After taking care of business by winning two out of three from the Braves, the Mets continue their opening stretch of 32 games against division foes – holy smokes – with a three-game set against the Marlins. When people think of the worst team in the National League, everyone jumps to the Padres and Reds, because of their poor pitching staffs. Yet the Marlins seem to me as an underrated option to be right there with them as one of the dregs.
Last year, the Marlins finished with a 79-82 mark, which doesn’t seem too bad. But in August they were 60-53 and in the battle for a Wild Card spot before it all went spectacularly wrong. Their 19-29 record to close the season, a 64-win pace over a full year, was bad enough but they also lost one of their top stars with the boating death of Jose Fernandez.
Perhaps as a team they are far enough away from the tragedy for it not to play any kind of meaningful role. For their sake as humans, we should hope this is the case. Yet it seems unlikely to me.
Regardless of how they are faring emotionally, there is still the hole left behind from his on the field production. Last year the Mets were 12-7 against Miami but were 1-3 in games started by Fernandez, their lone victory coming when they scored two runs after Fernandez left the game to earn a 2-1 win, and another loss coming in the emotional game following Fernandez’ passing. In the rest of the matchups, the Mets went 11-3.
On offense, the Marlins have plenty of recognizable names but in a few cases, their production doesn’t match their reputation. Dee Gordon got busted for PEDs and didn’t look remotely like the feared table setter from 2015. Adeiny Hechavarria is a wizard with the glove but perhaps the worst-hitting regular in the majors. Marcell Ozuna got off to a great start then had a .606 OPS over his final 313 PA. Giancarlo Stanton was injured again and when he was able to play, he had the worst season in his seven years in the majors.
The pitching seems okay until you remember that Edinson Volquez is coming off a year with a 5.37 ERA while Wei-Yin Chen had a 4.96 ERA last year. And those are the top pitchers on the staff. The bullpen is better but even there we have a question mark, as A.J. Ramos made the All-Star team based on his first half production yet in his final 24 games he amassed four losses and a 4.13 ERA.
Often times when looking at the worst teams, it’s a squad that gets beat up by its divisional foes. Yes, the Padres are terrible but are the Diamondback going to win 15 games against them? Sure, the Reds have more than their share of issues but do they feel defeated when the square off against the Brewers? The Marlins have to hope to hold their own against the Braves and Phillies. Atlanta feels like a .500-type team to me so perhaps Miami’s best shot will come against Philadelphia.
Still, the Marlins will play 76 games against divisional foes. Where would you put the under/over for them in those games? Do you think they can win 30 games in the division? I would bet the under on that but even if they manage 30, that’s still a .395 winning percentage and make a 100-loss season a possibility.
Last year five teams in the National League lost 90 or more games but none lost as many as 95. But last year was an outlier. In the previous four years, 10 NL clubs lost 95 or more games, with three of those reaching triple-digit defeats.
Are the Marlins a 95-loss team? That seems on the table to me. Hopefully the Mets can do their part to make that happen, starting with this weekend. However, recall my well-documented jinx capabilities. Perhaps this piece makes it guaranteed that the Phillies will be the worst team in the division and the Marlins end up closer to .500 than to 100 losses.