Thu, 05 Oct 2023

Marlins hope to elevate offense against Cubs

Field Level Media
19 Sep 2022, 15:55 GMT+10

Run support is the Miami Marlins' focus.

The Marlins (60-87), who return home to start a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs on Monday night, are out of playoff contention this year, but they have pitching potential going forward.

Edward Cabrera (5-3, 2.70 ERA) is just one of several big arms in Miami's rotation, and he'll get the nod against Chicago to open the series. He has faced the Cubs just once in his brief career, holding them hitless and scoreless through five innings. He struck out eight batters that day in what ended up being a 2-1 Miami loss.

And that is precisely the issue. The Marlins' offense is one of the worst in the majors, as it is tied for 27th in runs scored.

"When we get runs, we're ready to go," Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara said after his 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

Miami's offensive issues began with All-Star second baseman Jazz Chisholm's back injury, which has kept him out of the lineup since June 28.

In addition, first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who drove in 93 runs in 510 plate appearances for Miami last year, was released after driving in just 49 in 456 plate appearances this season.

Miami's Jesus Sanchez, a one-time top prospect acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays at the 2019 trade deadline, regressed this year from last season's promising .808 OPS. Sanchez started this year as Miami's center fielder but was demoted to the minors after posting a .658 OPS through 93 games.

Then there's the two corner outfielders the Marlins spent big on this past offseason, Avisail Garcia (four years, $53 million) and 2021 World Series MVP Jorge Soler (three years, $36 million).

Garcia hit a career-high 29 homers last year but has just seven this season. Soler hit 27 homers last year but has just 13 this season. Both players are on the injured list.

Of Miami's planned starters prior to this season, only two of them -- catcher Jacob Stallings and shortstop Miguel Rojas -- have played a majority of the team's games at their positions. However, both are defensive-minded players, each with an OPS below .611.

Meanwhile, the Cubs (62-84), who are also out of playoff contention, will start lefty Wade Miley (1-0, 2.89) on Monday.

Miley hasn't faced the Marlins this year. But in seven career starts against the Marlins, he is 3-2 with a 1.58 ERA. In four starts in Miami, he is 2-2 with a 1.03 ERA.

A veteran who turns 36 in November, Miley has been limited to just six appearances this year due to two trips to the IL. He pitched three times in May, once in June and twice in September. The last time he took the mound was on Sept. 11, earning a no-decision after allowing one run in five innings against the San Francisco Giants.

Offensively, the Cubs are looking at young utility man Christopher Morel, who is tied for seventh in hits (81), tied for fifth in home runs (13) and tied for seventh in RBIs (38) among National League rookies.

"When we're not winning, I look at the big picture," Cubs manager David Ross said. "(Morel) has shown sparks of greatness at shortstop. He's also been really clean at second base. He has some work to do at third base, and he's played an average center field."

--Field Level Media

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