Marlins Earn First Win of 2024 Season After Losing Nine Straight

Marlins vs Angels 4/2/24

Photo by Luis Pabon

Miami, FL It took longer than many fans wanted but finally, for the first time in the 2024 season, the Miami Marlins are in the win column. The Fish earned their first win of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals defeating them 10-3 on Sunday afternoon. The journey to get that first win was not a fun one after opening the season by dropping their first nine contests. It is by far the worst start in franchise history and it begs the question, how did the Marlins end up 1-9 to start the season? Whether it was inconsistent offense, bullpen collapses, or inefficient starting pitching, Miami found countless ways to lose games. Let’s just hope another nine-game losing streak doesn’t happen again this season.

Marlins Bullpen Meltdowns

The Marlins avoided a third straight series sweep after securing their first win against the Cardinals in the finale. Miami jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning. That still wasn’t enough to inspire confidence in fans with how the pitching staff has performed, specifically the bullpen. It seems like this losing skid could have been avoided multiple times dating back to Opening Day against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately, the bullpen has played a large role in the streak due to blowing leads.

Including Opening Day, out of the Marlins’ 10 games, their bullpen has blown leads in four of them. If you cancel that out and add their only win, that gives Miami a .500 record at 5-5. The bullpen blew a lead twice in the series against Pittsburgh, once against the Angels, and once against the Cardinals. Some factors that contributed to the Marlins’ bullpen collapses have been their heavy workload and the type of arms used in certain situations.

Max Meyer’s start in Miami’s lone win was six innings. That marks the first time this season that a starter for Miami completes six innings of work. As a team, when your bullpen has more innings recorded than your starting rotation through 10 games, that is a recipe for a long losing season. It seems like Miami is having a hard time bridging the gap to their closer, Tanner Scott. Possibly, the lack of reps or usage is hurting Scott since Miami has been playing from behind most of the season.

Good Bullpen Pieces, Bad Time to Use Them

Going into this season it was clear that Scott was going to be the closer, but the setup pitchers before him had many question marks. J.T. Chargois being on the IL and Huascar Brazoban out for personal reasons hurts Miami’s right-handed pitching depth out of the bullpen. This has led to Miami relying on unfamiliar names in unfamiliar roles like Declan Cronin, Burch Smith, and Bryan Hoeing.

Miami is also relying on pitchers who haven’t pitched in an MLB game in multiple seasons to hold leads. Anthony Bender is being used in a late-inning role right out of the gate. The flip side is, he hasn’t pitched in the MLB since the middle of the 2022 season. Another MLB comeback that was completed this year was Sixto Sanchez. The organization’s former No.1 overall prospect has not pitched off a big league mound since 2020. Sanchez was phenomenal in 2o20 but that was also the COVID season in front of zero fans in the stands. After four years, a lot has changed.

I’m sure it has been difficult for manager Skip Schumaker to piece together this bullpen. He needs to manage a bullpen currently missing some key pieces while also handling pitching “projects” like Bender and Sanchez. With the lack of depth, and with the current relievers not performing well, pitchers like George Soriano and Andrew Nardi are being used in high-leverage situations. Soriano and Nardi have each pitched 4 1/3 innings so far and Nardi has a whopping 16.62 ERA.

They and others like Cronin, Burch, Bender, and Sanchez are thrust into spots where they have no business being in. Important innings are being given to journeymen, failed prospects, or pitchers in the middle of an MLB comeback.

Miami’s Pitching Depth Depleted

Miami is already starting this season without their ace, Sandy Alcantara, recovering from Tommy John surgery. Speaking of TJ, the pitching staff has dwindled even more with the recent news of Eury Perez needing that surgery and will not pitch in 2024.

The starting rotation has been decimated by injuries from the offseason and Spring Training. However, pitching reinforcements are returning soon with Edward Cabrera and Braxton Garrett. Garrett is coming off a career year making 30 starts with a 9-7 record to go along with a 3.66 ERA. It is fair to say that a rotation of Alcantara, Jesus Luzardo, Garrett, Cabrera, and Perez can be tough to face for any opponent.

Instead, the Marlins opened the season with a rotation of Luzardo, A.J. Puk, Trevor Rogers, Ryan Weathers, and Max Meyer. A completely different rotation and just like the bullpen, filled with a lot of questions. With all the injuries to the starters, Luzardo is now Miami’s No.1. After him, the questions begin starting with Puk.

In four big league seasons, Puk has never started a game. He was acquired from Oakland last offseason and was used as a closer and setup reliever in Miami. The experiment as Puk as a closer was not successful but he still posted a 3.97 ERA in 56 2/3 innings in 2023.

The new experiment as Puk as a starter has not gone according to plan either. His success from Spring Training has not transferred over to the regular season going 0-2 in two starts with a 9.00 ERA in just six innings of work. Let’s see how long Puk’s leash is as a starter or if a move back to the bullpen is inevitable.

A Lefy Rotation … And Max Meyer

The third lefty in the quartet of southpaws in Miami’s rotation is Trevor Rogers. His 2021 All-Star campaign seems like a distant memory after being plagued by injuries in recent seasons. In that same season, he finished second in voting for National League Rookie of the Year going 7-8 with a 2.64 ERA.

His career has taken a dip since that breakout performance. Last season, Rogers started only four games before being ruled out for the remainder of the year. His 2022 campaign was cut short as well starting in 23 games with an abysmal 4-11 record to pair with a 5.47 ERA. Miami’s No.3 is already posting a 0-1 record in 2024 and a 5.40 ERA in just 10 innings.

The last lefty and Miami’s No.4 is Ryan Weathers. The 24-year-old has not had the brightest start to his career. Before coming over in a midseason trade from San Diego last season, Weathers was 5-13 with a 5.73 ERA in 43 games including 29 starts. Things haven’t improved much once he was traded to Miami.

After being acquired in 2023, Weathers posted a 0-2 record in three games, including two starts, and posted a 7.62 ERA. It’s safe to say that Weathers needs a bit more fine-tuning in the minors. However, with Miami’s injuries, it has been all hands on deck.

Marlins’ Hot and Cold Offense

Miami’s offense currently ranks 20th in the MLB in runs per game averaging an even 4. They are 22nd in team batting average, .221. They are getting runners on base, currently 15th in baseball in team hits (77), but an issue that has been haunting this team for years is back; hitting with runners in scoring position. Miami has only batted in 39 runs this season which is 16th in the big leagues. Looking at all these numbers, it is easy to categorize this team’s offense as mid to bottom-tier.

Through 10 games, the Marlins’ run total per game is 5,2,3,7,4,1,2,5,1, and 10. You would think scoring at least five runs in four of those games would be sufficient for a win. That’s where the lack of pitching comes in. On the games Miami’s offense is successful the pitching hasn’t minus their only win of the year. Also, the Marlins’ offense has shown a tendency to fall flat after scoring five or more runs. Miami’s offense has been a roller coaster ride so far. Hopefully, they can carry the momentum of scoring 10 runs in the series finale against St. Louis over to New York against the Yankees.

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