The Marlins are off to a strong 7-5 start to the season and are currently sporting the game’s fifth-best run differential (+12). Here’s the latest out of South Beach…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports covers a couple of Marlins topics in his latest notes post. While the team is off to a good start to the year, Rosenthal points out that Miami has six relief pitchers on pace to throw more than 85 innings in 2017. Even though that’s deliberate in some ways, as the Marlins stocked up on ’pen depth when recognizing how difficult it’d be to beef up their rotation, Rosenthal suggests Marlins starters are going need to pitch deeper into games in order for the team’s run to be more sustainable. To add some further context to Rosenthal’s point, only two relievers in baseball reached 85 innings last year: Brad Hand and Erasmo Ramirez. While strategically stockpiling quality relievers certainly has some merit on paper, Marlins starters have thrown just 60 1/3 innings through 12 games. Asking any group of relievers to throw as many as three to four innings on a near-nightly basis seems unrealistic, even if the group is largely comprised of quality arms (as is the case in Miami).
- Rosenthal also spoke to Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill about the team’s increased number of infield shifts in 2017. As Rosenthal points out, the Marlins have shifted nearly as many times in 12 games this year as they did in all of 2016 (per STATS, LLC). Hill explains to Rosenthal that the primary difference in 2017 is that the team is more aggressively shifting infielders to the opposite side of the second base bag. Moving defenders but keeping them on their designated side of the infield isn’t designated as a technical “shift” in STATS’ record-keeping. “We had numerous shifts (previously) where the shortstop/second baseman shaded up the middle, but didn’t cross the bag,” says Hill. “In an effort to be more thorough and get more outs, our data suggested we shade to the other side.”
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan observes that the Marlins could find themselves in position to cash in a huge return on outfielder Marcell Ozuna if they’re not contending this summer. The 26-year-old Ozuna is rocking a Herculean .404/.453/.745 batting line through his first 53 plate appearances, and while that’ll fall once his .438 BABIP corrects itself, Ozuna has seemingly taken a step forward in the power department. If the Marlins aren’t contending, they’ll have a decision to make on Ozuna, who would have two and a half years of team control remaining. Miami has virtually no chance of working out an extension with the Scott Boras client, in Passan’s estimation, so dealing him could be a means of injecting a much-needed wave of quality young talent into the team’s minor league ranks. Then again, if Miami is still flirting with the NL East lead and/or a Wild Card spot, it may be a moot point, as Ozuna would be considered a key contributor to a postseason pursuit.
- The Marlins are expected to reinstate third baseman Martin Prado from the disabled list prior to tonight’s game against the Mariners, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The return of Prado will be a welcome addition for the Fish, as he’s fresh off a .305/.359/.417 batting line compiled over the life of 153 games last season. The 33-year-old suffered a strained hamstring while playing for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic but recently wrapped up a four-game rehab stint with Miami’s Class-A Advanced affiliate in the Florida State League.