5 Takeaways from Marlins Series Win over Nationals
5 Takeaways from Marlins Series Win over Nationals
Apr 24, 2024 3:09 AM

The Miami Marlins entered their five-game, four-day wrap around series versus the Washington Nationals having lost five straight. The Marlins arrived in D.C. struggling at the plate, particularly with runners-in-scoring-position. While starting pitching had been the team’s strength thus far, there were a few hiccups with that, too.

However, the Marlins ended their five-game skid and took the series versus the Nationals 3-2. The series win marked Miami’s first in D.C. since 2018, and the team’s first five-game series win since 2004.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins series win over the Nationals.

Offense Finally Opening Up

After huge struggles with runners-in-scoring-position during the losing streak, the Marlins offense broke out during this series. On Monday, the team batted around in the fourth inning, seeing eight baserunners and getting six hits.

An inning after leaving the bases loaded (something the team has struggled with this season), the Marlins plated six runs, including four with two outs. Nine of the team’s 11 runs on Monday came with two outs.

All told, the Marlins offense posted 5.2 runs-per-game during the series played in D.C. That’s after managing just 2.2 runs-per-game during the losing skid. With runners-in-scoring-position, Miami went 12-for-37 (.324), versus just 7-for-38 (.184) during the losing streak. Those five extra hits made the difference between winning the series and continuing the slide.

Returns of Alfaro and Rojas Are Key

Its well-trodden territory talking about the COVID-19 outbreak for the Marlins, but versus the Nationals, Miami finally saw some important returns.

Miguel Rojas signaled his return in a loud way. The unofficial captain of the team, who’d been live tweeting games while in quarantine and rehab, connected on a 3-run home run in his first at-bat back. He turned on a 2-0 offering from Patrick Corbin and immediately injected life into the lineup. In the series, Rojas went 3-for-13, with four RBI, three walks and three runs scored.

Jorge Alfaro, meanwhile, made his season debut during this series. Lost prior to Opening Day to COVID-19, Alfaro started as DH on Friday, then took over catching duties once Francisco Cervelli was lost to a concussion. Alfaro’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time.

Alfaro singled in his first at-bat. He turned on the first pitch he saw and punched it into left field, later scoring on Rojas’s homer. Alfaro also went 3-for-13 in the series and registered his first RBI of the season yesterday.

Big Time Debuts in Marlins and Nationals Series

The Marlins have had 14 players make their MLB debut this season: INF Eddy Alvarez, LHP Daniel Castano, INF Lewin Díaz, RHP Jorge Guzman, OF Monte Harrison, RHP Jordan Holloway, LHP Brandon Leibrandt, RHP Humberto Mejía, C Brian Navaretto, RHP NickNeidert, OF Jesus Sanchez, RHP Sixto Sanchez, RHP Sterling Sharp and LHP Alex Vesia.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 14 debuts matches St Louis for most in the Majors this season. Entering 2020, no team in MLB history had as many debuts over a team’s first 25 games. Elias also notes that the 14 MLB debuts matches the second-most for a single-season in Franchise history (14 in 1998 and 16 in 2010). More debuts are to come.

Sixto Sanchez’s debut came with particular fanfare and the team’s top prospect did not disappoint. Sanchez earned the win in his debut in the nightcap of the doubleheader over the weekend. He threw five innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs and two homers. He posted four strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Sanchez will be a fixture in the rotation moving forward.

“He’s gonna pitch every fifth day,” Mattingly said yesterday. “Right now, he’s in this rotation and we don’t plan on him going anywhere.”

Jesus Sanchez also made his much-awaited Marlins debut versus the Nationals. Although Sanchez has yet to break out (1-for-15), he’s demonstrating good patience at the plate. He sees 4.2 pitches-per-plate-appearance and has drawn four walks. He’s only struck out five times thus far, 26 percent of his plate appearances. Harrison, who Sanchez replaced in the lineup, has a strikeout rate of 54 percent.

Bullpen Needs Reinforcements

While the lineup has started to see players return, the bullpen remains threadbare. The Marlins bullpen has the 10th-worst ERA in MLB (5.09) and a negative-1.1 WAR (29th). Since the team’s restart after the outbreak, the bullpen’s ERA is 5.13 (8th-highest).

The biggest problem for the bullpen has been walks. Since August 4th, Miami’s bullpen issues walks at a rate of 4.5 BB/9. They’ve also allowed 1.67 HR/9, 19 in total this season. Justin Shafer has allowed the most runs out of the ‘pen (8), with Stephen Tarpley and Sharp trailing right behind (7).

Brandon Kintzler, though, has been solid as the closer, converting all six of his save opportunities.

With the starters pitching well, it’s important that the bullpen maintain leads moving forward. Kintzler has stabilized the back end, but the bridges from starter to closer need to be sturdier. Nick Vincent, Brad Boxberger and James Hoyt have all had a measure of success, and that will need to continue, especially with Tarpley landing on the IL.

The Marlins expect Yimi Garcia, Ryne Stanek, Vesia and others back soon.

Roster Shuffle Continues

With those bullpen arms waiting in the wings, many of those players lost to the IL due to COVID are near their return. Sandy Alcantara nearly made the trip to Washington, and Jose Urena and Caleb Smith are both readying themselves as well.

The Marlins designated Sharp for assignment after the young reliever’s recent troubles. His Rule-5 designation means he’ll be returned to the Nationals. Richard Bleier returned from the IL, but several other relievers remain unavailable.

Miami elected to recall Lewin Diaz for this week’s series versus the New York Mets, as well as relievers Guzman and Jesús Tinoco. The team reinstated Alvarez from Paternity List and optioned him to the Alternate Training Site in Jupiter. Leibrandt was also optioned after a successful MLB debut.

These moves have been made to prepare the Marlins for a key series versus the Mets. With four games in three days, the Marlins are looking to maintain their hold on a playoff spot while they await the return of the other players on the IL.

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