The 2021 Major League Baseball season is finally underway! Unlike last year, the major-league campaign is back to its traditional late March/early-April start with a stacked Opening Weekend “match card”. Twenty-eight of the league’s thirty teams opened their seasons, with the Nationals and the Mets (the remaining two teams) teams) postponing their series.
The 2021 Miami Marlins had a tough task to start off a crucial 2021 season. The club faced the reigning American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, over a three-game skid that was held in an unusual window – Thursday through Saturday. As far as results, the most important thing, the Marlins were able to showcase their strengths but still lost two of their three intrastate showdowns.
Here’s the best of the best (and the worst of the worst) across the 2021 Miami Marlins’ opening weekend.
2021 Miami Marlins Opening Weekend: The Recap
On April 1st, which happened to be Opening Day across Major League Baseball, both the Marlins and the Rays brought out their heavy artillery. On the mound, Sandy Alcantara and Tyler Glasnow had a memorable pitching matchup that resulted in an extremely close game.
However, the bad news is that Yimi Garcia, who impressed mightily last year with Miami, conceded the only run for the day. After six scoreless innings by Sandy Alcantara, and a clean relief appearance by Dylan Floro, Austin Meadows hit a home run that would end up making the difference.
Miami only recorded three hits, two of which were by first baseman, Jesus Aguilar. Furthermore, Ross Detwiler and Adam Cimber combined for a stress-free ninth inning that ended up as nothing more than a mere consolation. Although it would seem like the 2021 Miami Marlins bullpen was insufficient in this matchup, it would only get worse throughout the weekend. Although such a short period is deceptive regarding the real capabilities of a player or a unit, one of 2020’s worst bullpens nodded that the woes haven’t disappeared despite the promising acquisitions.
For Tampa Bay, Tyler Glasnow was lights-out with six innings, one allowed hit, and no runs for the Marlins. Moreover, Tampa’s relief staff conceded just two hits, boosting the Rays to a huge Opening Day win against the top of the Marlins’ rotation.
Game One: Rays win 1-0
Another top-notch Rays starter, Ryan Yarbrough, was able to shut down the Marlins for the game’s first 5.2 innings. However, once he exited the mound for good, Miami’s lineup was able to hurt TB’s bullpen. The group posted a 10-hit performance, with Chaz Roe allowing two runs and Ryan Sheriff blowing a safe opportunity.
Starling Marte had three hits, while both rookie second baseman Jazz Chisholm and leadoff shortstop Miguel Rojas registered two-hit days. Also, the latter was responsible for two runs batted in, amounting to half of the Marlins’ four runs. Miami took a 4-2 lead into the ninth. Anthony Bass, the Marlins’ most expensive relief signing, climbed the mound, preparing for his first save for the 2021 Miami Marlins. Safe to say, things didn’t go as planned.
Joey Wendle‘s three-run big fly and Francisco Mejia‘s RBI sacrifice fly sealed the series for Tampa and derailed a great start by Pablo Lopez. Lopez, who was the best Marlins starter last summer en route to a breakout year, allowed just two hits and no runs across five innings, accompanied by two walks and four strikeouts. Furthermore, Richard Bleier and John Curtiss each surrendered a run in their first one-inning relief appearances in 2021. While Garcia rebounded off his disappointing showing the previous day, Bass broke down (to say the least) in his Marlins debut.
Game Two: Rays win 6-4
Win – Andrew Kittredge (1-0); Loss – Anthony Bass (0-1)
For the first time this season, the Marlins’ starting pitching was vulnerable. This time, it was the bats that became the driving force behind the Marlins’ play in a game that finally ended with them on top.
Elieser Hernandez made his first start of the 2021 campaign and only went 2.1 innings before exiting with a hand injury. The Venezuelan allowed two hits, one of which a homer, and two runs, alongside three strikeouts. After Hernandez’s departure, the Marlins tested the depth of their bullpen, using Paul Campbell for two innings and Adam Cimber for two-thirds of the sixth inning. The two relievers combined for four surrendered runs, and the Rays had six against their name by the conclusion of the sixth. Thankfully, Miami’s batting order also clicked and they were no worse by that point.
