After a week and a half without Marlins baseball, the Marlins finally got back on the field last night. However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak within the Marlins organization, the Marlins roster looks completely different from the one that led the fish to a 2-1 record after the opening weekend. When all was said and done, twenty members of the Marlins organization tested positive, eighteen of which were players. In addition, Isan Diaz decided to opt-out of the season due to the risk involved, especially on this team. This led to the Marlins having to frantically sign free agents and call up members from the taxi squad. The good news for Miami fans is that there have been no new positive tests over the past few days. Many new members of this team fans may not realize were acquired by the fish, and may not know about the prospects called up. Below is an updated Marlins roster, with notes on some of the new names that will be playing for the fish until the other members recover from this illness.
As can be seen, the Marlins have been busy over the past couple of days. This is in addition to placing Garrett Cooper, Jose Urena, Jorge Alfaro, and Harold Ramirez on the injured list after the initial round of testing. The area hit the hardest is obviously pitching because they are down three starters and seven relievers.
Jordan Yamamoto is expected to fill a big gap in their rotation and is one of the few names on the new Marlins roster that fans may know of. It came as a bit of a surprise when Jordan Yamamoto was left off the Marlins thirty man roster. Many projected him to fill in as the fifth starter, but that job was given to Elieser Hernandez instead. “Yams” started his major league career with quite a bang. He pitched seven innings of shutout baseball against the Cardinals in his debut, striking out five while only giving up three hits. In his next start, he faced the Cardinals again and somehow one-upped himself, striking out seven this time while only giving up two hits. Yamamoto did struggle a bit the rest of the way. He made 15 total starts last season, going 4-5 while posting a slightly above average 4.46 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio was 82/36 over 78.2 innings of work. The peripherals show he should have been slightly worse, and the high walk rate didn’t help. Yamamoto had a 4.89 xFIP and a 4.71 skill interactive ERA (SIERA). Despite the struggles after starting 4-0 in six career starts, Yams was still worth 0.9 WAR in just 15 starts. He also saved his best for last, striking out ten Mets while throwing six innings of one-hit ball in his final start of the season. Yamamoto has a ton of potential and should be a solid starter for the fish while they wait for the return of their three starters.
Another pitcher expected to fill one of the starting spots is Jorge Guzman. Guzman was one of the pieces in the Giancarlo Stanton trade and will finally get his chance to shine. He is the number seven prospect in the Marlins system according to Baseball Prospectus. Guzman’s win-loss record may not show it, as he went 7-11 last year in AA, but Guzman has been very solid. Despite the record, Guzman pitched to a 3.50 ERA and a 4.37 FIP last year. He also struck out 127 batters in 138.2 innings. Guzman needs to cut down on walks slightly after posting a 12.6% walk rate last year, but that number did go down from high A to AA. Guzman should be a solid fill in and be able to eat innings for the Marlins.
In terms of relievers, the Marlins were able to acquire Richard Bleier and James Hoyt through trades. Both relievers pitched in the Marlins first game back Tuesday night. Bleier pitched a couple of games earlier in the season with the Orioles, and outside of 2019, has been a really good reliever in his career. He posted a 1.96 ERA with the Yankees in 2016, and for the Orioles pitched to a 1.99 ERA in 2017 and a 1.93 ERA in 2018, spanning 111 games total. His issue in his career is that he hasn’t struck out many batters, but has five strikeouts in four innings so far in 2020. Hoyt has bounced around between AAA and the majors since 2016 but has had success in the Indians organization. In 2019, he threw 42 innings in the Indians AAA. Hoyt had a 10.29 strikeout per nine innings rate, which led him to have a 3.43 ERA. After his call up late last season, he gave up just two runs in 8.1 innings, striking out ten in that stretch.
On the offensive side, the Marlins are happy to have Matt Joyce and Lewis Brinson back in their lineup. Both started the season on the injured list with Covid-19. Joyce was one of the big acquisitions in the offseason. For the Braves last year, he hit .295 over 129 games. The Marlins are also hoping that Joyce will provide veteran leadership, a gap that was left empty after Curtis Granderson retired. Meanwhile, Brinson has struggled, but they are hopeful that he will be able to turn things around. He didn’t hit a single home run over 75 games in the big leagues last year, but in his time in AAA in 2019 he hit 16 homers and stole 16 bases. Brinson also hit .270 with a .356 BABIP, so it is clear he has potential.
The Marlins also called up their number six prospect Monte Harrison, which is considered a win by the #FreeMonte campaign. Monte is one of the most exciting prospects for the Marlins, as he provides a strong mix of both power and speed. He played in 56 games last year in AAA, hitting .274 while posting an .808 OPS. In addition, Monte hit nine home runs and stole twenty bases, and the power was on display during summer camp. His big weakness is that he strikes out a bit much, with a 29.9% strikeout rate last year in the minors. This was one reason Don Mattingly mentioned as to why Monte missed the opening day roster.
In addition to Monte, the Marlins also brought up Ryan Lavarnway and Eddy Alvarez, and signed Logan Forsythe to fill in a mostly intact offense. Forsythe was a solid veteran signing, having been in the majors since 2011. In 2019, he played 101 games for the Texas Rangers and hit seven home runs. The average was weak, at .227, but Forsythe will fill at-bats for the Marlins and like Joyce will provide valuable leadership. Lavarnway hasn’t played much in the majors, registering just 17 games over the past three seasons. He did hit two homers over five games last year. However, he is best known for his role in leading Cinderella Team Israel over #3 South Korea and #4 Taiwan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and went 8-18 with a homer and six runs batted in over six games. Like Lavarnway, Alvarez is best known for what he did on the international stage, although not in baseball. Alvarez is a gold medal speed skater. In terms of his baseball numbers, he put up solid numbers in AAA for the Marlins last year. In 66 games, Alvarez hit .323 and posted a .977 OPS. He had a 136 WRC+ and walked 11.1% of the time while only striking out 19.6% of the time. Alvarez had a dozen homers and stolen bases each.
Below is the full current active roster for the Marlins:
Catchers: Francisco Cervelli, Ryan Lavarnway
Infielders: Jesus Aguilar, Jonathan Villar, Logan Forsythe, Eddy Alvarez, Brian Anderson, Jon Berti
Outfielders: Monte Harrison, Matt Joyce, Lewis Brinson, Corey Dickerson, Magnerius Sierra
Pitchers: Elieser Hernandez, Jordan Yamamoto, Pablo Lopez, Jorge Guzman, Daniel Castano, James Hoyt, Brandon Kintzler, Brian Moran, Mike Morin, Justin Shafer, Sterling Sharp, Josh A. Smith, Brad Boxberger, Josh D. Smith, Stephen Tarpley, Nick Vincent, Richard Bleier
Photo Credit: Michael Reaves/ Getty Images