The Marlins are preparing to kick off their NLDS against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. This series is non-conventional for a postseason set in that the best-of-five will play out over 5 consecutive days (and of course, because it’s being played in a playoff bubble at a neutral site during a pandemic).
No days off means there will be less of the starters-in-relief that has come to define many recent postseasons, including last year when Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez used each of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin out of the bullpen en route to winning the World Series. But there’s still potential for lots of in-series finagling of pitching staffs depending on how the first couple of games play out. For Atlanta, that could mean a bullpen day for game four. Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Kyle Wright will take the hill for the first three games, and odds are they’d bring Fried back on short rest for a potential winner-take-all game five.
The potential to return on short rest for a deciding game five makes the selection of the game one starter all the more important . The Marlins will start Sandy Alcantara in the series opener, followed by Pablo López in game two and rookie phenom Sixto Sánchez in game three, tweets Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. The Marlins young trio have a real opportunity to add to their pandemic-truncated resumes. Alcantara and López won’t be arbitration eligible until after 2021, so there’s time to build a more comprehensive portfolio before entering the arbitration process. Still, every extra start does help considering the half a season or more lost due to the pandemic. The 25-year-old Alcantara, for example, was only able to make 7 regular season starts because of time spent on the COVID-19 injured list. He added one successful postseason start to that total already, and by starting game one of the NLDS, he could add another pair should the series go the distance.
Sánchez, with just 7 regular season starts to his name, isn’t scheduled to enter arbitration until after the 2023 season. He’ll be pushed back a day after 5 spotless innings against the Cubs in game two of the Wild Card series. Sánchez came out hot against the Cubs, routinely hitting triple-digits in the first couple of innings. His velocity dropped to the 94-to-97 mph range by the fifth inning. A game two start would have put him on track for a regular four days of rest. This way gets the 22-year-old an extra day off after a high-intensity outing at Wrigley Field.
López will take the hill for Wednesday’s game two instead. His last start came all the way back on September 24th. That gives him 12 days off between starts. That last outing also happened to come against these very Braves, one of three times he opposed Freddie Freeman and company during the regular season. The Marlins went 2-1 in those games, though the loss on September 9th was easily López’s roughest (and shortest) outing of the season. He managed just 1 2/3 innings while serving up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 7 earned runs. The 24-year-old went 5 scoreless, striking out 6 while yielding just 2 hits and 2 walks in his final start of the year at Atlanta.
In a vacuum, any of the three would be legitimate options to open the series, but manager Don Mattingly wasn’t troubled by his decision about who to start in game one. Per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, Mattingly said, “Obviously, Sandy’s easy. He’s been our guy, kind of our No. 1.”
Though I like the Braves in this series, those are some talented pitchers being trotted out by the Marlins.
Yeah, I’m a Braves fan and like them in this series but Sandy Alcantara worries me.
Marlins in 4. The Braves playoffs failures will continue. These things generally do as a twins fan I know
Alcantara is a stud. 97 mph with effortless delivery and sharp movement.
A bit like Buehler. The team is moving in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how they handle however many games a “full season” will be in 2021. With the expanded playoffs and that pitching, they can be a playoff pain-in-the-neck while continuing their rebuild. No one will want to face them.
He’s still learning how to pitch too. I wouldn’t be surprised if his k rate exploded in the next year or two.
The Braves have to get to the Marlins starters early. Alcantara still has his moments of inconsistency with walks. Sixto had back-to-back walks against the Cubs at one point if I remember right, Braves really need to get their pitch counts up.
Agreed. Marlins bats also need to exploit the young Braves arms early as the Atlanta bullpen is pretty solid. Early innings are always important, though it might be more pronounced in this series. Both teams need to wipe out memories of the 29-9 game. That might be more true for the Braves, who would be mistaken to assume the Marlins will be a pushover. I like the Braves if they maintain their focus. Don’t be anticipating blowouts.
arthur blank_for owner
Can someone plz explain why there is a bubble now?! The whole league played 3 months with no bubble…. but we wait until Round 2 of the playoffs to create a Bubble? Seems quite backwards to me, but there has to be some reasoning behind it I guess
To limit travel and better safeguard against spreading the virus. It makes sense. This is a fluid situation. MLB deserves credit for its willingness to change courses rather than wait until it’s too late. A shame we can’t do that as a nation. Why wait until the worst-case scenario is upon us? For instance, another situation like what happened with the Marlins and Cardinals.
It’s because a team cannot go out due to Covid as it will destroy the scheduling. If a player gets Covid and are put in quarantine for several days that team may not be able to play for days…if more players test positive it could go on for weeks as it did with the Cardinals. The next round can’t begin because the previous round isn’t finished. Then the World Series has to be pushed back, and then they are playing the second week of November if everything goes bad.
arthur blank_for owner
Gotcha, makes sense. Thx!
Marlins-Braves figures to be the most fun series to watch. All that good young pitching on both sides, Freddie, Acuna, the no-names in Miami…..lotsa good stuff. Braves might mow right through them, but I don’t think so.
No matter how this season turns out, the Marlins scored a big plus of being able to get their young players playoff experience while they are still in a rebuild.
We’ve already seen the Marlins continue to remain in the race and make the playoffs while no one took them seriously until the end of the season. I’d love for that trend to continue with teams not taking them serious until they have won the World Series. That would be great.
The Marlins have still never lost a playoff series. Excellent season for them regardless. They rose above the COVID ordeal, debuted lots of exciting young talent, and tied for the Major League lead in attendance 🙂
LOL. Yes, it was great to lead in attendance this year. And they rewarded the fans with a playoff berth and the hope for a strong future.
I used to doubt the existence of what I think may be the reason this has happened, but I’m starting to think that it may exist. It’s starting to look like “Jeter’s Intangibles” really do exist.
Go Marlins! With the pitching depth on this team, we will always be in the mix for a playoff spot or going deep in the playoffs. Unlike the Hanley/Uggla and the Giancarlo era.
Too bad that MLB in their infinite wisdom chose to have every single game in this series start at 2 PM. Re-damn-diculous.
And an insult to every MLB fan Who is not a Yankee fan
I’m cheering Marlins but I think the Braves will win the series.