The Miami Marlins scored one run in each of their first four turns to bat. Jesus Aguilar and Chad Wallach, a second-string catcher, both drove in a run via a sac fly, while Garrett Cooper posted his first homerun of the year. In the second, Wallach registered another RBI, allowing Jon Berti to score after a single to right field. After Aguilar drove Marte on a line-drive double and scored on an error, the score was tied after six at LoanDepot Park.
Garrett Cooper would go on to contribute to two more Marlins runs and Adam Duvall would also hit his first 2021 big fly on the road to an impressive 12-7 win for Miami. Rich Hill and Chris Archer each allowed four runs on the mound, while Starling Marte had a game-high four hits. Moreover, Garrett Cooper drove in the most runs for the NL East club with three RBI, also posting three hits.
Game Three: Marlins win 12-7
Win – Richard Bleier (1-0); Loss – Chris Archer (0-1)
2021 Miami Marlins Opening Series: The Numbers
- Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez – 11 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 11 K, 4 BB; 0.00 ERA, 7.4 K/9 – The top of the Marlins rotation performed at its phenomenal level from last year on its first turn. Alcantara and Lopez managed to turn in clean outings and set the bar very high heading into a promising year. The 2021 Miami Marlins rotation has already taken notable hits – Sixto Sanchez needs more time in the minors and Elieser Hernandez might be injured. Therefore, the club needs its two aces to pitch even more dominantly, and the start of the 2021 season is potentially a sigh of relief in that department.
- 2021 Miami Marlins Bullpen – 7.24 ERA, 2.63 HR/9 – The Marlins bullpen picked up exactly where they left off in 2020. Last year’s sixth-worst bullpen allowed every conceded Marlins run except for two surrendered by Hernandez. In addition, it also gave up league-high four homeruns.
- Dylan Floro – 2 G, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 9.0 K/9 – Floro joined the 2021 Miami Marlins after conceding less than a homerun and three walks per nine over his last three seasons – in other words, a risk-free performance. This steadiness has helped him so far, with the former Dodger not giving up a run or a base on balls, in addition to two strikeouts. Floro was the best reliever through the first series of the Marlins campaign but there’s still much time to go in 2021.
- Miguel Rojas – 3 H/10 AB, 3 BB, 2 RBI, .462 OBP, .400 SLUG; Starling Marte – 7/14, 1 RBI, 0 BB, .500 OBP, .714 SLUG – The two most consistent hitters on the 2021 Miami Marlins lineup had a productive weekend, both in terms of reaching bases and hitting for power. A single weekend doesn’t yet say much with 159 games to go, though.
2021 Miami Marlins Opening Weekend: The Notes
- There hasn’t been any information regarding Elieser Hernandez’s injury, sustained in the third game (Saturday) of the Marlins’ intra-state series. His health woes could be a significant issue for a Miami starting pitching staff that had high hopes but has already lost Sixto Sanchez for the time being. Daniel Castano, Nick Neidert, and Braxton Garrett, the latter two of which are within the top 15 of the Marlins’ MLB Pipeline prospect list, are candidates to fill in the opening. Meanwhile, Trevor Rogers is scheduled to start on the mound in Monday’s home game versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
- Chad Wallach had two hits in four plate appearances in his first start as a 2021 Miami Marlins’ catcher. At the same time, Jorge Alfaro registered just one hit in seven PA across the team’s inaugural pair of 2021 clashes. Wallach would find it difficult to keep up a sufficient level of consistency with an increased workload. Nonetheless, the Marlins would be great beneficiaries if he manages to post a breakthrough campaign, with Alfaro’s long-lasting offensive struggles in the background.
- Out of the five outfielders with at least six plate appearances, three finished the series with a batting average under .170 – Lewis Brinson, Corey Dickerson, and Adam Duvall. While the latter has proven to be capable of much better display at the plate prior to the 2021 Miami Marlins campaign, Brinson and Dickerson have had similar or better but still disappointing figures over their past few seasons. A single series serves as no applicable evidence. However, their performance over the weekend wasn’t promising by any means.
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