So who did everybody pick to win the National League East this year? The Mets? The Phillies? Don’t forget about those Braves. So, in mid-May which one of these teams has the early lead? Try the Marlins.
Coming into 2008, the Marlins seemed to be made up of has-beens, never-weres, and never-will-bes. It turns out, they’re actually wiley veterans, late bloomers, and pleasant surprises. The big question this early in the season is, of course, are they for real?
The starting rotation is led by Scott Olsen, who at 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA, is finally fulfilling his potential. Mark Hendrickson, owner of a 4.93 career ERA, has been a fine number two, boasting a 5-1 record. Andrew Miller, Ricky Nolasco, and Burke Badenhop (which is now the greatest name in baseball history – though it would be better if he were an infielder) have performed as expected – poorly.
But the bullpen has made up for any shortcomings in the rotation. Four relievers have ERAs under 3.00, including Renyel Pinto, who sports a squeaky-clean 0.73 mark.
At the plate, this team has exhibited power and speed. Hanley Ramirez leads the way. He’s the kind of player Jose Reyes should be right now. Although, maybe now that he’s signed a huge contract, Hanley will become a lazy popup machine like Reyes. Ramirez has thirteen steals and eight home runs. However, he is second on the club in home runs to Mike Jacobs and Dan Uggla. Wait, Mike Jacobs and Dan Uggla? Mets fans know that Jacobs is capable of hitting the ball out of the park, as long as he lays of the high fastballs. And yes, Uggla has talent, but he’s on pace for 41 homers. Really? And Jeremy Hermida is finally becoming the player the Marlins thought he would be from the beginning.
So, back to the original question. Are they for real? Previous track records indicate that Hendrickson, Jacobs, and Uggla can’t keep it up all year, and Kevin Gregg still has to prove that he can be a major league closer two years in a row (anyone remember Mel Rojas? I didn’t think so).
It’s a nice start, and they’ll probably finish third or fourth at worst, but the Marlins don’t have enough depth in their starting rotation or their lineup to stay in first all year. The Mets, Phils, and Braves better hope so.