Relive all of the ups and downs of the 2023 Miami Marlins with our Fish On First Season Review, containing detailed articles about a wide variety of players. The FOF staff analyzes the individual impact that each of them had and what it means for their future with the organization.
This installment focuses on reliever Tanner Scott.
- January 13: Agreed to one-year, $2.825 million contract to avoid salary arbitration
- March 10: Spring training debut
- September 4: Unofficially named Marlins new closer
- September 26-28: Paternity leave; son Bo Alexander Scott born on 9/26 (7 lbs, 13.9 oz)
- September 30: 12th and final save to clinches Marlins postseason berth
- October 4: threw scoreless inning in postseason debut
The name “Tanner Scott” has certainly left an indelible mark in the minds of Marlins fans and others across the baseball world after his success in 2023. The penultimate moment was the final out against the Pirates on September 30 to send the Marlins to their first full-season postseason appearance in 20 years.
But the jubilance of that moment wasn’t a happy accident. Scott put in the work. He continually evolved into the kind of pitching talent the Marlins sorely needed amidst an unexpectedly topsy-turvy season.
The end of the previous season left Scott with a career-best 20 saves and an apparent hunger for more of the same in 2023. In March, he had this to say to MLB’s Christina De Nicola:
“As a reliever, you live for the leverage situations, and I had the opportunity to do it last year, and it’d be great to do it again this year and just keep building off it,” Scott said. “Definitely my first time doing that. There was a lot of ups and downs. You rather have more ups, but if you don’t have any downs, you don’t learn. So that’s the biggest thing I could take away from that.”
The comparison of Scott’s pitching line in the first 81 Marlins games of the season versus the second 81 games can be summed up pretty simply. With an almost identical BF (batters faced) and IP (innings pitched) in each half, every stat improved with the exception of HBP marginally increasing in the second half.
For those of us who still get a kick out of more traditional stats, of note is his ERA moving down from 3.32 to 1.35, his walks going down 50% from the first half to the second half, and the opposing batting average dropping a full 20 points. His K’s stayed consistent across each half and he only gave up 3 HR’s total during the course of the season.
The numbers highlight substantial improvement. The resulting confidence clearly allowed Scott’s performance to blossom even when the pressure and expectations ramped up.
The Marlins still sought bullpen reinforcements as the trade deadline approached. Although they had superb lefties in Scott and Andrew Nardi, manager Skip Schumaker didn’t have trustworthy right-handers to turn to. The acquisition of Mets pitcher David Robertson, veteran major leaguer and one of the few glimmers of hope in Queens through the first half, was supposed to remedy that.
However, Robertson’s presence proved to be a frustration rather than a boon. The logical second-string closer at the time was Tanner Scott. He had a 2.55 ERA when NBC Sports assumed he was the de facto closer for the Marlins in the wake of Robertson’s rocky start with the Fish.
Scott didn’t simply meet the challenge head on: he outpaced most reasonable expectations of success. In a September full of contending teams to face, the Marlins’ flashy confidence, and the drama of back-and-forth NL Wild Card standings, Scott helped blaze a path to the postseason. His personal success was highlighted when MLB recognized Scott’s sensational performance when he was named NL Reliever of the Month for September.
Future with the Marlins
Scott is now entering his final year of arbitration eligibility. There’s no doubt he will be tendered a contract, but pitching for the Marlins in 2024 is not necessarily a given. The general manager responsible for bringing him to Miami in the first place, Kim Ng, has departed the organization. As much as he assisted the club this season, his emergence as an elite player could make him very expensive to extend long term.
Earlier this week, Ely Sussman proposed trading Scott to the New York Yankees in a deal that would bolster the Marlins’ catching and starting rotation depth. Patrick McAvoy at Inside the Pinstripes cites Joel Sherman of the New York Post when he posits that a Yankee offer of Jake Bauers for Tanner Scott might be a wise move for both organizations.
The Marlins front office is currently headed by interim GM Brian Chattin. The decision on Scott’s fate will likely wait until Ng’s true successor has been hired.
There is considerable value to having a closer like Scott who provides stability at the back end of games. If the Fish see themselves as postseason contenders again entering 2024, he’s more than worth retaining.
Photo by Danis Sosa/Fish On First