BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
What a difference a year makes.
The teams with the biggest improvements from 2022 to 2023 in the first half include: the Cincinnati Reds 16 + wins, Arizona Diamondbacks 12, Texas Rangers 11, Miami Marlins 10, Baltimore Orioles 8, and Tampa Bay Rays 7.
The Marlins played the Baltimore Orioles last night at Camden Yards and lost a 5-2 decision to the Orioles.
During the off-season, Marlins GM Kim Ng decided to make a change in the dugout as former Manager Don Mattingly and the team decided to mutually part ways.
Mattingly has since moved on to become the bench coach of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Enter former St. Louis Cardinals Coach Skip Schumaker, 43, and he brought a younger voice to this 53-40 squad.
He inherited Cy Young Award Winner Sandy Alcantara, Jazz Chisholm, Jorge Soler, Bryan De La Cruz, Jon Berti, Garrett Cooper.
He also retained Pitching Coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr from Mattingly’s staff.
Meanwhile, Ng made a bold move by trading pitcher Pablo Lopez for second baseman Luis Arraez and both played in the 2023 All-Star Game. Arraez won the batting title for the Twins last season and he’s currently he’s currently hitting .380 for the Marlins as of this update.
Meanwhile, Soler is having a bounce back season with a .254 average but he’s slugged 24 home runs to also earn a place on the All-Star Team. De La Cruz is hitting .279 with 10 homers and 50 RBI.
Chisholm has spent a lot of time on the injured list.
During the off-season, Ng acquired veteran pitcher Johnny Cueto and he’s only pitched one inning all-year and is 0-1. She also signed third baseman Jean Segura from the Philadelphia Phillies and up until the All-Star Break, he’s struggled offensively with a .213 average in 254 at bats.
Despite Alcantara’s 3-8 mark, the Marlins have gotten good pitching from Jesus Luzardo 8-5, Braxton Garrett (5-2), Edward Cabrera (5-5) and rookie Eury Perez 5-3.
During the Marlins Media Availability, I asked Schumaker about the return of Cueto, Segura and the addition of third base coach Jody Reed.
Check out the interview inside the story. I know you’re going to get a lot out of it.
He does talk about the character of his team and sums up the first half of the season.
During our game, the Marlins defeated the Philadelphia Phillies defeated them 5-3.
Garrett had a solid performance by throwing five innings and yielding three runs. The bullpen was stellar in keeping the Phillies in check the remainder of the way in front of 18,132 fans.
Segura had two hits against his former team, Arraez pinch hit in the seventh inning and had a key hit, while Cooper had a pair of hits.
When you talk about the character of the Marlins, closer A.J. Puk blew a save the previous night and the Marlins lost 4-3. On Saturday, he redeemed himself by closing out this contest.
The Marlins took two out of three to win their series vs the Phillies.
On All-Star Night, I was invited on a Podcast called Brothers of Baseball hosted by Willie Epting Jr and on this show, I had the chance to talk with a pair of podcasters from Philadelphia. This is also included in the story.
This show will give you both sides of the I-95 Rivalry with teams separated by approximately 17 hours and there were no shortage of Phillies fans in the stands in Miami.
In 2023, South Florida has had a lot of success with its sports teams.
The Florida Panthers and Miami Heat made incredible runs as eight seeds in the NHL and NBA respectively each advancing to the finals, only to come up short.
Meanwhile, The Florida Atlantic Owls and Miami Men’s Basketball teams reached the NCAA Final Four, but were unable to advance to the finals. Nova Southeastern University saw its Men’s Basketball Team go undefeated and win a title at the division two level.
If you include the entire state, The Florida Gators came up short in the College World Series, falling to the LSU Tigers.
Right now, despite the pending arrival of Lionel Messi making his debut with Inter-Miami next week, the Marlins have the summer stage to themselves.
Like the other teams, this is a great opportunity to make a playoff push. I’ve heard a lot of national commentators say that this is a squad that no team would want to face.
The 2023 Marlins have strong pitching, sound defense and good hitting.
But more importantly, it’s a team that no one expected to have this type of success coming off an off-season where there were quite of changes including trading popular shortstop Miguel Rojas to the LA Dodgers.
Time will tell if the Marlins can do what the other teams couldn’t accomplish and that’s win a championship.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com and you can see his broadcasts by subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.