At first glance, it seemed that the schedule changes that went into effect as of 2023 could benefit the Miami Marlins. Fast forward to October, and Miami will now make it back to the playoffs for the first time in 2020, and it’ll be the first occassion that the Marlins be play postseason games in a full season since their second World Series championship year in 2003. Here’s how the Marlins look as Miami enters the MLB Postseason for the first time in three years.
A Look at the Marlins Offense
The 2022 Marlins offense proved to be a major issue. Miami scored the third-fewest runs in MLB (586) last year and the fourth-lowest team OPS (.658) last year. The Marlins did improve that run total (668) in 2023, but still scored the fifth-fewest runs. Still, Miami’s offense was good enough to get the Marlins back into October.
The two stars in the Miami lineup this season were Jorge Soler and Luis Arraez. Soler did not perform up to par in his first season with Miami, but the 31-year-old brought the power in 2023 and made life without Jazz Chisholm Jr. — who played 97 games as of October 1 — much easier. The Marlins slugger belted 36 home runs and 60 extra-base hits across 137 games.
Then, there’s Luis Arraez. Arraez was acquired in a major trade this past offseason, that saw Miami trade from their pitching depth and moved right-hander Pablo Lopez to Minnesota. Arraez became a rock atop the Marlins lineup, as he notched 203 hits, finished in the top ten in MLB in OBP (.393), and will end the 2023 season as the National League batting champion.
He couldn’t manage to sustain the .400 batting average he sported earlier in the summer, but Arraez nonetheless had himself a terrific season.
Burger proved to be a huge boost for the Marlins. The Marlins third baseman posted a top-35 OPS (.872) from August 2 onward and belted nine home runs and 22 extra-base hits with the Fish. And as for Bell, the switch-hitter found his groove and looked more like the Bell from the first half of 2022. The veteran first baseman hit 11 home runs as a member of the Marlins.
With Burger, Bell, and a healthy Chisholm Jr., the Marlins offense looks awfully more formidable than it did for much of 2023.
A Look at the Marlins Pitching
Even without Pablo Lopez, the Marlins were well-equipped on the pitching side of things heading into 2023. Miami’s roster includes a treasure trove of young pitching talent and the 2022 NL Cy Young award winner Sandy Alcantara.
Their arms proved to be a strength this season, as Miami’s pitching staff struck out the fifth-most batters (1,481) — but it wasn’t pretty at times.
Alcantara’s ERA rose to 4.14 after a strong 2.28 ERA in 2022. While there a lot of promising stats —the rigthty still induced plenty of ground balls and chases — the reality was that Alcantara did get hit around more than Miami would have liked. He did rebound to have a better second half (3.20 ERA, 57 K in 70.1 IP), but a UCL injury knocked him out in September.
Trevor Rogers and free agent acquisition Johnny Cueto missed a healthy of amount of time on the IL, and the latter posted an ERA north of 6.00 when on the mound. Given all the injuries, much of the onus this season was on Braxton Garrett, Jesus Luzardo, and youngster Eury Perez.
Perez won’t play a factor in October, as he’s been shut down for the year. Garrett and Luzardo, however, will. Garrett struck out 156 batters and walked just 29 over 159.2 IP, while Luzardo struck out 208 batters in what’s been a breakout campaign for the 25-year-old.
As far as Miami’s bullpen is concerned, Miami didn’t receive premium results from trade acquisition David Robertson, but did from lefties Andrew Nardi and Tanner Scott, the latter of whom emerged as Miami’s best arm heading into the MLB Postseason. A.J. Puk, George Soriano, and JT Chargois also provided solid results.
The Marlins will go into October with Garrett, Luzardo, and Cabrera, three young starters under the age of 26. But with no Alcantara and Perez, the Marlins’ pitching depth is set to be tested.
How the Marlins Can Win it All
One could argue that the 2023 campaign for Miami could already be considered a success. However, the Marlins will look for more — but the road won’t be easy.
With a pile of injuries in the starting pitching department, the Marlins will need the two young lefties Garrett and Luzardo to perform well, and the Marlins bullpen to hold together games.
Another obvious plotline will be the health of Luis Arraez, as the All-Star second baseman has dealt with an ankle sprain in recent weeks. His availability has been limited in recent weeks, and the Marlins will need him and his bat at the top of the lineup.