Pitching Can’t Win Everything
Throughout the opening series for the Miami Marlins, starting pitching showed up and, for the most part, did quite well. A couple hiccups here and there, but over the course of facing a lineup two or three times, it’s bound to happen. The Marlins’ starters only allowed 6 runs over the 3 games (5 of them earned) over 16.1 IP, and while the bullpen did falter in the series finale (namely, Mike Dunn allowing a three run homer), it was strong in the first two games, allowing just 1 run in their first 3.2 IP. Overall, the bullpen allowed 5 runs in 6.2 IP, 4 of them earned.
Allowing 11 runs in a three game series is not at all bad, it’s about 3.7 runs per game given up. However, when the offensive side of the team can only muster one solitary run in 27 innings worth of play, including being shut out in the first 19 innings of the season, the effort of the starting pitchers become wasted.
The Marlins offense may not be entirely to blame, as they faced the top three of a very strong Washington Nationals rotation, followed by one of the best bullpens in the game. However, lack of timely hits and execution of small ball did hurt the team. The Marlins had very few opportunities to score runs, but when the situation arose, the Fish went 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position; that one hit, even, did not score a run. The Marlins lone run and RBI of the season belongs to center fielder Justin Ruggiano, who hit a solo home run in the second inning of the series finale off of Jordan Zimmermann.
On the plus side for the offense, even going up against a pitching staff as strong as the Nationals, only 17 of the 81 outs were via strikeout, which shows the hitters are at least picking up the ball and doing their best to get on base. The hitters also drew 7 walks, however 3 of them went to Giancarlo Stanton.
This Marlins offense was predicted to be one of, if not the worst in the game this season, at least until some form of help arrives in the shape of Christian Yelich. Yelich, along with his two outfield partners in AA Jacksonville, Jake Marisnick and Marcell Ozuna, are all starting their season on the disabled list.
The Marlins defense in this series proved to be about average to above average, committing three errors over the trio of games, with two coming in the finale and one of them being a throwing error by pitcher Wade LeBlanc. The other errors were a throwing error by right fielder Stanton, and a fielding error on second baseman Donovan Solano. Two of these errors led to a run scoring, but overall, the defense may not be an issue for this Marlins team. However, the offense will clearly have to pick up the slack to ensure that these errors are not as significant in the long run.
In injury-related news, Marlins opening day first baseman Casey Kotchman has been placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. Kotchman sustained the injury running to first base during the middle game of the series against Washington. He is now the third Marlin first baseman to find himself on the DL, alongside Logan Morrison and Joe Mahoney. Time at first will most likely be split between Greg Dobbs and Austin Kearns.