The Marlins are once again projected to be NL East cellar dwellers. However, that prognosis is also largely a reflection of the caliber of competition within their division. The Braves, Nationals, Mets and Phillies all have exceedingly bright outlooks and a significant advantage over Miami in talent. That’s not to say Miami didn’t add some punch to a moribund lineup that finished with an anemic .241/.298/.375 slash in 2019. Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickerson, Matt Joyce and Jonathan Villar – all proven veterans with varying degrees of power — were brought in to complement burgeoning bats Brian Anderson, Harold Ramirez, Jorge Alfaro and Garrett Cooper. The problem for Miami offensively can largely be narrowed down to depth, however; beyond what could be a solid starting nine, the Fish are in dangerous waters in the event of even a couple of extended absences. Granted, a 60-game regular season reduces the cumulative opportunities for injuries. However, the very reason the season is that length to begin with, COVID-19, can naturally strike any player(s) at any time and for extended periods.
The Marlins staff will once again be an intriguing mix of talented up-and-coming arms whose unsightly 2019 records were partly the reflection of a lack of offensive support and a bullpen that allowed a bloated 4.97 ERA. Sandy Alcantara will serve as the de facto ace. The first-time All Star posted a deceptively bad 6-14 record last season that was offset by a 3.88 ERA. Lefty Caleb Smith and the hard-throwing duo of Pablo Lopez and Jose Urena all need to achieve more consistency and control, especially in a cutthroat division like the East.
Miami did avail itself of an interesting closing candidate this offseason in Brandon Kintzler. The right-hander showed surprisingly well for the Cubs in his age-34 season in 2019 by posting 17 holds, a 2.68 ERA and 1.02 WHIP across 62 appearances. Kintzler also recorded 46 saves for the Twins and Nats during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. However, if he proves incapable of consistently shutting the door, manager Don Mattingly could turn to Ryne Stanek or Brad Boxberger. The pair of former Rays both have the stuff and experience to be utilized in a closing capacity.
There are certainly occasions when taking a flyer on a long shot is warranted. However, enticing as the prices on their futures are, the Marlins simply don’t seem to have a logical path to even take their very tough division, much less accomplish anything beyond that. Sure, in as unpredictable a season as 2020 promises to be, anything can theoretically happen. Nevertheless, all four of the Marlins’ division mates are exponentially more talented in the all-important area of pitching. That once again looks set to be Miami’s biggest downfall this season.
An example of how a wager on the Marlins winning the NL East would pay out at the current odds listed above is as follows:
Wager amount: $10.00
Division winner odds: (DraftKings Sportsbook): +10000
Payout: $1,010.00: ($1000 + original $10.00 bet amount)
Marlins odds: Futures
Marlins betting breakdown
2019 record: 57-105
Key losses: 2B Starlin Castro, LHP Wei-Yen Chen, OF Curtis Granderson, 3B Martin Prado, SS JT Riddle, IF Neil Walker
Key additions: 1B Jesus Aguilar, RHP Brad Boxberger, C Francisco Cervelli, OF Corey Dickerson, RHP Yimi Garcia, OF Matt Joyce, RHP Brandon Kintzler, OF Matt Kemp (since released), UT Sean Rodriguez, LHP Stephen Tarpley, 2B Jonathan Villar
1. CF Jonathan Villar (S)
2. 3B Brian Anderson (R)
3. LF Corey Dickerson (L)
4. 1B Jesus Aguilar (R)
5. RF Matt Joyce (L)
6. 2B Isan Diaz (L
7. DH Garrett Cooper (R)
8. C Jorge Alfaro (R)
9. SS Miguel Rojas (R)
Projected rotation: RHP Sandy Alcantara, LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Pablo Lopez, RHP Jose Urena, RHP Jordan Yamamoto
Projected closer: RHP Brandon Kintzler
Bullpen strengths: Brandon Kintzler, a 2017 All Star, is the likely closer and posted a 2.68 ERA and 49 SO over 62 games in 2019 with the Cubs Yimi Garcia will be utilized in late-inning situations after a solid 2019 with the Dodgers. Garcia posted a 3.61 ERA in 62.1 IP with 66 Strikeouts.
Bullpen weaknesses: Drew Steckenrider is coming off an injury-shortened season in 2019, when he was sidelined by a flexor strain. Steckenrider ultimately posted a 6.28 ERA in 15 games. He is reportedly healthy and in line to fill a setup role in 2020. Adam Conley is looking to rebound after a poor 2019. The left-hander posted a 2-11 record and 6.53 ERA across 60 appearances. Ryne Stanek was traded from the Rays to Miami in 2019. Stanek’s 22 appearances with the Marlins were a bit rough, as he posted a 5.48 ERA with one save, 28 SO and nine games finished in 21.1 innings.
Key Stats from 2019
- Jorge Alfaro had a productive 2019 -.262/.312/.424 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs over 130 games. However, he also posted an astronomical 33.1 percent strikeout rate.
- Jesus Aguilar’s production dipped from 35 HRs & 108 RBIs in 2018 to 12 HRs & 50 RBIs in 2019.
- Jonathan Villar recorded a career-high 24 HRs and 73 RBIs in ‘19 with the Orioles.
- Brian Anderson is likely to start at third base after logging 67 games at the hot corner in 2019, along with 55 in right field. Anderson hit .261 with 20 HRs and 66 RBIs in ‘19.
- Lewis Brinson enters a pivotal season after hitting .173 with no HRs in 75 major-league games with the Marlins in 2019.
- Sandy Alcantara was the lone Miami All-Star with a 3.88 ERA (6-14) in 197.1 innings.
- Pablo Lopez was limited to 21 starts and 111.1 innings in 2019 due to a shoulder strain.
- Marlins Park will move the center field wall in seven feet to 400 feet, and right-center field 12 feet in to 387 ft. Additionally, a turf field has been installed.