The Marlins still have a pulse in the National League Wild Card race. They enter play on Monday only three games back in the loss column of the Cardinals and Giants and two behind the Phillies. Naturally, there are fans clamoring for them to add talent from outside the organization that addresses the team’s deficiencies. However, it’s difficult to get sellers to budge this far in advance of the trade deadline. That does not mean the Fish should sit on their hands and hope their flawed roster overachieves enough in the coming weeks to stay afloat.
It’s time to promote Max Meyer.
One of the top-ranked Marlins prospects entering the 2022 season, Meyer has lived up to the hype. His fastball velocity has increased, his changeup has become more consistent and his slider remains a special putaway pitch.
Meyer’s rise to the big leagues was interrupted in mid-May by ulnar nerve irritation. The injury threw off the right-hander’s routine and forced him to manipulate his mechanics in order to make his scheduled starts, he told MLB.com’s Christina De Nicola. He reluctantly went on the IL, getting the necessary rest to return to normal.
On Sunday, Meyer proved that he’s fully back on track. He started on the road against the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals affiliate)—an offense that leads the Triple-A International League in slugging percentage—and limited them to two singles in six scoreless innings. He earned strikes on 72.1% of his pitches, averaging a hyper-efficient 3.2 pitches per plate appearance. The Memphis broadcasters were crestfallen to see him replaced and vented about being “robbed” of what could’ve easily been a longer outing.
Listen to the opposing broadcasters. Tells you everything you need to know.— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) July 4, 2022
They are legitimately pissed that they didn’t get to watch Meyer pitch deeper into the game tonight. pic.twitter.com/zw1EVW3W5o
Despite the injury absence and being challenged with facing much older and experienced competition, Meyer leads all Marlins minor leaguers with 192 strikeouts since 2021. Earlier this season, he regularly worked a third time through opposing lineups. As if Sunday’s victory wasn’t impressive enough on the surface, it came against a Memphis team that saw him previously in the same series, and he did it with only four days’ rest between starts (what you’d call “regular rest” by MLB standards). Meyer has checked every box.
I am not going to disparage Braxton Garrett and Daniel Castano, both of whom have improved from where they were a year ago. I also can’t guarantee that Meyer will have immediate major league success. To put it simply, Meyer has far superior upside with the “ingredients” to frequently last deep into starts while limiting damage.
Continuing to hold Meyer down at Triple-A at this point does not benefit his professional growth. There aren’t any financial incentives for the Marlins to do that, either. The Super Two deadline passed long ago, ensuring that the first-round draft pick must wait until at least 2026 for arbitration eligibility.
If Garrett is anything short of dominant against the Nationals on Monday, Meyer should take his next turn in the rotation on Saturday. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Marlins could designate seldom-used Tommy Nance for assignment and shift Garrett to the bullpen, or they could option Garrett/Nance and transfer Anthony Bender to the 60-day IL (Bender has already been on the IL for 44 days with several hurdles still to clear before returning).
Stop playing with fire: call up Max Meyer.