Friday night marked win number one for Marlins manager Skip Schumaker. The Marlins scored two runs on 10 hits, Jesús Luzardo struck out five, and the bullpen was almost perfect besides a late-inning Pete Alonso homer. The night couldn’t have gone any better for Skip and his ball club.
Skip described the “cold” celebration that took place in the Marlins clubhouse afterward.
“Good group of guys,” he said, “getting some type of beer and protein shake in my ear and whatever else they put on my head.”
The 16th person to manage a game for the Marlins franchise, Skip comes from an unusual background. He is less than a decade removed from playing in the majors and did not previously serve in this role at any professional level. Understandably, he has different values and strategies than his predecessor, Don Mattingly.
For example, Jorge Soler had a huge impact on the win with both his bat and his glove. Skip started him in right field on Friday, a position that the Marlins never used him at in 2022.
Skip’s take: “We solely just showed that (Soler) is just not a DH, right? It’s okay to play him in the outfield and he’s a good outfielder and it gives other guys days at the DH spot to give that kind of half-day off, which we’re looking for.”
Skip also values his bench a lot. When I asked him about having first basemen Yuli Gurriel and Garrett Cooper both in the lineup together, he told me that he doesn’t always want to have the same starting nine.
“Trying to get the bench more involved—especially early in the year—is really important,” Skip said. “I don’t feel I’m losing anything with Yuli in the lineup, right? So that’s a good guy to have off the bench today to spot start.”
A.J. Puk converted the save for the Marlins in the ninth. Puk is one of the relievers Skip has designated for high-leverage work, but there is no full-time closer currently. That’s another noticeable difference between Skip and Mattingly, who would always name a ninth-inning guy entering the regular season.
Puk told me he had a good time during the victory celebration and “gave (Skip) a little beer shower.”
Equally important to making the right moves from the dugout, Skip looks to lay down the foundation for the culture that he wants to form in Miami. In his previous stints coaching with the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals, he saw first-hand how important it is for teams to have a consistent way of doing things. Once that gets going, more wins should follow.