Miami Marlins Simulation Review: Week One
Major League Baseball and Miami Marlins baseball won’t be around for a long time. The league has ruled out a return sooner than early July, and even that could be a tough goal. To fill the void, Out of the Park and Baseball-Reference partnered for a complete 162-game simulation of the MLB regular season. All scores are released daily at around noon ET. Baseball-Reference also keeps stats and standings, available on the data website.
If any team could be a pleasant surprise in the first week of the season, it definitely could have been the Marlins. With seven games already played, Miami sits top of the NL East with a 6-1 record, a game and a half clear at the top of the division.
We never learn who the real contenders and pretenders are until at least one or two months into the year. However, Marlins have the makings of a real solid team according to the simulator. A lot of what was expected to be among the strengths for Miami in 2020 was indeed on point. The 2020 season could have been really interesting had it started on time.
Let’s see what the Marlins simulation predicted on what was going to be the start of the 2020 season.
This Week’s Games: March 26-April 1
Phillies at Marlins
Opening Day at Marlins Park saw a surprise right out of the gate with Pablo Lopez starting on the mound. He didn’t have his best stuff but managed to limit the damage to four runs allowed in four innings, keeping his team in the game.
The Marlins bullpen was superb, setting the bar high for 2020. Drew Steckenrider and Trevor Rogers, who also earned the win, pitched four scoreless in relief before Brandon Kintzler retired the Phillies in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his inaugural save in Miami. The Marlins win on Opening Day for the first since 2016.
The lineup got off to a hot start, scoring six times through the four innings pitched by Aaron Nola (L, 0-1) for the Phillies. Jonathan Villar was terrific from the leadoff spot, reaching base in three of five plate appearances. In addition, Corey Dickerson recorded three hits with 3 RBI and a triple. Brian Anderson batted third and drove in two runs.
The Phillies bounced back in an 8-3 Friday win, boosted by Zack Wheeler‘s masterpiece and Caleb Smith‘s three surrendered runs in the first innings. Smith (L, 0-1) ended up allowing 6 runs over four and a third innings in and left with the Marlins down 6-1 in the fifth.
On Saturday, Jose Urena proved why he belongs in the rotation, at least in the digital one. Urena gave up three over 6.1 innings, while Isan Diaz had three hits in four at-bats. Miguel Rojas continued his impressive weekend at the plate in a two-hit showing while Kintzler recorded his second save in three games.
Jorge Alfaro took Vince Velazquez deep in the second innings for what a solo homerun. His big fly remained the only one by a Marlins player in the series against the Phillies.
Miami’s ace sealed the deal in Game 4. Sandy Alcantara (W, 1-0) recovered from a run allowed in the first to give up just 2 hits and strike out 5 over five innings of works. Villar racked up another 3 hits, accompanied by 3 runs batted in, while Jesus Aguilar had first flashed on brilliance in Marlins uniform. The former Brewers drew two walks and reached base in all three PA.
The core of the rotation was not as dominant in its first series as it was all season long last year. Nevertheless, it was almost solid and didn’t fall down too hard, which is an indicator of good things to come.
Nationals at Marlins
Unlike in their previous series, this time the rotation was beyond good. Five runs in each game were all it took to guarantee a second series win in the team’s first two of the 2020 season.
Pablo Lopez and Elieser Hernandez each went six innings and beyond in their starts. Lopez allowed 3 hits and a single run for hit first win of the year, while Hernandez surrendered three and struck out nine batters. That indicates the conclusion of the first round of the rotation. Undoubtedly, the biggest sensation seems to be Jordan Yamamoto being out of it. Nonetheless, starting pitching is still is mere control.
So is the bullpen, which posted another pair of scoreless outings. After Kintzler pitched an inning on Monday, Drew Steckenrider was the only option in a save situation the next day. He had no problem, retiring the Nationals in order.
Caleb Smith (W, 1-1), meanwhile, didn’t turn the problems from his first start into permanent issues. Smith hurled a complete-game shutout for a 1-0 win in the third game of the series. He threw 106 pitches and struck out 10. He sealed a win for Miami against Max Scherzer on the mound for Washington.
Villar’s hot start to the season has proven to a real difference-maker at the plate. The former Oriole hit his first homer of the year and brought his RBI total to eight in just 5 games. Brian Anderson also registered his first homerun of the season.
Who’s hot and who’s cold
Jonathan Villar is batting .367 to start the year. In addition, he has a .387 OBP and one of the team’s three homeruns. He has provided incredible consistency out of the leadoff spot, getting on base at an over-league-average pace. He has recorded 11 hits, at least one in every game thus far.
Stats develop credibility with more than just a week. But his consistent ability to reach base was one of the most exciting components for him coming to the Marlins and he’s delivered in a big way.
Corey Dickerson has proved his status as one of the most undervalued players in the majors. He is batting .348 and has a .444 on-base percentage, both top 2 among Marlins with at least 20 at-bats. Jesus Aguilar, Harold Ramirez, and Isan Diaz are also batting over .300, catching fire at the very beginning of the year.
On the mound, the star power has been in the bullpen. With the addition of Kintzler after one of his best years in Chicago, a significant improvement is expected from the relief group. It has been nothing short of sensational so far, allowing just three runs in 17.1 innings. Kintzler and Steckenrider, the leaders of the group, have held opposing teams scoreless and the Marlins have survived three save situations in five games.
Following his complete game against the Nationals, Caleb Smith now has team-best 13.1 innings pitched and an ERA of 2.70 ERA. He also holds a 1-1 record on the mound.
In the Phillies series, the Marlins overused their bullpen. The group pitched 12.2 innings, compared to 14.1 for starting pitchers. That’s a ratio that isn’t preferable for the long-term effectiveness of the bullpen. It has been their only weakness so far, although a week of baseball shows nothing. The Marlins rotation could likely pitch an excellent and durable campaign. The bullpen is just as likely to quiet down. The batting lineup, though, has looked like something that can be sustainable, at least statistically.
The last week has seen some transactions that aren’t very news-worthy. What is, however, is the Marlins releasing reliever and former Rule 5 pick Sterling Sharp.
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