Miami Marlins Monday Week 15: Things Are Lookin’ Up

Miami MarlinsFor a time this season, it looked like the Miami Marlins would be epically, historically bad. Now? They’re just bad, but things are looking up. The team started a putrid 14-42, and were solidly in the discussion of worst team of all-time, but after a few key pieces returned from injury, and a few young arms made it up to the Majors, the team has turned it around. Well, in so far as having just the second worst record in the majors can be considered “turning it around.”

Despite the early failures, the Marlins seem to have built a solid young foundation on which to scaffold their way up the standings in the years to come. The cornerstone of that foundation might not be the player everyone assumed it would be, Giancarlo Stanton, but actually the 20-year old rookie phenom, Jose Fernandez.

Fernandez, a right-handed starter who was not initially part of the team’s roster coming out of spring training, joined the staff after injuries ravaged Marlins pitchers. The young Cuban defector has been unflappable in his short time in the Majors, as evidenced by his 2.75 ERA (11th best in the MLB) through 18 starts. In fact, because of his steady performance and stellar play, Fernandez was selected as the All-Star representative for the Miami Marlins.

“It’s just incredible,” Fernandez said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “When they told me, I just started sweating and my hands started getting cold. They still are right now. I was just sitting around and thinking this is just incredible. I’m going to do the best I can.”

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect to Fernandez’s game is the clear joy with which he plays. Despite his young age, Fernandez gets it. He survived four escape attempts from Cuba, jail time in his native country for trying to flee and the near drowning of his mother, and yet, the unabashed happiness exuded by the young star still shines through.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond called Fernandez the “face of the franchise” earlier this season. If the ownership group has any foresight, they’ll make sure that Fernandez, and many of the other budding young players performing right alongside him, will be part of the franchise for years to come.
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Miami Marlins Monday Week 13: Walk-Off Slam and Showing Skin

Miami MarlinsThe Miami Marlins capped a resurgent month of June with a walk-off grand slam from perhaps the most unlikely of candidates in their lineup. Light-hitting catcher Jeff Mathis entered the game on Sunday hitting .121, and was 1-for-15 (.067) with runners in scoring position at that point. The Padres, understandably, had intentionally walked Greg Dobbs to pitch to Mathis, but Mathis was able to connect for the game-winner. 

The walk-off grand slam added a 15th win to the June tally, a number the team didn’t reach in April and May combined (14-41). Plugging in Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison to the lineup has been a major reason why the team has been able to drive in runs at a higher clip this past month. The emergence of rookies Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich as everyday players has also been a contributing factor. But while the arrival of a number of players off the disabled list and up from the minors has clearly helped the offense, perhaps the biggest key to the improvement in June was the pitching. During one ten-game stretch, the Marlins pitching staff held opponents to three runs or fewer.

The following quote from Marlins manager Mike Redmond comes from the Sun-Sentinel:

“To do what we did in June is great,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Are with happy with it? Yes. Are we satisfied with it? No. You’re seeing a different attitude, a different approach out there. We’ve got some guys healthy and different contributors that we didn’t get the first couple of months. We’re having fun.”

In addition to the walk-off slam, Marlins fans recently found out that Giancarlo Stanton and his big bopper will be featured in ESPN the Magazine’s fifth annual The Body Issue. This issue celebrates the physical form of our athletes today, and Stanton’s physique will be on display for all to see. Stanton was asked recently about his body, and the 23-year old slugger mentioned that he does 100 sit-ups and 100 push-ups to keep his chest and stomach well toned.

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