Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Marlins Stunning Start

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What a difference an off-season makes.

To say that I was surprised that former GM Kim Ng leaving the organization turned out to be a major a major understatement. 

The team just came off an 84-78 record which landed them an NL Wild Card Berth, but owner Bruce Sherman elected to restructure the front office, and she’d have no part of it. The Marlins hired Peter Bendix to lead their baseball operation from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Last season, Miami was 33-14 (.702) in one-run games. With all the stats in baseball, this is the one that you can gauge a successful year because the main reason is attributed to the bullpen doing its job especially in the late innings.

Going into the season, the Marlins knew they would be without the services of Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara. But there would be more injuries to come on the pitching staff with the most impactful one coming to Eury Perez, who will also miss the 2024 campaign.

A couple notable subtractions from this years roster include slugger Jorge Solar, who departed as a free agent to the San Francisco Giants, and the Fish traded speedy infielder Jon Berti to the New York Yankees before Opening Day.

The Marlins opening week couldn’t have started any worse. 

They were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four-game series during Opening Day Weekend, then the Los Angeles Angels tacked on three more losses leaving the Fish with a franchise record 0-7 start. 

For Pittsburgh, the four-game opening weekend sweep was the first time they had accomplished this since 1903.

There is nothing worse than starting out 0-7 and sending your fans a message that this could be a tough season. Miami put themselves in the record for all the wrong reasons as the Marlins became the first team in MLB History to start 0-7 coming off a playoff year.

With that said, how long would that losing streak continue as Miami hit the road to face the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees?

It would reach 0-9 and on Sunday, April 7, the Marlins would finally get a “W” thanks to Jazz Chisholm and Nick Gordon Jr. who hit three-run homers in a six-run first inning as they trounced the St. Louis Cardinals 10-3.

Miami had been the first team to start 0-9 since Atlanta and Minnesota in 2016. The Marlins avoided becoming the first team to lose its first 10 games since the 2002 Chicago White Sox began 0-11.

Their stopper in this game was Max Meyer (1-0), a 25-year old right-hander, who got his first major league win in his fourth start and appearance. 

Meyer allowed one-run and three hits in six innings, striking out three and walking one. 

He had Tommy John Surgery on August 9, 2022 and returned to the mound on April 1, when he pitched five innings without a decision against the Los Angeles Angels. Meyer retired his first 13 batters.

With this streak lifted off of their shoulders, it was time to travel to the Bronx for a three-game series with the New York Yankees.

Things didn’t start out well for Miami as the Marlins dropped back-to-back decisions by 7-0 and 3-2 scores. 

But on Wednesday Night, Miami took a 5-2 win back to South Florida as it got a much needed day off on Thursday as they’ll host the Atlanta Braves this weekend.

The game we attended was the finale against Pittsburgh on March 31, 2024 as the Marlins jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Pirates scoring all of the runs in the first inning. Chisholm hit a grand-slam homer. Trevor Rogers pitched five solid innings, giving up seven hits and striking out six.

But things would go down hill from there as the bullpen was unable to hold the lead and the Marlins lost 9-7 in 10 innings.

By no means this isn’t the time of the year to play the blame game yet. 

The Marlins did void the club option on Manager Skip Schumaker for the 2025 season as it was reported that he was upset with the departure of Ng. Time will tell if management will let him continue to pilot the club if the team continues to lose.

On Monday’s edition of 108 Stitches, Baseball Talk which you’re going to find in this story, one of my analysts Mark Maradei offered some insights about the Marlins slow start. You’re going to find his comments to be very insightful.

To say this weekend’s series vs division rival Atlanta is important is once again a major understatement, especially since Miami went winless in the opening home stand. For the Marlins, they’re 0-7 at Loan Depot Park. The last thing they want is another long streak lingering over them. But that’s where we’re at.

After Atlanta, the San Francisco Giants come to town. So we’ll find out whether this home stand provides good home cooking or time to continue the head scratching early in this campaign.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on X @TribuneSouth and to see his broadcasts, Subscribe to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

Finally, Scott’s book “Lessons From The Microphone” can be purchased at Amazon, Kindle and Barnes & Noble.


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