Although it has only been a month, the New York Mets have no doubt observed a few trends in their division. They have gotten off to a hot start despite being without Jacob deGrom, which gives credence to the theory that they could win the National League East this year.
However, there has been another more surprising National League East trend that the team should be paying attention to. That trend is that the Miami Marlins, a team still considered to be in its rebuilding phase, is looking more competitive than what most expected.
It has been a long time since the Miami Marlins were a competitive ballclub. Apart from the fluke 2020 Covid-shortened season, the Marlins have only made the postseason twice (1997 and 2003). Although they won the World Series in both of those full seasons, the Marlins have never been a team consistently winning baseball games.
The Mets should be wary of the Miami Marlins, who are off to a solid start and has a pitching staff that can keep them in the wild card race.
This year is different though. The Marlins, entering the month of May, are in second place in the National League East. They are currently performing like an average offensive team with an above-average pitching staff. They are 12th in the league in OPS, 15th in batting average, and 8th in ERA. Although the Mets are currently beating the Marlins statistically in the major hitting and pitching categories, there are a few reasons why they should still regard them as a threat to make noise in the division.
First, there’s the improved starting pitching. Two of the Marlins top pitchers, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez, are both displaying their ace potential this season, getting off to hot starts early in the season. Alcantara has compiled a 2.90 ERA over five starts and 31 innings pitched. Lopez, meanwhile, has performed even better, compiling a 1.60 ERA over five starts and 28 innings pitched. He has also struck out 30 batters, averaging a little over a strikeout an inning. The duo offer a glimpse at what the future of Marlins pitching is, and not many teams have a better duo atop the rotation than the Marlins.
Second, the Marlins have a better hitting team than they are being given credit for. It all starts with Jazz Chisholm Jr., the young, athletic 24-year-old middle infielder for the Marlins who is arguably the team’s best hitter. He leads the Marlins with 17 RBI, leads the major leagues in triples, and is a plus defender in the infield. With his quirky and energetic personality, Chisholm Jr. breathes life into a Marlins team that is in desperate need of positive energy. Along with Chisholm Jr, the Marlins have a plethora of young hitters who are coming into their own, including Brian Anderson and Jon Berti.
Over the past offseason, the Marlins also acted aggressively, bringing in veteran hitters such as Jorge Soler, Joey Wendle, and Jacob Stallings to fortify the young core the Marlins have. These are not moves that a rebuilding club makes.
Thankfully, the Mets have the edge now, as they are second in batting average and runs scored and sixth in ERA. However, there is a lot of baseball yet to be played, and the baseball season has always been a marathon, not a sprint. The Mets should keep an eye on the Marlins though. With a solid young rotation in place, budding young stars like Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Brian Anderson, and veteran hitters like Jesus Aguilar, Jorge Soler, Joey Wendle, and Jacob Stallings, the Marlins are not built like a typical rebuilding club.
If the results in April are any indication, the Marlins are a team that could potentially hang in the wild card race this year. They certainly won’t be an afterthought this year, and that makes the National League East even more competitive.