Running a team with a low payroll has not been an impediment for some organizations to develop starting pitching. Much attention has been given to the Rays, Guardians, and Brewers for their ability to churn out starting pitchers, but less attention has been given to the Marlins and what they’ve been able to do.
The Marlins traded away one of their best starters last off-season - Pablo Lopez - and lost starters Trevor Rogers and Johnny Cueto to injury - and yet they still have the kind of depth the Royals would envy. They have the reigning Cy Young winner in Sandy Alcantara, plus three effective 25-year old arms in Braxton Garrett, Edward Cabrera, and Jesus Luzardo. They recently called up Eury Perez - one of the top pitching prospects in baseball - and he has been brilliant from the start with a 2.25 ERA in five starts. Apparently not all pitchers need to figure things out for a few years.
The result is that despite fielding a player payroll nearly identical to the Royals, the Marlins have the sixth-best record in the National League, and are just 3.5 games out of first place.
Kansas City Royals (18-41) vs. Miami Marlins (32-28) from loanDepot Park, Miami, FL
Royals: 3.88 runs scored/game (26th in MLB), 5.15 runs allowed/game (27th)
Marlins: 3.88 runs scored/game (27th), 4.50 runs allowed/game (17th)
The hitting has definitely been a weak spot for the Marlins, although they have been on a tear lately, hitting .303 with 5.6 runs-per-game over their last 11 games. Luis Arraez - acquired for Lopez - has been sensational, becoming the first player since Joe Mauer in 2009 to hit .390 or better over the first 55 games of the season. Former Royals slugger Jorge Soler is third in the National League with 17 home runs and eighth in slugging percentage. But the bottom of the order has been very weak, with Jean Segura off to an awful start after signing a two-year, $17 million deal.
The Marlins have the fifth-lowest walk rate in baseball and have hit the sixth-fewest home runs. They are the worst baserunning team, according to Baserunning Runs, and their biggest basestealing threat - Jazz Chisholm Jr. - is out with injury this series. The older veterans - Segura, Soler, and first baseman Yuli Gurriel - have been bad defensively, but the rest of team can play good to great defense.
Marlins starting lineup and bench
|2B Luis Arraez (L)||227||1||1||.392||.445||.485||1.8|
|DH Jorge Soler (R)||242||17||0||.245||.326||.532||1.0|
|RF Bryan de la Cruz (R)||224||7||3||.299||.348||.451||0.7|
|LF Jesús Sánchez (L)||97||4||3||.302||.381||.547||0.9|
|1B Yuli Gurriel (R)||157||3||3||.291||.350||.440||0.6|
|3B Jean Segura (R)||195||0||5||.191||.258||.219||-1.1|
|C Nick Fortes||125||3||3||.241||.396||.328||0.6|
|SS Joey Wendle (L)||74||0||1||.219||.306||.359||0.3|
|CF Jonathan Davis (R)||39||1||1||.303||.395||.515||0.4|
|C Jacob Stallings (R)||99||0||0||.161||.227||.218||-0.7|
|1B Garrett Cooper (R)||162||6||0||.242||.278||.412||0.0|
|IF Jon Berti (R)||182||2||7||.267||.317||.333||0.7|
|OF Garrett Hampson (R)||121||1||3||.239||.303||.349||0.0|
The Royals won’t have to face Alcantara or Perez this series, but the Marlins still have some effective arms to throw at them. Braxton Garrett was the seventh overall pick in 2016 and has been a solid mid-rotation starter who can throw strikes, miss some bats, and generate a groundball rate near 50 percent. He’s sixth among starters in throwing strikes.
Jesús Luzardo was acquired from the A’s in 2021 for Starling Marte, and has begun to reach his potential with the Marlins, with a 3.61 ERA and 3.35 FIP with 10.7 strikeouts-per-nine-innings over 30 starts the last two seasons combined. Luzardo one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in baseball and flashes a fastball that sits 96-97 mph with a slider and change up.
Edward Cabrera is fifth in the league in strikeout rate among pitchers with at least 50 innings, but also has the fourth-highest walk rate. Only four starting pitchers throw a change up more than Cabrera and he has the eighth-highest groundball rate.
Expected pitching matchups
|Monday, June 5 - 5:40 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|Monday, June 5 - 5:40 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Carlos Hernandez||4.76||2.83||28.1||12.1||2.5||0.5|
|LHP Braxton Garrett||4.22||4.00||53.1||9.1||2.0||0.7|
|Tuesday, June 6 - 5:40 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Zack Greinke||4.19||4.34||62.1||6.8||1.3||0.7|
|LHP Jesus Luzardo||4.05||3.69||66.2||10.5||2.7||1.2|
|Wednesday, June 7 - 5:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Jordan Lyles||6.89||6.13||66.2||7.2||3.2||-0.3|
|RHP Edward Cabrera||4.50||4.20||58.0||11.8||5.6||0.8|
Marlins relievers have a 4.10 ERA collectively and are middle of the pack in most categories. Dylan Floro has gotten save opportunities with A.J. Puk out, and Floro has responded with six saves, although he blew up for five runs allowed without recording an out last Tuesday. Steven Okert has the third-highest strikeout rate of any lefty reliever.
|RHP Dylan Floro||4.32||3.40||25.0||9.0||2.9||0.4|
|LHP Tanner Scott||3.21||3.14||28.0||12.5||4.8||0.5|
|RHP Huascar Brazoban||3.60||3.02||30.0||9.9||3.9||0.6|
|LHP Steven Okert||1.96||2.85||18.1||14.2||3.9||0.4|
|RHP JT Chargois||2.45||2.74||11.0||7.4||3.3||0.2|
|LHP Andrew Nardi||2.81||4.22||25.2||10.2||3.2||0.1|
|RHP George Soriano||2.70||3.58||10.0||5.4||3.6||0.1|
|RHP Bryan Hoenig||3.27||3.69||22.0||7.0||3.7||0.2|
The Marlins are 4-2 on their current homestand, and are fresh off a sweep of the bottom-feeding Oakland Athletics. They’re 18-13 at home this year, although they have a run differential at loandepot Park of -23. They have some good starting pitching, but if their offense struggles, the Royals could steal a win or two.
How will the Royals fare this series against the Marlins?
This poll is closed
Royals sweep 3-0
Royals take 2 of 3
Marlins take 2 of 3