Despite an above-average rotation that benefited immensely from eventual NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara, the Marlins posted a disappointing 69-93 record in 2022. Aside from a 31-29 finish and a playoff berth in the shortened 2020 season, they haven’t finished above .500 since 2009, and have five sub-70-win seasons since then. Last year, ti was the offense that did them in — a terrible 3.62 runs per game, the third-worst mark in the league, that doesn’t get much better when you scale for the fact that they play in an offense-suppressing park (sixth-worst by wRC+).
The Marlins made some moves to try to focus more on scoring runs rather than preventing them this offseason, but it’s not clear whether this has really achieved anything in terms of the big picture. It’s a mediocre and underfunded roster in a tough division, and there are multiple places where the team’s approach seems to be tacit acceptance of another poor year rather than anything else.
Expectations for 2023
The overall consensus, as things currently stand, is the Marlins will improve in the win column this year. They are projected to finish the season with around 75-81 wins. In some divisions, that could be enough to seem vaguely competitive, but the Marlins are projected to finish six or more games behind the third-place team in the NL East.
As you can see from the sidebar, the Marlins churned their roster quite a bit this offseason, and added some position players in some places... but they didn’t really do much overall other than swap out some roster pieces they no longer wanted for some others.
Via Roster Resource:
- Jazz Chisholm Jr. CF
- Jorge Soler DH
- Luis Arraez 2B
- Garrett Cooper 1B
- Avisail Garcia RF
- Jean Segura 3B
- Joey Wendle SS
- Jacob Stallings C
- Jesus Sanchez LF
Nick Fortes C/1B
Yuli Gurriel 1B
Jose Iglesias INF
Jon Berti UTL
- Sandy Alcantara RHP
- Jesus Luzardo LHP
- Johnny Cueto RHP
- Trevor Rogers LHP
- Edward Cabrera RHP
Dylan Floro RHP
Tanner Scott LHP
Matt Barnes RHP
A.J. Puk LHP
J.T. Chargois RHP
Steven Okert LHP
Tommy Nance RHP
Huascar Brazoban RHP
The easy answer for this in years past was always the team’s starting rotation. It’s really tempting to say that it’s the rotation again. After all, Sandy Alcantara was one of the best pitchers in baseball last year. Edward Cabrera had some dominant stretches in 2022. Jesus Luzardo was close to elite across his 18 starts. Trevor Rogers is only a year removed from a fantastic season. The Marlins also have some nice depth in the form of Braxton Garrett, uber-prospect Eury Perez, and possibly Sixto Sanchez, if he’s able to return from shoulder injury.
So, what’s the problem? Well, when it comes down to it, it’s just not that great a unit, especially with Pablo Lopez gone. Alcantara is great, but Johnny Cueto looks like he’s going to eat a ton of innings without pitching particularly well — he has a 98 ERA-, 98 FIP-, and 107 xFIP- since the start of the 2020 season. Luzardo and Rogers are high-quality but are hard to count on for much more than 100 innings apiece. Cabrera’s overall performance has been fine, even if he’s looked elite at times. When you look around the league, having one elite starter, two good-but-not-exactly-durable ones, a wild card, and a below-average innings eater just doesn’t seem that exciting.
More exciting, though: Luis Arraez at second base or wherever he ends up, and Jazz Chisholm Jr. in center field, or wherever he ends up if Arraez ends up getting moved off of the keystone. Both of these guys project to be impact bats and, if all goes well, could give the Marlins a lot of the offensive oomph they’ve been lacking.
In the Johnny Cueto vein, the Marlins have an issue in right field, where Avisail Garcia projects to get most of the playing time despite -0.6 fWAR last year and a career 1.5 fWAR/600 PAs mark. On the flip side, Garcia has literally alternated near-unplayable seasons (even years) with good ones (odd years) — setting 2020 aside, where he was just meh — and 2023 is an odd year. It feels like the Marlins could get more mileage out of the position by just letting Jesus Sanchez play more, but it’s unclear whether they’ll take that route.
Beyond Garcia’s presence, there are soft spots at first base, shortstop, and left field. The bullpen doesn’t seem particularly handy, either. With better complementary pieces around Arraez, Chisholm, and the rotation, this team could probably aspire to make some noise, but that’s not the 2023 Marlins, at least not on paper.
Top prospects Eury Perez and Jake Eder both hit Double-A last year and did pretty well — an aggressive promotion for either could be in the cards and give the pitching staff more heft, especially if the non-Alcantara arms take a step back, or if the Marlins just get sick of Cueto gobbling up frames.
Former first round pick Max Meyer was slated to have a big role on the pitching staff, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in August of last year which all but rules him out for the 2023 season.
Jordan Groshans will probably be ready to contribute in 2023 after getting a handful of MLB PAs last year, but he’s not exactly a can’t-miss prospect and will likely require something to happen with the infield (e.g., Arraez moving off second, prompting Jean Segura moving off third) to really get a clear path to playing time.
History/Outlook Against the Braves
The Marlins went 6-13 against the Braves last season. You have to go all the way back to 2014 to find a year when the Marlins won the season series against the Braves, and even then, it was just 10-9. In their entire history, the Marlins have won the season series against the Braves just six times, going 201-299 (.402) against them in the process. Since the start of the 2018 season, it’s been an even worse 27-59 (.314).
This year, the Marlins and Braves will see each other in relatively spread out fashion. In late April/early May, the Braves will have a stretch where they play seven of 11 games against the Fish, including a four-game weekday set in Atlanta from April 24-27, and then a weekday series in Miami May 2-4. The next meeting will be a weekend set in Atlanta from June 30-July 2. Lastly, the Braves will visit Miami in the middle of September for a September 15-17 weekend series.