The Miami Marlins will begin today’s NLDS without starting centerfielder Starling Marte, per MLB Network contributor Craig Mish (via Twitter). Marte will not be on the roster for the series. He took a pitch off the hand in the first game of the Wild Card series against the Cubs, fracturing the fifth metacarpal on his left hand. He was said to have been available to pinch-hit in the second game, though he did not appear. It was the third time this season that Marte had been hit on the hand, including the final game of the season.
Losing Marte is a blow for the upstart Marlins, though if there’s a team prepared to weather the storms of adversity, these Marlins certainly top the list. They’ve already withstood a COVID-19 outbreak, the loss of veteran Jose Ureña on the final day of the season, the opt-out and subsequent opt-in plus injury of second baseman Isan Diaz, and the retirement of starting catcher Francisco Cervelli. They also outlasted supposedly better teams in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. (not to mention Chicago) to break a 17-year playoff drought. For most people outside of Miami, Marte’s injury won’t move the needle simply because they aren’t expected to beat the Atlanta Braves anyhow. For those in the Marlins’ clubhouse, add this setback to the fuel for their nobody-believes-in-us fire.
Per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald, manager Don Mattingly said this about leaving Marte off the roster: “Obviously a guy you don’t want to leave off your roster. But we weren’t comfortable with what he was going to be able to do.” The need to add an extra pitcher, as well as the presence of numerous options to mix-and-match in centerfield also played a part in moving Marte to the taxi squad. Given how difficult a decision this proved to be, one would think Marte could heal enough to return to the roster for the NLCS, should the Marlins outlast the Braves.
Magneuris Sierra will start in Marte’s place in Tuesday’s game, McPherson notes, as he did in the second game of the wild card round in Chicago. In that game, Sierra came up big with an RBI single to give the Marlins a much-needed 2-run cushion. Interestingly, Sierra gets the start in game one even against southpaw Max Fried. That’s in part because of the makeup of the roster, of course, as Lewis Brinson will start in right field instead of lefty Matt Joyce. The 24-year-old Sierra has tremendous speed and defensive potential, which should be an asset for Sandy Alcantara, Miami’s game one starter, who allowed 52.6% Fly Ball Percentage this season.