Marlins Look to Key Players for Big 2nd Half
After having one of the worst months in franchise history, the Marlins are looking to turn their fortunes around. In the beginning of June, the Fish were just 2 games behind Philadelphia for first place. After a 5-23 record in June, they find themselves in last place and 14 games out of first place in the National League East. With teams like the Phillies and Braves in the same division, the Marlins may have fated their season in just one month. But don’t expect this group to roll over quite yet.
The one thing we know about baseball is that the season is long, very long. With just over 70 games remaining after the all star break, the Fish know the time to make their jump is now. Before the mid-summer classic, the Marlins were on a 5 game winning streak, winning 7 of their last 10.
There are several players that will need to play well in order for this to happen for skipper Jack McKeon. Hanley Ramirez is perhaps the most important player in the lineup. His ability to hit for power as well as utilizing his speed on the base paths is essential for this ballclub. Ramirez, a career .300 hitter, was as bad as anyone in baseball for the first couple months. Fighting injuries, as well as off the field issues, Hanley was recognizably frustrated. He is hitting .242 with only 8 homeruns at the break with an OPS of, a career low, .706. Although, he does have multiple three hit games, 3 homers, and 17 RBI’s in July, he will have to continue that pace for the Marlins to be successful.
Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are going to have to have important stretches to end the season. Morrison has 12 homeruns and 42 RBI’s through the first half, but has struggled recently (most notably in June) at the plate, with his average plummeting down to .267. Stanton has shown that he has the strength to put one out of the stadium. He has also showed he can’t hit anything off speed or with any type of movement. His ability (or lack thereof) to adjust is going to be big for the Fish as well. The addition of Mike Cameron, I believe, is to mentor these young outfielders and teach them the importance of a 162 game schedule, as this is first time both will go through an entire season.
Players like Gaby Sanchez, Anibal Sanchez, and the surprising Emilio Bonifacio, hope to continue their first half success. Gaby was the Marlins lone All Star and has had impressive numbers this season (13 HR, 50 RBI, .293 AVG.). When ace Josh Johnson went down in mid May, Anibal took the responsibility of being the go-to guy for the Marlins. At 6-2, he hasn’t gotten a win since June 10 th, but has been pitching with a lack of run support. He looks to turn around a small slump with his last two starts raising his ERA from 2.82 to 3.58.
Bonifacio, has seen his turnaround when Manager Jack McKeon took over the club. The 80 year old skipper has used Emilio’s speed and has given him the green light. It shows, with Bonifacio stealing 10 bases since June 29 th. 12 of his 16 steals this season have come when Trader Jack took over the club.
With a 4 game series beginning against the 37-55 Cubs coming up after the break, the Marlins are ready to make a 2 nd half push. If all of these players start or continue to do their job well, it can happen. But will they?
By: Edwin Howe