As the Miami Marlins take on one of the toughest MLB postseason teams remaining in the Atlanta Braves, they will do so without everyday center fielder Starling Marte, who was left off the 28-man roster for the National League Division Series. Marte broke his left pinky finger during the Wild Card Series last week.
Magneuris Sierra started in his place during Tuesday’s NLDS Game 1, recording two hits and a run scored in the 9-5 loss.
Marte suffered the injury on a hit-by-pitch against the Chicago Cubs on September 30 in the Marlins’ first postseason game in 17 years. Manager Don Mattingly left open the possibility that he could be available during the remainder of the Wild Card Series in some capacity. Whether that was as a pinch-runner or as a fielder, the Marlins seemed cautiously optimistic that he could contribute in some kind of way. After running several tests on his hand and general performance Tuesday morning, they made the difficult decision to keep him sidelined.
“We just weren’t comfortable with what he was going to be able to do,” Mattingly said. “The things we were going to ask him to do, he needed to be at full strength.”
Marte has been a dependable bat in an otherwise inconsistent lineup. Miami acquired him from Arizona on August 31 in exchange for Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejía and prospect Julio Frias. In his very first game with Miami, he hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning to give Miami a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Since then, he has been a fixture in center.
The Marlins had been listing Marte’s status as day-to-day up until the deadline to submit their roster to Major League Baseball.
“Nobody wants to be left off a postseason roster, and Starling’s a great competitor,” Mattingly said. “But the main thing in the conversation with him was he needed to be honest with us and tell us what he was comfortable with. And then we had to make that decision as we watched what he was trying to do out there.”
With Marte out, we will likely see Lewis Brinson and Sierra get more playing time in the outfield. Corey Dickerson can expect to start near the top of the batting order against Atlanta’s right-handers.
Unfortunately, none of them have Marte’s track record of excellence in clutch situations. To win three of the next four games and advance to the NLCS, the Marlins are relying on their other outfielders to find the best versions of themselves.