The Miami Marlins are now set to host the Washington Nationals for three games. I had the chance to talk to Fish Stripes manager Michael Jong about the Marlins season since they left Washington now that they meet again.
The Marlins offense has been struggling - to put it lightly. Teams don't have any reason to pitch to Giancarlo Stanton, and now with his injury concerns where can the Marlins expect runs to come from?
The Marlins have very few options in terms of scoring runs, and they are shooting themselves further in the foot by making certain moves to harm their already poor run-scoring chances. The Fish are platooning their second-best hitter, 2012 breakout Justin Ruggiano, with former 2009 Rookie of the Year and now failed prospect Chris Coghlan, with the lefty Coghlan getting more appearances. The team is also batting Greg Dobbs, he of the pinch-hitting fame, in prominent positions in the lineup such as cleanup. The club's best chances are with a not-struggling Stanton, Ruggiano, Rob Brantly, and whatever else they can drudge up for the remaining positions, but the team has yet to do that consistently in 2013.
On a positive note, Jose Fernandez has been very good in his first two starts in Major League Baseball. There were a lot of people angry and who didn't like the decision. Has his start tempered that with Marlins fans to a certain extent? Can this continue?
The early success of Jose Fernandez certainly has Marlins fans more excited than usual during his starts, and it has alleviated some concerns that he may not be ready for the major leagues. But just because Fernandez is ready (and two starts does not assuredly tell you that he is) does not mean that his promotion was a good move, and the smart Marlins fan knows that Fernandez's play does not justify the Marlins' decision to start his service time clock in a meaningless season. The Fish may pay for this decision down the road, and they will regret it.
Besides Fernandez, the Marlins rotation has been solid - just not getting the run support. Are there other positives so far this season despite the 2-9 start?
The positives are indeed few and far between. Even among the successful starting pitching performance thus far, only Wade LeBlanc has been particularly impressive thanks to a streak of strikeouts in his first two outings. Kevin Slowey's and Ricky Nolasco's low ERAs are supported by tape and tatters and should regress shortly. Meanwhile, nothing has been going well offensively. About the only other positive I can think of is the promising defensive start of Adeiny Hechavarria, who seems to be making good defensive plays at shortstop after years of poor performance for the Marlins at the position.
With low expectations meaning wins and losses don't mean too much do fans tend to look at the individual positives despite the team's losses?
Here at Fish Stripes, we have a simple motto: #minorvictories. So in a way, this is all we are measuring in a 2013 season that was lost before it even began. Even our 2013 Marlins keys to success are all players who are using 2013 to hone their skills and develop rather than contribute to a winning ball club. No, this franchise can look no further than the #minorvictories in this season, because there will be few true wins for a team that is now not only destitute in talent but suffering in injuries. When it rains, it pours in Miami. The only option is to look for the small glimmers of sunlight between the dark clouds.