Miami Marlins Monday Week 16: Bats Still on Break

Let’s start with the Good. Jose Fernandez’s All-Star appearance. The Marlins’ lone representative at the mid-season classic pitched a perfect sixth inning, and wowing a number of people in the process. Fernandez dispatched former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and MLB homerun leader Chris Davis in order, striking out Pedroia looking, getting Cabrera to pop-up, and sending down Davis with a nasty curveball in the dirt the big-bopper flailed at.

“He’s really impressive,” said San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, who caught the inning for Fernandez. “You figured there would be a lot of nerves and excitement. But he showed great poise and obviously the stuff speaks for itself.”

“He was dirty, man,” Chris Davis said. “He threw me that curveball to start off the at-bat. It looked like a heater coming in, and then it just disappeared. Then he finished me off with it.”

Now to the Bad. It’s been more than a full week since the Marlins, the worst offense in the league, have plated a run. The current 37-inning scoreless streak is the longest such streak since Houston Astros went 42 scoreless innings in 1985. 1985! Against the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, the team managed only 15 hits in the three-game series. Six of those hits came from rookie shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. On Sunday, pitcher Henderson Alvarez had one of the four hits for the team (Hechavarria had two).

“Right now, it’s a little tough to watch,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said after Sunday’s game. His words are an understatement.

Miami Marlins Throwback uniforms

The Ugly came on Saturday. The Fish sported throwback unis to honor the Negro Leagues. The threads came from the 1956 incarnation of the Miami Marlins, with a No. 29 patch on the sleeve to honor the great Satchel Paige, and had a distinctly Florida Gator/New York Met feel to them. The 1956 Miami Marlins were a Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Brewers wore the uniforms of the 1923 Milwaukee Bears, a team part of the Negro National League at the time.

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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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