Opening Day: Miami Marlins 2024 Preview

Opening Day Miami Marlins

Miami, Florida – We’re less than 24 hours away from Opening Day kicking off the Miami Marlins 2024 season, which warrants a new preview. The Fighting Fish hopes to build off a previously successful campaign. In 2023, Miami finished six games above .500 at 84-78 clinching a spot in the playoffs. However, there’s a lot of uncertainty and downright pessimism about the prospect of repeating the feat. The Marlins are limping into the year in terms of their starting pitching complemented by a quiet offseason.

While other teams got better, the organization remained static. The newly installed general manager Peter Bendix opted to improve the front office and scouting infrastructure. Spring training did little to assuage fans’ concerns especially when injuries began to appear. In light of recent events, my cautious optimism has changed. Although it’s not to the point where the team will lose 100 games, the fans will need a lot of last season’s magic to believe in this club. Hey, it’s baseball anything can happen. Without further ado!

Offseason

For those who need a refresher, you barely missed anything. The acquisition of Tim Anderson was up until today the only meaningful move the Marlins made. The two-time all-star led the majors with a .335 average in 2019 and is coming off a down year dealing with injury. This move came in late February, by the way. The Jon Berti trade is the other notable transaction.

Area of least concern: Hitting

I never thought I’d list this aspect but here we are. During spring training the Marlins were one of the weakest ballclubs at offense. They scored the least amount of runs at one point averaging less than three runs a game. Of course, statistics don’t mean much in these exhibition games, yet they’re concerning nonetheless. To be fair, the rest of the NL East fared little better. Luis Arraez is a good example of why the bats don’t worry me as much as other areas. He was in a 1-for-16 slump only to go on a tear upping his batting average to .386 rapidly shaking off the rust and positioning himself once more among the most productive.

Miami retained Josh Bell and Jake Burger, key players to last year’s push to the postseason. The lineup is further bolstered by Jazz Chisholm Jr., who will surpass his previous numbers if he stays healthy. Former batting champion Tim Anderson is a new face to the roster. Miami hopes to channel the motivation to bounce back to their favor. The Marlins will be without Jon Berti. The utility player was traded the day before the start of the season to the New York Yankees as part of a three-team trade. The Fish got two prospects in exchange, John Cruz (New York’s #28 prospect) and Shane Sasaki from Tampa Bay. The move can open the way for either the versatile Jonah Bride or Xavier Edwards. In sum, the hitting has a blend of power, speed, and contact to push across runs. The question is outside of Arraez, will we see last year’s production out of Bell, Burger, and the other guys?

Area of most concern: starting pitching

Losing Sandy Alcantara was bad enough. In the span of a few days, the Fish lost both Eury Pérez and Edward Cabrera during spring training. The good news is neither ailment is season-ending, however, each will miss time. Braxton Garrett, meanwhile, is on the road to recovery. So where does this leave the starters? Jesús Luzardo will be the Opening Day starter and the team’s ace. AJ Puk is given the number two slot in the rotation after transitioning from the bullpen. Elsewhere, injury has opened the door for Ryan Weathers who had a solid spring earning him the third spot. Trevor Rogers comes next with the hope of a healthier 2024 and Max Meyer rounds out the group soon to be making his first career start after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2022.

There’s only one right-handed pitcher in this rotation. Everyone after Luzardo is a big question mark. Once seen potentially among the best rotations in the league, the Fish’s arms have their work cut out for them. The bullpen could be in for a big workload. Speaking of…

The bullpen: can go either way

This can either be an effective unit or a disastrous one. Tanner Scott will likely get the first crack at closing duties. Anthony Bender returns after missing all of 2023 due to Tommy John surgery. Bender had a bad start to spring but significantly improved after. JT Chargois is among the injured with a projection of returning in May. Bryan Hoeing made the opening day roster joining Andrew Nardi, George Soriano, Sixto Sanchez, Declan Cronin, and Burch Smith who nabbed the last spot courtesy of the Berti trade.

These arms will no doubt be tested and if the rotation struggle could find itself chewing up a lot of innings. With that said, I want to see how they do in very close one-run games. It made a huge difference for the Marlins last year going 33-14 in those scenarios and 7-3 in extras.

Players to watch

Puk has never been a starter before and I will be observing how opposing hitters do when they face him a second and even a third time at the plate. Chisholm’s performance will likely be tied to his health status. If we get a full season of him, we’ll see some very good numbers. Avisaíl García has to be on a short leash. Unfortunately, my prediction is the organization will cut ties with him by mid-May ending his tenure with the Fish.

Prediction

The Miami Marlins will miss the playoffs. Their top-division rivals remain superior and the injury bug will likely have a negative effect the first month or so of the season culminating in a 75-87 finish.

2024 Firsts

HR: Jake Burger
Double: Luis Arraez
Triple: Jazz Chisholm
Homerun, RBI and run scored: Tim Anderson
Walk: Jazz Chisholm
Hit-by-pitch: Nick Fortes
Hits into a double play: Avisail Garcia
Bunt: Nick Fortes
Pitch clock violation: Max Meyer
Batter clock violation:  Avisail Garcia
Complete Game: Jesus Luzardo
Save: Tanner Scott
Error: Jake Burger

(Visited 32 times, 1 visits today)