Marlins need to step up their gameBy
Down the left field corner at Marlins Park lies the home-team’s bullpen. Some familiar faces are in there, from the side-arming Steve Cishek, to the entertaining Edward Mujica. There are some faces you might not recognize, though. Chad Gaudin has hopped around from team to team, minors to majors since 2002. Heath Bell, the first face that we saw come out of the major signings the Fish made during the Winter Meetings last year, boasts a great, effective past with the San Diego Padres. The bullpen, with its recent strengths shown in 2011 and its new additions added in the offseason, was projected to have a pretty darn good year in 2012. Well, so far, that’s not happening.
Well, run support isn’t happening either, you could argue. But deep down in the 14 quality starts of the last 18 outings from starting pitchers, the fact that the $27M Heath Bell has three blown saves, and the five losses from relievers (most in N.L., tied with Chicago Cubs), you can to see that a struggling bullpen is a bit of a problem for Miami.
The Marlins currently have a reliever ERA of 3.40, ranked 16th in the MLB. They also have only two saves in seven opportunities. Miami’s bullpen walked four consecutive batters twice in the series they just finished up against the New York Mets, one of the times coming all from closer Heath Bell. To me, this is baffling. I expected more to come from the bullpen, and much, much more from Bell. Yet, when you look at the stats, the Marlins have the second-lowest amount in the Majors for hits allowed, with 36, just below the Texas Rangers, who have 34. Miami has the fifth-best OPS against their relief in the N.L.
So, what exactly is happening to cause the losses? The bullpen needs to clean up their game (points directly at Heath Bell), but are they really dealing that many woes? I don’t think so, to a certain extent. That extent being the fact that they’re doing slightly below average, and that’s despite the past few games, which have been awful. I believe our offense is where the problem lies.
Miami has a .232 batting average, ranked 27th in the majors. They have 61 runs, ranked 28th in the majors. 139 hits, ranked 27th. 49 walks, ranked 24th. They’ve grounded into 18 double plays, the second-most in the N.L.
Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t hit a home-run yet, and has 17 strikeouts. Hanley Ramirez continues his struggles with a .221 batting average and 19 strikeouts. Jose Reyes has 31 ground-outs, and has .205 batting average. That “big 3″ really isn’t working out so far, is it?
The fact that our biggest hitters aren’t delivering hits or RBI’s (giving Hanley Ramirez the benefit of this, as he has 12 RBI’s that leads team); that’s tough to get by. When Omar Infante (who is slugging .745, w/ 1.072 OPS), Emilio Bonifacio, and Logan Morrison continue to get base-hits without any support from our biggest guys, that’s killing the teams win possibilities. When your cheaper players are doing well, and the stars aren’t doing squat, you put losses in the book. The lack of run support for the quality starts from our starting pitchers will come back to bite us later in the season, there’s no denying it. If Carlos Zambrano takes a deep dive toward the end of the season and you’re providing runs then; but he’s giving up runs himself, you can imagine the players will be wishing they gave him some run support back in the early part of the season to get some wins.
Even though some middle-men are getting hits, some aren’t. John Buck is batting an awful .196. Chris Coghlan continues to not succeed, as he only has four hits in 28 at-bats with a .143 batting average.
I randomly threw out stats in this article, because it simply cannot be said any easier. I’m not at the point of panicking, not even close. But this is definitely not a start that we wanted. Manager Ozzie Guillen needs to step up and mix some things up. And maybe make smarter decisions, because he sure hasn’t so far.
The Marlins’ April hitting woes will come back to haunt them if they make a run the later part of this long season. Which I have a feeling it will. The potential from this team is massive, and the only way they can get to where they want to be is to not play .500 ball– they need to dominate. It would be quite nice if they can have an opposite of June 2011, huh?