Luzardo, it begs the question how solidified López will be in this rotation throughout the season. Working in López’s favor, his fastball velocity returned to its usual level on Sunday after sitting in the low 90s during his previous outing.

On the offensive side of things, LF Jorge Soler flexed some of the power that the Marlins are hoping for from him this year with an opposite field leadoff blast on a 92 MPH fastball from Mets starter Chris Bassitt. Bassitt would settle in for the next couple of innings, inducing weak contact and getting quick outs. The Marlins rallied a bit in the 4th with a leadoff walk from CF Jesús Sánchez followed by a 2-run bomb to left on a 1-1 sinker. A trio of singles from Joey Wendle, Miguel Rojas, and Jacob Stallings pushed across the Marlins 4th run and third of the inning. That rally would be all the Marlins lineup could muster the remainder of the day.

The Marlins have one final spring training game on Tuesday back home to face the Cardinals at 11:05 a.m. before the regular season opener against the Giants in San Francisco on Friday, April 8.

There’s still the lingering question surrounding the Marlins’ center field situation, but at least the bullpen has been fortified with the acquisitions of Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott on Sunday night. It remains to be seen how well this team will stack up against the rest of the National League East. With a retooled lineup, a rotation that can hopefully continue to make sizable strides forward and expanded playoffs, there is reason for optimism with the Fish and I know I speak for all Marlins fans when I say I can’t wait to see how this team looks out of the gate!