The Marlins' three game sweep of the Padres couldn't have come at a better time. The Fish had lost three devastating games to the Phillies at home and trailed last year's champions by seven games in the standings. Any more losing streaks, and the Marlins' season could have been over. But terrific pitching, timely hitting, and quality defense against the Padres now means the Marlins are back on track with nothing to worry about, right?
Not so fast. Thinking that the Marlins cured all of their ills in San Diego is like going to the doctor and saying, "My left arm hurts when I do this." But the doctor just tells you to stop doing that without thinking that left arm pain is an early warning sign for a heart attack. His rush to judgment could prove fatal. And thinking the Marlins are playoff bound with their current roster is a similarly hasty judgment.
The Marlins' fatal flaw (the flaw that will keep them out of the playoffs) is their underpowered offense. Since the All-Star break, the Fish have not scored more than five runs and have been shut out twice in six games. Even against the last place Padres, the Marlins could only muster run totals of 3, 3, and an outburst of 5 in the three-game set.
And the Marlins weren't facing potential Cy Young winners either. They struggled to score against Stauffer, Gaudin, and Geer who sound more like a law firm than a trio of Major League pitchers. Combined, they are just 5-16 this season.
But the Marlins' starters were terrific in spite of a recent Miami Herald article about how the rotation has been a disappointment this season. True, the starters have been erratic aside from Josh Johnson. Ricky Nolasco is lugging around a 5.77 earned run average, Chris Volstad has surrendered 20 homers already, and only Johnson has a winning record.
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However, the Marlins' inconsistent pitching performances can be attributed to the punchless offense. Pitching with run support is like going to a party with a designated driver. You can drink as much or as little as you want and you don't have to worry about finding a way home. You simply enjoy the party without a care in the world.
Conversely, pitching without run support is like driving to a party and trying to have a good time without drinking. Everyone else is imbibing but you are busy worrying about having one too many before driving home or sleeping on your friend's grimy couch with your car parked on his front lawn. You can't have a good time because you're not relaxed.
Relaxed pitchers are good pitchers. Pitchers who try to be perfect because they know one mistake loses the game end up making multiple mistakes and lose the game. After all, there have only been 15 perfect games since 1900 so pitchers need run support to win consistently.
The Marlins' offensive struggles have appeared on Riptide, but more advanced stats such as a two-out runners in scoring position batting average of .237 prove the team is not scoring enough runs. They need another bat or two, because a similar offensive performance against the first-place Dodgers over the next few games won't get the job done.