If one word can recap the 2016 season for the Miami Marlins, one must look no further than mediocre. Led by the late Jose Fernandez, Miami stumbled to a third place finish in the National League East with a 79-82 record. Marred by a lackluster offense, Miami failed to produce run support for a budding pitching rotation and solid defense.
Entering the offseason with middling expectations, Miami locked down young players Derek Dietrich, Aldeiny Hechavarria, Marcell Ozuna, Tom Koehler, and A.J. Ramos to one-year deals to bolster the lineup, along with the supplementary addition of starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.
Despite opening the season against playoff contenders in rivals Washington and New York, Miami was able to power through the infancy of the season with an unremarkable 3-3 record, taking two of three games against the Mets.
Phil Kimmel of Marlins Manic comments, “We have seen a lot of promise from this ‘middling’ team. While the Fish may lack a big name starter, they have made up for this in other ways.”
Kimmel refers to the sudden power outlet that is Marcell Ozuna, leading the Fish with 5 home runs and 18 Runs Batted In (RBI), preceding slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup. Proving to be a deadly duo, the Marlins have been able to utilize contact specialists in Ichiro Suzuki and Aldeiny Hechavarria.
In the following week, Miami squared off against Atlanta, in which the series was split with each team winning a game apiece. Miami then took on foe New York once again, surprising the Mets by winning three of four games, thoroughly vaulting them to the pole position of the NL East.
Albeit the early nature of the season, the Marlins can already point to bright spots in the lineup. J.T. Riddle blasted a two run walk-off home run on Easter Sunday to improve the record to 7-5, according to hardballtalk.com.
Dayn Perry of CBSSports.com commends Riddle’s home run in stating, “There are unlikely walk-offs, and then there’s a walk-off that’s the first career home run by a player who entered the game as a defensive replacement and who tallied just 20 homers across parts of five minor-league seasons.”
With his youth and athleticism, Riddle can emerge as a reliable starting shortstop in the near future.
The Marlins now head out west, facing the interleague Seattle Mariners in which they have already won and lost a game with Wei-Yin Chen throwing a gem, totaling seven innings pitched with no hits surrendered, according to mlb.com.
Looking to continue their success, Miami will continue to implement a potent offense and consistent starting pitching.