This gets said a lot but I’m saying it again: It’s not easy being a Miami Marlins fan. They’ve endured real loss, horrible owners, and the exodus of nearly every young and exciting player. It’s not easy finding a Marlins fan either. On episode 1,148 of the great Effectively Wild podcast, hosts Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan interviewed a Marlins fan shortly after Giancarlo Stanton was dealt to the Yankees and it was as if they had found an exotic endangered species in the wild and were studying it.

Also, I’ve never been there, but from what I understand just trying to get to Marlins Park is a horrible experience. And this is the same park that was constructed on the support beams of sham politics with the end result being nothing short of downright thievery of the public. On May 25 and 26 of this year, a Friday and a Saturday, no less, the Marlins’ reported attendance for two home games against the Nationals combined to be fewer than 20,000. What I find shocking is the almost 20,000 people who did show up under the current conditions. These, my friends, are the best and most loyal fans in baseball and they deserve our empathy.

On the other hand…

Here is the list of teams who have won more World Series titles than the Marlins since their inception in 1993:

  1. Giants (3)
  2. Red Sox (3)
  3. Yankees (5)

Here is the list of teams who have won fewer World Series titles than the Marlins during this same time span:

  1. Angels (1)
  2. Astros (1)
  3. Athletics (0)
  4. Blue Jays (0)
  5. Braves (1)
  6. Brewers (0)
  7. Cubs (0*)
  8. Diamondbacks (1)
  9. Dodgers (0)
  10. Indians (0)
  11. Mariners (0)
  12. Mets (0)
  13. Nationals (0)
  14. Orioles (0)
  15. Padres (0)
  16. Phillies (1)
  17. Pirates (0)
  18. Rangers (0)
  19. Rays (0)
  20. Reds (0)
  21. Rockies (0)
  22. Royals (1)
  23. Tigers (0)
  24. Twins (0)
  25. White Sox (1)

Here is the list of teams who have never lost a postseason series:

  1. Marlins

This franchise is the black sheep boy of Major League Baseball but ask a fan from Cleveland if they feel all that bad for them. And ignoring for a second what I wrote above on how gross the process was that gave way to Marlins Park, and the unpleasantness of trying to get there…I think it’s a great looking place. On tv, at least. It fits Miami well. I think the home run sculpture is cool. I think the Bobblehead Museum is great (even if Jeff Loria took 900 of them and went home).

So if you meet a Marlins fan, be good to them. They’ve had it really bad. Although it’s also been sort of good. What a weird franchise.

***********

Only one team wasn’t listed above and that’s our St. Louis Cardinals, who are coming off a wild four-game series with the Pirates which included two walk-off home runs and a near no-hitter. They welcome these dilapidated Marlins starting tonight for a three-game set at Busch. Here, courtesy of FanGraphs, are the pitching matchups and the Cardinals’ win probability.

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 9.54.58 PM

José Ureña is currently 0-7 but that, of course, is pretty meaningless and misleading. All things considered, he’s been okay for the Marlins this season (4.41 ERA/3.98 FIP) partly by inducing a lot of ground balls, although while allowing a fair share of home runs, too. Wei-Yin Chen has the fifth worst ERA (6.1) in the NL for pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched, the second worst FIP (6.56), and he has allowed the most home runs per nine innings. Rookie Elieser Hernández hasn’t been a whole lot better than Chen.

As for their offense, it is bad. Their team wRC+ of 79 is last in the NL. Outfielder Lewis Brinson has 211 plate appearances on the year with a wRC+ of 33. That is awful; dead last for players with at least 200 plate appearances. (Ian Desmond comes next with a 58 wRC+.) You know, just in case you were feeling down about Dexter Fowler. I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that while staring at the Marlins’ WAR leaderboard for position players, I was met with several names I had never heard of before.

All of this has added up to the Marlins having the worst record in the NL and virtually no chance of playing baseball past game 162. Just as projected.

The Cardinals, as you probably know, have had fantastic starting pitching – the second best ERA (2.94) in the NL to the Nationals. And the big story is Carlos Martínez returning from a lat injury that sidelined him or about a month. (Please read Jason Bradshaw’s detailed account of Martínez’s recent comeback start for Springfield.)  Hopefully it will be like he never left, because Martínez is returning with a sub-2.00 ERA. I don’t want to think about the alternative because I’m a bit down on lats right now.

The Cardinals’ bullpen hasn’t been great, as we all know, and neither has the offense. However, former Marlin Marcell Ozuna has (maybe) woken up (233 wRC+ since May 21), and Matt Carpenter has looked like Matt Carpenter again for a while now, so ideally this won’t be a series in which a huge burden will be put on the pen.

These are games the Cardinals should win, need to win. They took care of Pittsburgh, and they have nine games with these Marlins, Reds, and Padres before a 23 game-stretch against decent-to-very-good teams (Cubs, Phillies, Brewers, Indians, Braves, Diamondbacks, Giants), all of whom sit at or above .500 on this date. Only taking five of the next nine wouldn’t be bad per se, but still a little disappointing considering what’s on the horizon.

Bottom line, the Marlins quite publicly aren’t trying to win in 2018. The Cardinals are. No need to complicate matters. The Cardinals should sweep the Marlins. Their fans will survive – they’ve already been through so much worse.

 

*Can I help you?

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