The rosters are trimming down quickly and Opening Day is fast approaching, so here’s a look at one of the Cincinnati Reds 2016 opponents.
Miami(71-91, 3rd in NL East, 19 GB)
Key Additions:Wei-Yin Chen, Edwin Jackson, Chris Johnson, Dylan Axelrod(minor)
Key Departures:Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Baker, Donovan Solano, Casey McGehee
Reds Dates@Miami July 8-10, Aug. 15-18
There’s a new skipper in town for the Marlins, which is something that has been said a lot in the last ten seasons. Don Mattingly becomes the eighth manager to take the reins of one of the more dysfunctional organizations in baseball. The Marlins have had some big names including current Yankees manager Joe Girardi, current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, Ozzie Guillen, and most recently Mike Redmond and interim Dan Jennings. No manager in franchise history has made it through four full seasons, despite two World Series victories. Jim Leyland resigned after his second season and Jack McKeon, who took over for a fired Jeff Torborg in 2003, resigned in 2005, only to come back and finish the 2011 season after Edwin Rodriguez resigned.
This rough history, plus the Marlins decisions to frequently court high end free agents, only to ship them off midway through the season for prospects has caused some unrest. Injuries have also hurt the Marlins the past few seasons with ace Jose Fernandez missing most of last season and a good chunk of 2014. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton could be one of the most dangerous hitters in all of baseball, but has missed time the past two seasons due to injury. In 2014, Stanton took a pitch off his face, which now leads to him wearing a special face mask while hitting, and in 2015, he fractured his left wrist while swinging, to end his season in mid-June.
With Fernandez returning to the rotation, it surprised some that free agent acquisition Wei-Yin Chen will be the Marlins Opening Day starter. Chen has spent the last four seasons with the Orioles and had pitched in Japan before that. He went 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 31 starts last season. Savvy veteran Edwin Jackson will compete for a rotation spot, but will likely take over as the Marlins long relief man. Jackson replaces Henderson Alvarez as the Marlins’ resident no-hit expert, although Jackson was able to do so despite walking eight Rays in 2010.
The Marlins return Justin Bour as the slugging compliment to Stanton, while Dee Gordon returns as one of the fastest men in baseball. Gordon, unlike the Reds Billy Hamilton, was able to get on base, early and often, as he led the NL in hitting with a .333 average. Gordon also led the MLB in stolen bases with 58, just one ahead of Hamilton’s 57, and also won a Gold Glove at second and was named to his second All-Star Game. Gordon has been the only person to keep Hamilton from winning a stolen base title in the NL as Gordon’s 64 in 2014 bested Hamilton’s 56.
One milestone that may bring fans into the ballpark is the chase for 3,000 hits by Ichiro Suzuki who is just 65 away. The 42-year old will serve as the Marlins fourth outfielder, but his chances to play could be limited if Stanton can stay healthy. Ichiro has spent 15 years in the MLB, but began playing in Japan back in 1992 where he accrued 1,278 hits for the Orix Blue wave before coming to Seattle in 2001. He has an impressive .314 career average since coming stateside.
Here’s a look at what the Marlins might look like when they meet the Reds in Miami just before the All-Star break (as of 3/23).
Starting Rotation (2015 stats):
1. Jose Fernandez (6-1, 2.92 ERA)
2. Wei-Yin Chen (11-8, 3.34 ERA w/Orioles)
3. Tom Koehler (11-14, 4.08 ERA)
4. Adam Conley (4-1, 3.76 ERA)
5. Jarred Cosart (2-5, 4.52 ERA)
In competition: Edwin Jackson, David Phelps
Closer: A.J. Ramos (2-4, 2.30 ERA, 32 saves)
C. J.T. Realmuto (126 games played, .259 avg, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 7 triples)
1B. Justin Bour (129 GP, .262 avg, 23 HR, 73 RBI)
2B. Dee Gordon (145 GP, .333 avg, 4 HR, 46 RBI, 58 SB, Gold Glove, All-Star)
3B. Martin Prado (129 GP, .288 avg, 9 HR, 63 RBI)
SS. Adeiny Hechavarria (130 GP, .281 avg, 5 HR, 48 RBI)
LF. Christian Yelich (126 GP, .300 avg, 7 HR, 44 RBI)
CF. Marcell Ozuna (123 GP, .259 avg, 10 HR, 44 RBI)
RF. Giancarlo Stanton (74 GP, .265 avg, 27 HR, 67 RBI, All-Star)
C. Jeff Mathis, Tomas Telis
1B/3B. Chris Johnson, Derek Dietrich
IF. Miguel Rojas