With the end of MLB's regular season coming next week, Bally Sports will review the performance of each club with a look at what happened in 2021 and what could happen next season. Our next Exit Interview is with the Miami Marlins.
What went right
• Left-hander Trevor Rogers blossomed into an All-Star. Injuries reduced his second-half appearances and his chance to win National League Rookie of the Year, but he's going to be a mainstay in the Marlins rotation for years to come.
• Already with an All-Star Game on his resume, right-hander Sandy Alcántara has taken a big leap forward.
• The Marlins have a lot of strong pitching prospects, but the emergence of Zach Thompson has been an unexpected bonus.
• The defense has been tight, with the Marlins ranking sixth in defensive runs saved going into Thursday’s games. Most of the value has come in the outfield, at first base and pitcher. Magneuris Sierra and Lewin Diaz have been the best individuals — along with Adam Duvall before he was traded.
• They're ninth in the NL in ERA, thanks mostly to the bullpen.
• Jesús Aguilar played an entertaining first base.
What went wrong
• In 43 games since returning from a shoulder injury on July 18, rookie Jazz Chisholm is hitting .234/.272/.399 with six homers and a .277 BABIP. Using the offseason to refresh should help him get back on track.
• Right-hander Pablo López had to be shut down with rotator cuff soreness after making 19 starts. He's had shoulder issues in previous seasons.
• Only the Pirates and Mets have produced less on offense than the Marlins, who don't hit enough home runs or draw enough walks to keep up with the rest of the league. Only the Cubs strike out more. The Marlins are third in the league in stolen bases, but they are next-to-last in getting on base.
• Trading outfielder Starling Marte for Jesús Luzardo was an interesting gamble, but Luzardo's 7.13 ERA in 10 starts for the Fish show it's going to take some work to get him right.
Alcántara has a 3.05 ERA and 189 strikeouts in his first 31 starts.
It was a closer call with Chisholm in the first half, but Rogers is going to finish high on most ballots for NL Rookie of the Year.
Reasons for optimism
• Kim Ng became the first woman and East Asian person to become an MLB general manager. Ng's first big acquisition was first-round pick Khalil Watson, an 18-year-old shortstop who was expected to go to Wake Forest instead. He batted .394/.524/,606 with eight walks in his first nine games of Marlins rookie ball. Watson ranks as a top-30 prospect already and could be on his way to No. 1.
• The Marlins have five top-100 prospects, including Edward Cabrera, who has reached the big-league rotation already. They've been stocking up on prospects since 2018 and have one of the top three or four farm systems in MLB.
What needs work
• Strong second halves for outfielders Jesús Sánchez and Bryan De La Cruz have been encouraging, but the Marlins are not set up with a deep lineup. Their pitching staff is playoff quality, but it's unlikely they will return to the playoffs until they add some thunder to the lineup.
• CEO Derek Jeter has a famous competitive nature. If he gives Ng a bigger free-agent budget this offseason, Miami has a good chance to return to the playoffs.