Surprising Marlins have been surprisingly bad
MIAMI (AP) The Miami Marlins have gone 8-6 since Giancarlo Stanton went on the disabled list, with their feeble offense finally showing signs of life.
In 12 innings since an injury to All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, Miami has scored 17 runs and celebrated two victories.
For the Marlins, little has gone according to expectations. They’ve been surprisingly bad, not an easy feat for a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2003, and their 38-51 record is the third-worst in the majors.
But they played better with Stanton and Gordon both sidelined, sustaining faint hopes the Marlins might yet make a run and show they underachieved the first half of the year.
”It has been frustrating for all of us,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. ”We expected to put ourselves into position to play into October.”
The hole the Marlins dug is probably too deep to get back into playoff contention, and a surge this month is unlikely. Gordon is expected to be sidelined until next week because of a dislocated left thumb, while major league home run leader Stanton will be out another one to three weeks recovering from a broken left hand. The next 10 games are on the road, where the Marlins are 14-28.
A bad trip might make them sellers at the July 31 trade deadline. Right-handers Dan Haren and Mat Latos, who are to become free agents at the end of this season, are the Marlins most likely to be on the market.
”As we work toward the 31st, if there’s a deal that makes sense for us moving forward, we’ll obviously entertain it,” Hill said.
However, the Marlins will not be breaking up their roster as they’ve sometimes done at midseason. Hill said he still believes in the core of young talent, including Stanton, ace Jose Fernandez, left fielder Christian Yelich, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and rookie catcher J.T. Realmuto.
”We have controllable pieces that are talented – everyday pieces we’re excited about,” Hill said. ”We still have a supreme belief in their talent. We’ve had some ups and downs, especially with the young players. But we’re still positioned to take another step this year and continue to build with a talented group.”
Some young players have indeed underperformed. Center fielder Marcell Ozuna (.249, 26 RBIs) is trying to find his swing after a demotion to Triple-A. Yelich (.264, 20 RBIs) has hit better lately after an awful start.
Injuries have been a major impediment. Five of the nine players in the opening day lineup have spent time on disabled list, including right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who is 0-4 in four starts and is now on a rehabilitation assignment. Latos and right-hander Jarred Cosart have also been sidelined and are a combined 4-10. Fernandez is 2-0 in two starts, but sat out the first three months recovering from Tommy John surgery.
An odd managerial change failed to improve the team’s fortunes. The Marlins were 16-22 (.421) with Mike Redmond and are 22-29 (.431) with former general manager Dan Jennings, who had no previous managing experience.
There have been bright spots, including the return of Fernandez and the emergence of Realmuto, first baseman Justin Bour, new closer A.J. Ramos and reliever Carter Capps. All have helped keep the team afloat in Stanton’s absence.
The Marlins swept a three-game series against the Giants without their slugger, and won three of four from the Reds before the All-Star break.
”I’m proud of the way the guys closed out the first half,” Jennings said. ”We’re playing with the energy and fire it’s going to take. We have a chance to jump out the second half and play the way we’re capable of.”