The Miami Marlins have played ten games since returning from their COVID-induced layoff. They have gone 7-3 in those games, somewhat miraculously. This stretch of excellence has been fueled in part by several notable call-ups and signings that occurred as the Marlins were attempting to scrape together a full roster, as I highlighted when they resumed their season.
Here is how things have gone for these men after ten games in “Miami Blue” and “Caliente Red.”
1. Monte Harrison, OF
The main knock against Harrison throughout his minor league career has been his ability, or lack thereof, to consistently put the bat on the ball. He struck out 36.9% of the time across 538 plate appearances in 2018, all while walking just 7.5% of the time. He made significant strides in these areas in 2019, shaving over seven percentage points off his strikeout-rate and walking 10.2% of the time, all while not sacrificing any pop.
Harrison has struggled to acclimate to big league pitching so far, rocking a 2:11 BB:K through 20 PA, with but two singles to his name. He seems to be pressing, trying to hit a grand slam with nobody on base, as they say. The only reason I’m not giving him an F is because he has done well on the base paths and in the field, but at the plate? Completely lost. Monte Harrison is too talented not to adjust eventually, but it is certainly an inauspicious start for him in the batter’s box.
2. Eddy Alvarez, IF
The former Olympic speed skater has picked it up after a slow start. He failed to reach base in his first three games, but has collected five hits and a pair of stolen bases in the four games he has appeared in since then, all while paying good defense in the infield.
He will probably never hit for power at the Major League level, but Alvarez’s hit tool, speed, on-base skills, and defensive versatility will help him stick around in the Show.
3. Jorge Guzman, P
Welp, he threw hard. Velocity is Guzman’s calling card, and he did not disappoint in his lone appearance since being promoted, averaging just over 97 MPH on his heater (he might have even more in the tank, believe it or not). Unfortunately for Guzman, two of those fastballs left the yard across one inning of work.
The long ball has never been an issue for Guzman. He’s given up less than one home run per nine innings in four straight minor league seasons. However, there have been concerns over how well the rest of his arsenal will translate to the highest level of competition. Hitters can zone in on his heat if they don’t respect his off speed, as the Orioles did when they launched two home runs off fastballs. It’s only one appearance; this might be much ado about nothing. But there is a possibility Guzman might need a tiny bit more seasoning before he’s ready for the Major Leagues.
4. Richard Bleier, P
The Marlins trade for Bleier after COVID-19 left over half their roster infected. He has been the out-machine that he’s been in every year of his career except one, allowing one unearned run over three appearances and 1.2 innings. He was placed on the IL after suffering a triceps strain in his pitching arm, unfortunately.
Bleier might be on the shelf right now, but he looks to have put his horrific 2019 behind him so far in 2020. Hopefully, he can make a speedy recovery and continue being an effective left-handed reliever for the Miami Marlins, something they have almost never had. Ever. Seriously.
5. Matt Joyce, OF
Matt Joyce, Professional Hitter. All this man does is give you quality at bats. He’s been doing it for 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, and that has continued in 2020. He can start, he can pinch hit, it doesn’t matter; put a bat in Matthew Joyce’s hands and he’ll make something productive happen. His Twitter handle is @sweetswingin20, appropriately.
Like the aforementioned Alvarez, Joyce took a couple games to get going, but is starting to get his swing back. He’s getting on base like he always has (.350 OBP), and the power stroke will soon return. The 36-year-old Joyce even flashed some leather in the outfield with two nifty plays in the Marlins home opener against the Braves.
The first-place Miami Marlins are 9-4. Most fans were hoping for some intrigue heading into this season, but contention?! Crazy stuff brewing in South Florida. Don Mattingly will certainly have his hands full juggling lineups around as players recover from COVID-19. This team is playing inspiring baseball.