Marlins’ fans have been in for a pretty exciting season thus far, and while the end is approaching, a big question looms: do the Fish have what it takes to play October baseball? Here are three things Miami must do to be successful in their postseason push.
- Tighten Up the Bullpen: Prior to the season, some speculated that the Marlins‘ bullpen may be one of the best assets to their team. While the bullpen has done a rather decent job overall, they have faced challenges as of late. Manager Don Mattingly likes to stick to a formula, typically using Kyle Barraclough, A.J. Ramos, and Fernando Rodney in the backend of the pen. Barraclough’s main issue has been walks: he has 38 walks in just over 58 innings. Ramos just returned from a stint on the DL, but did not look sharp prior to his injury. Rodney has struggled pitching in the eighth inning, but appears to be somewhat settling down since being moved to the closing role. If the Fish have any hopes of contending this postseason, they need to tighten up their bullpen, and they need to do it quickly.
2. Overcome Injuries: The Marlins must remain strong despite the multiple injuries that have come upon them. Justin Bour was recently transferred to the 60-day DL, and Giancarlo Stanton is dealing with a likely season-ending groin strain. Between these two, the Fish have lost two of their core power hitters. Derek Dietrich was placed on the 15-day DL earlier this week, adding to the growing list of injured players. However, injuries are no excuse for Miami. Every team deals with them; the Fish must figure out how to play despite them. Losing power means the Marlins must focus on getting baserunners and getting hits consistently, as well as hitting with runners in scoring position. They also need to work on their running game. If Miami can add an offensive spark, it would be a serious boost towards their playoff hopes.
3. Solidify Their Rotation: Lastly, the Fish must solidify their rotation. Miami is being very cautious with Jose Fernandez, who they have on a strict innings limit. Tom Koehler has stepped up to the plate and been arguably their best starter as of late. Koehler has gone 6+ innings his last 3 starts, giving up a combined total of just 5 earned runs. With Adam Conley’s finger injury, David Phelps has helped the Fish out in a tough spot. His move from the bullpen to the rotation seems to be going rather seamlessly. Recent addition Andrew Cashner appears to be settling into the rotation after a few good starts. The Marlins must work on solidifying the fifth spot of their rotation to round out the picture.