Don’t Get Me Started

Ordinary starting pitchers have recently enjoyed excellent results against the struggling Marlins lineup.

It’s no secret that the Marlins offense has been fledgling over the past three weeks. They have scored 64 runs since being shut out 6-0 against the Texas Rangers on August 6, which is tied for the fewest in the majors in that span.

Out of those 3.55 total runs per game, most of them are coming against relievers. Opposing starting pitchers—excluding openers for bullpen games and Los Angeles starter Tony Gonsolin, who was later found to be pitching with a forearm injury after allowing 10 runs against Miami—have only allowed 22 earned runs against the Marlins in the past 14 games. That’s a 2.30 ERA, a mark that would make a Cy Young candidate blush.

Marlins manager Skip Schumaker acknowledged after Friday’s 7-4 loss to the Washington Nationals that it’s an issue they are painfully aware of.

“It’s not for lack of urgency,” Schumaker said. “It’s not for lack of game-planning. We have to execute and we’re just not executing right now.”

Throughout the season, the splits have been glaring in how the Marlins perform in the first third of the game compared to the final third. In innings one through three, Miami is hitting .250 with a .693 OPS, which is 14 percent below league average in that split. In innings seven through nine, their average goes up to .273 while their OPS is .752, eleven percent higher than league average. Those numbers are even more staggering in the second half of the season, leading to their 12-26 skid since the break.

“That’s part of the game is we have to execute the game plan,” Schumaker said.  “All that stuff is ready for us. The preparation is there. Now we just have to execute out on the field. And we were really good getting to the relievers it feels like. But lately, attacking that starter and getting to the starter has been hurting us in the second half.”

The Marlins have had two very exciting comeback victories during this span—one against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 9 in which Josh Bell hit a game-tying three-run home run in the eighth inning, and another against the New York Yankees on Aug. 13 in which Miami scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 8-7. In both those games, the Marlins did virtually nothing against starting pitching. Graham Ashcraft allowed one run in the first seven innings for the Reds, while Yankees starter Gerrit Cole allowed two runs in six innings.

In Friday’s series opener against the Nationals, the Marlins were shut out through six innings by Joan Adon, who came into the game with a 7.00 ERA. They didn’t even record a hit until the sixth.

After Washington reliever Mason Thompson entered the game in the seventh, the Marlins put up four runs in the frame, but still fell short and lost 7-4.

While exciting, Schumaker said those comeback wins were a product of not getting to the starter.

“So as great as that is to get four in the bottom of the seventh, we have to get to the starter,” Schumaker said. “So that’s going to be the mission. Not that we haven’t been trying before, don’t get me wrong. But that’s kind of the mission going forward: how do we attack that starter, score first, and hold the lead?”

Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

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