The Miami Marlins dropped a pitcher’s duel to the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 at Marlins Park on Tuesday night to fall to 58-100 on the season. The loss marks just the second 100-loss season in franchise history and the first since 1998 when the then Florida Marlins finished just 54-108 one year after winning the World Series.
Losing 100 games this season seemed inevitable for Miami, but it is encouraging that it took until the week of the season for it to happen. After 54 games, exactly one-third of the season, the Marlins were just 13-41 and on pace to surpass the 1962 New York Mets as the worst team in recent history. Instead, Miami will at worst be only 11 games off last year’s pace. Only that collection of players was expected to contend and had a bloated payroll.
Since May 31st, the play of the young Marlins has been downright encouraging despite a sub-.500 45-59 record since that time. Miami went on to win more games in June this season than in the previous two Junes combined. And as the 2013 season comes to a close, the Marlins and manager Mike Redmond, who was a catcher on the 1998 team that lost 108 games, will head into 2014 with much to feel good about.
Despite injuries early on, Giancarlo Stanton went on to have another solid year in terms of production while having no real protection anywhere in the lineup. Stanton leads Miami with 24 home runs, which ranks in the top 10 in the National League, and 58 RBIs. Miami also has a number of very good young outfielders that will look to join Stanton for a number of years to come including Christian Yelich, who has hit .286 in 59 games this season.
While neither Logan Morrison nor Chris Coghlan had spectacular seasons, each showed signs from time to time of reaching his potential. For a short period of time before another injury, Coghlan looked to be returning to the form offensively that helped him win the Rookie of the Year award in 2009. While Morrison had yet another under-performing, injury-plagued season, his immediate return from the disabled list really helped pick up a struggling offense early on.
While Morrison and Coghlan could find themselves at the corner infield positions next season, the middle of the infield has a pair of promising young players in Adeiny Hechavarria and Donovan Solano. Hechavarria certainly needs to improve with the bat, but defensively is already one of the better fielding shortstops in the National League and is capable of making plays that so few can. Solano is a bit more polished at the plate, but has come a long way defensively as well this season according to coach Perry Hill, who works with the Miami infielders.
The real strength going forward for Miami however is on the mound. While 21-year-old rookie, Jose Fernandez, captivated the league and blossomed into a legitimate ace for Miami finishing with a 12-6 record and a 2.19 ERA, the Marlins have a number of good looking arms behind him. While the win-loss records are not great, Nate Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner all have an ERA under four this season and each is just 23 years old.
In the bullpen, Steve Cishek has had one of the best years ever for a Marlins closer. Cishek had a rough April, but has converted 27 straight saves for Miami and has been lights out of late. Since May 16th, Cishek has posted just a 1.39 ERA and his earned run average on the season is just 2.43. Cishek also has a better than three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Although 2013 has not been a season to remember for the Miami Marlins, there is much to feel good about moving forward. The Marlins have a number of good young outfield prospects, a slew of good young arms and Redmond has seemed to get the most out of his team on a nightly basis. Miami also has one of the brightest young pitchers in all of baseball in Jose Fernandez and one of the premier power-hitters in Giancarlo Stanton. While 2013 has been a year to forget for the Marlins, things are looking up in the not so distant future and Mike Redmond appears to be the right guy to have in the dugout.
As a player, Redmond was on a 100-loss team for the Marlins while also being a member of the 2003 club that won the World Series. It’s not going to happen overnight, but Redmond is certainly hopeful that he can stick around long enough to see it done as a manager as well.