The MLB season is comprised of 162 regular season games. Due to that excessive length, every team will inevitably have its ups and downs. While only sitting at 27-32, the Marlins find themselves in a not-so-terrible situation.
Just over a third through the season, their pythagorean win-loss record—which shows projected record based on a team’s run differential—is 32-27, good for 12th in MLB. They actually have the worst “luck” in the league based on that five-win discrepancy between their actual and expected records. Half of their losses have come by painful 1-run margins. The Marlins have outscored their opponents by 22 runs, exactly the same as the Tampa Bay Rays, who are 10 games over .500.
This team’s win-loss record is not fully reflective of their performance on the field. Although discouraging, the Marlins have a ton of games remaining to revert back to the mean.
If they can manage to stay afloat over the next two weeks, a stretch that includes the rest of this series against the red-hot Phillies and seven games against the NL-leading Mets, there is a path for them to get back into postseason contention.
What the Marlins are lacking on the field can be addressed in their own locker room. Should they get through this stretch relatively successfully, there are reinforcements returning from injury that can supply immediate help.
Jesús Luzardo (forearm strain) and Cody Poteet (elbow muscle) are both guessed to be returning by mid-July. The Marlins bullpen would benefit from the presence of Poteet as an innings eater, and Luzardo can help that unit indirectly by taking a starting spot and shifting the rotation’s weakest link to a relief role. Anthony Bender (back stiffness) also has the high-quality stuff to contribute, and he’s on track to return even sooner than Luzardo and Poteet.
When healthy, Joey Wendle (hamstring strain) and Brian Anderson (back spasms) have provided consistent production in the middle and bottom thirds of the order. They’d serve as huge upgrades from Luke Williams, Astudillo and others who have been called upon in wake of the veterans’ absences.
Getting over the sunk-cost Fallacy
Sunk-cost fallacy: The tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort, or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits.
Let’s face it: there are four to five internal options who can and should be playing over Avisaíl García. Through 59 games, he’s been one of the least productive MLB hitters (62 wRC+ and -0.2 fWAR), yet he’s been an everyday presence in the Marlins lineup due to his previous accomplishments and the $53 million contract he was given this offseason. Just go take a look at all of the dark blue that appears on his Baseball Savant page.
Power-hitting prospect Jerar Encarnación, for example, is already on the 40-man roster. Allocating regular playing time to him or other young outfielders would be both informative for their post-2022 roster outlook and likely improve their chances to win right now.
Deal from depth to fill needs
There are two positions of depth that the Marlins possess throughout the organization. One is obviously their starting pitching. With Garrett Cooper now in the mix for the NL batting title, Jesús Aguilar providing a steady bat and young stud Lewin Díaz waiting in the wings, suddenly first base seems to have a surplus of plus-bats. Troy Johnston is tearing up the minors for a second straight season. Even Encarnación has some experience at the position. If all of these players remain injury free, it’d make little sense to hold onto all of them through the trade deadline.
Ideally, the Marlins grab a top-tier reliever and a more consistent quality non-first base bat, especially if Anderson and Wendle take even longer than expected to return. Logical targets include Cedric Mullins, Bryan Reynolds and Ramón Laureano on the offensive side. In the ‘pen, the Fish should look to guys like Scott Barlow, Rafael Montero and David Bednar.
The bottom line is that there is indeed hope for this ballclub in 2022. They have almost all the pieces put in place for them—it just feels worse because of bad luck (and bad management). So everybody relax. The Marlins are actually a lot better than we give them credit for. Let’s see if they can keep things rolling through this tough stretch.