Views From The Cheap Seats – July 16th, 2017

The Marlins resumed their season this weekend facing the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the hottest teams in the league and unfortunately for them the worst case scenario came to pass. Despite their best efforts the Dodgers swept the Marlins taking all 3 games. In the opening game the Marlins were one pitch away from victory until A.J. Ramos served up a down the middle pitch to Yasiel Puig, who pummeled the ball towards centerfield for a 3-run shot allowing the Dodgers to rally and hold on for the win, 6-4. It was Puig’s second homerun of the game. Talk about squandering opportunities. The Dodgers won game 2, handily spanking the Marlins 7-1 with Cody Bellinger hitting for the cycle to add insult to injury.

The series finale was a hard fought game as rookie arm Chris O’Grady lasted five innings giving up just three runs, however, despite outhitting the Dodgers the Marlins were unable to take advantage of its scoring opportunities coming up just short, falling 3-2. In the bottom of the fourth with Christian Yelich on third, Tyler Moore went down on strikes. Another chance in the fifth presented itself as Giancarlo Stanton took his swings with two outs and runners at first and second only for Stanton to ground out to third to end the inning. The same scene plays out in the eighth this time with Justin Bour striking out to a 4-seamer. Plenty of chances, not enough conversions despite terrific pitching and defense keeping the Marlins in the game. The bullpen was used a lot this series as Dan Straily and O’Grady went 5 innings and José Ureña lasted 3. The Marlins get a chance to make up for lost ground when the Phillies come to town before heading out to Cincy to begin their road trip.

In the shadow of a disappointing performance against the Dodgers, the Marlins have at least a bit of bright news with Miguel Rojas working his way back from injury. It’s widely assumed J.T Riddle will retain his starting job at shortstop though coach Don Mattingly has expressed that he will remain open minded about allowing Rojas to compete with Riddle. With that said, Mattingly is a believer of competitions at positions not held by established and highly productive veterans. A little competition never hurt anybody and it may indeed aid the two players pushing them to continue to strive, erasing any sense of complacency. Keep in mind Rojas is quite the utility player.

Prior to his injury, Rojas seemed on the verge of a breakout season batting .338 and nabbing 4 RBIs in 65 at-bats. The ailment came during a freakish period where Martin Prado and Adeiny Hechavarria also went down several days apart from each other. This sudden wave of injuries cleared the way for Kentucky native J.T. Riddle who has been the real deal for the Marlins. During May 26-28 he hit his third homer, a double and added 3 RBIs. In early June against the Cubs he showed some clutch hitting driving in a pair of runs on a liner midway through the game. Riddle has even displayed skill with his glove making a nice third inning bases-loaded acrobatic catch off of Andrew McCutchen mid-June against the Bucs. Then there was the Cardinals series in early July where he hit a lefty on lefty 2-run single. It was also during this time that he had 4 straight 2-hit games, while the brief streak came to an end Riddle got right back into the swing of things going 2-for-4 again including a 2-run hit against the Giants in the 6-1 series opener, just before the All-Star Break.

While Rojas is undoubtedly playing well in working his way back to the Marlins, there is a case to be made in favor of Riddle. The proof is in the pudding. The Marlins see this as well since they shipped off Hechavarria to the Rays in exchange for two prospects, center fielder Braxton Lee and right-handed pitcher Ethan Clark. Depending on how the trade deadline turns out, there is even the possibility of having Riddle play third base, assuming Prado is traded. He has yet to do so in the majors. There is also the prospect of having Rojas play at second in the event Dee Gordon is traded. Sure he’s batting .255 at the moment and that’s not much to look at but he’s a rookie and the potential is definitely there as previously mentioned. Platoon or no, Riddle should be the front runner here since he has convinced both the Marlins and myself that he is capable of being the everyday starter. Until next time, stay frosty.

Tebow Watch: Remember that anonymous person I would be watching on top of our minor league prospects, yep it’s Timmy. The guy in the last week hit his first triple with the St. Lucie Mets along with his third homer. He’s now batting a fresh .283 with 11 RBIs in 60 at-bats. Not bad!

Stat of the Week: 10. Cody Bellinger became the tenth Dodger to hit for the cycle on Saturday. The Dodger’s first ever cycle was by Oyster Burns, a man with a history as interesting as his name in 1890. At the time they were known as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms.

Views from the Cheap Seats is a biweekly segment where a Miami raised sports nut recaps, screams and analyses a week’s worth of games giving a toast, or the finger, to his hometown team depending on their performance. A truly hopeful but always realistic fan putting thoughts to pen to paper and always striving to improve. Be bold, be good, be you.

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