This is a tough question for any fan to ask of his favorite team – are we contenders or pretenders? Time to honestly evaluate the question that is the Marlins 2008 season.
With this road trip going as bad as it is, the upside is that the Marlins are in these games and have a chance to win them. They dropped 2 out of 3 against the Met and Phillies, but realistically one of those losses could have been prevented if players did their jobs.
Like Kevin Gregg who has recently resorted to blaming everyone else for not getting the job done. But that is the 2nd blown save on this road trip and it has resulted from Gregg not throwing strikes. Just ask Justin Miller who blew an extra inning game against the Mets after Alfredo Amezaga hit a home run to give the Fish the lead.
This is the second consecutive blown lead for the Marlins and the third on this road trip. An important, and often overlooked, part of a successful baseball team is its bullpen. But the bullpen is not getting it done right now. The Marlins built up their wins by having an excellent bullpen but of late there have been far too many mistakes and it is catching up with the Marlins.
Yet, does this show a flaw in the Marlins? Are they all of a sudden frauds?
There have been suspicions about their offense, but it looks like the power that drives this offense is here to stay – despite playing without one of their better hitters in Josh Willingham (who has been out since April). Their starting pitching is coming around, too. They have been consistent quality starts – save the Phillies’ thrashing of Mark Hendrickson.
The reality is that the Marlins are still lingering around the top spot of the NL East. Admittedly, dropping two series in a row to their NL East rivals is not good, but they still have three games against the Braves to make up for the way they are losing games. In fact, it really isn’t a must win for the Marlins when looking at this Braves series – which is a team that can only seem to win at home.
Still, one has to wonder where exactly the Marlins fit into the grand scheme of things. It is apparent to me, and I might be a little biased, that they are a quality ballclub. They are better than the Mets, Nats and Braves. They can be better than the Phillies, but right now the Marlins don’t have as hot a hitter as Chase Utley (which pains me to say) and their bullpen has been screwing around.
In order to climb out of this funk, the Marlins have to get better pitching from their bullpen and continue to get timely hits from their offense. The starting pitching will remain somewhat foggy, but if Badenhop could churn out a quality start, we may be developing the starters into a solid enough rotation to bridge success from May into September. We will know a lot more over the coming days.