The Marlins had put two runs on the board and were within one run of striking in the middle game of their series against the Braves. AJ Ramos, who has been a consistent force in the backend of the bullpen, took to the mound to give the Fish another chance. All he did was make things worse – the Braves “gumped” a few more runs and ended up finding themselves knee deep in a 9-5 victory.
Who’s stealing signs now?
It was a frustrating weekend series for the Marlins as they continued to find themselves on the wrong end of the result each contest. Three games, three losses with the Braves in town who entered tied with the Marlins atop the NL East. Now they scurry out of town having put some distance between themselves and the upstart Fish.
Yet, what else can be expected? The Marlins are the youngest team in baseball and are very much trying to prove that they belong. Maybe too much so. Whenever you press against good teams, the mistakes become handicaps that you cannot overcome. The Braves, as has been their modus operandi for many years now, are more inclined to let you beat yourself than to go out and beat you. That was the message the Marlins could take from this series as seen in their 3-2 loss in the opening game and especially with the 3 errors they made in the 9-5 loss in the second game.
Let’s face it, the Marlins have an uphill battle without Jose Fernandez. He is one of the best pitchers in the game and without him, getting a consistent winning streak will prove tough – but the Marlins have proven themselves up for the challenge. The offense is in the mix each night and Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones have proven to be plusses over the offense from last year, with Placido Polanco and Co. at 3B and Logan Morrison and Co. at 1B.
Now it is the bullpen that seems to be struggling as getting from starter to closer seems to be a disintegrating bridge.
Clearly, the Marlins have some flaws but nothing close to what they had last year. They lost 100 games, despite many being one run differentials. This year, they seem to be picking up those one run differences unless they make minor mistakes which cost them games like the ones in the Braves series.
Can they overcome this? If the Fish can play smarter, more consistent baseball and not press too much, they will definitely continue to challenge all season long. This is the frustrating part of watching a young team; they will excite you one second to all of a sudden whisk it away with a mistake in the next.
Giancarlo Stanton is having an MVP type season and the hitters around him are protecting him. The starters are getting more experience and are as good as advertised. It may be Jacob Turner who illustrates the Marlins growth the best – he has the stuff to be an excellent pitcher and the makeup, but the results are just wanting for the moment. Steve Cishek has been among the game’s best closers – and he just gave up a two run home run to kill the Marlins chances of salvaging a game in this series.
It is a little early to get down on this team, but it certainly helps temper where they are. Perhaps the Marlins are not quite ready for challenging for the NL East crown, but they are in the conversation. They are also viable challengers for the Wildcard. It may require a miraculous young arm being called up to help push things along – maybe Andrew Heaney is called up very soon as he continues to dominate the minors. There is one thing that is clear, the Marlins are not far from contending again much like they did in 2003. They are closer to that moment than they ever were at any point in 2012 or 2013.