The 2011 Florida Marlins continue to be one of the top surprises in all of baseball, improving to 30-20 as of May 28th. Pitching wise, this team is carried by solid top 3 in the starting rotation and an excellent bullpen,hi-lighted by closer RH Leo Nunez(0-1,3.24 ERA,18 for 19 in save opportunities). Ace Josh Johnson(3-1,1.64,56 Ks in 60 and third innings over 9 starts) was off to a dominant start but is currently on the DL with an inflamed pitching shoulder. The team has used spot starters in that slot, even throwing reliever Brian Sanchez Saturday May 28th. Offensively, Florida has been middle of the road, ranking between 11 to 17 in 3 of the 4 major hitting categories among the 30 major league teams. However, team discipline has Marlins 7th overall in on base. The team has 6 players with 17 or more walks and two more with 12 and 13. The team offensive MVP has to be underrated 1B Gaby Sanchez, who leads in batting average,rbi,on base and hits.
MEDICAL MURPHY: Super sub Donnie Murphy(right wrist) has not progressed as the team has hoped and Florida moved him to the 60 day DL May 21st to open a roster spot for P Jay Buente, Wrist injuries are tough for hitters and this is not a good sign for Murphy, who appears to be far from a return.
COUSINS COLLISION: In one of the more overanalyzed and replayed incidents of the 2011 season, Florida OF Scott Cousins took out San Francisco Giants star C Buster Posey after a hard collision at the plate Wedneaday May 25th. Posey is more likely out for the remainder of the season with a broken leg and ankle injuries, leaving the Marlins youngster shaken up. ” In my mind, if I changed something, we might not win the game,” He said. “It’s a dangerous sport,and that’s one of the most unfortunate things in baseball. (Home plate contact). A line drive of a pitcher. Outfield collisions. Things that make you cringe when you watch.” Cousins was attempting to contact Posey and both the Giants and Marlins believed the play was clean. Unfortunately, Posey’s leg stuck and we have a major, major season changing injury.
BIG BULLPEN: Great team win(6-1) May 28th at the Dodgers that saw RH RP Brian Sanches start for the first time since 2003. The righty, on a tight pitch count, threw 3 strong innings but not the required 5 for the victory. RH Edward Mujica entered and earned the win, while RHs Burke Badenhop and Steve Cishek and LH Mike Dunn followed out of the pen. Just a great example of how and why this team is successful.
GREAT GREG: Cannot say enough about the contributions 3B Greg Dobbs(.359,2 home runs, 20 rbi) has made to the 2011 Florida Marlins. A career back up, platoon player type who has had great success as a pinch hitter, he has won the starting third base job and is one of the more pleasant surprises in the entire sport.
Marlins ace RH Josh Johnson(3-1,1.64, 9 starts) did not look himself in his last start and today(May 21st) we learned why. Florida placed their prized right hander on the 15 day DL with inflammation in his right shoulder after 3 warning signs within the past week. In his last outing Monday(May 16th) at the Mets, he was 4-5 mph under his customary 95-96 velocity, topping out at around 91. After experiencing some pain during his between starts bullpen session Thursday(May 19th), the team had Johnson undergo an MRI Friday(May 20th) which showed inflammation in his throwing shoulder. The move is retroactive to May 17th and the Marlins hope he can return around June 1st. However, look for the team to be cautious with their ace, who underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2007. Johnson, The NL pitcher of the month for April, has been shutdown and will be re-evaluated by team medical staff Tuesday(May 24th). Florida has recalled rookie starter RH Jay Buente(3-0,1.94 in 10 games including 5 starts) to take Johnson’s roster spot. Obviously, not a good day for the Florida Marlins.
OTHER NEWS: On a day that was bad for the rotation, the bullpen received a much needed lift with the return of top reliever Clay Hensley(0-0,2.77,2 saves and 7 holds in 16 games) from the DL post game May 21st. Florida optioned INF Ozzie Martinez back to Triple A New Orleans when they activated Hensley, leaving the team with 13 pitchers and 12 position players currently. Manager Edwin Rodriquez will monitor the roster “day to day”… Closer RH Leo Nunez(0-1,2.66) earned his 17th save in 17 chances Saturday May 21st. The Marlins closer is having a great, great season and this division(The NL East) features some tremendous closers(Check out the stats on the Mets RH Francisco Rodriquez and Atlanta Braves kid closer RH Craig Kimbrel)
The Florida Marlins remain highly competitive in the tough NL East at 23-16 (Through May 15th) as the team nears the 2011 season’s 40 game mark . The club features a balanced approach with strong pitching, led by ace Josh Johnson(3-1,1.63 ERA) and an improving offense, carried by 2nd year 1B Gaby Sanchez(.331,7 home runs,25 rbi). Success for the remaining 3 quarters of the season is dependent on players such as superstar SS Hanley Ramirez and 2B Omar Infante heating up offensively. 2nd year RF Mike Stanton, who exploded in the 2nd half of 2010, could also help this club with his bat.
AMAZING ANIBAL: RH SP Anibal Sanchez(3-1,2.90 ERA) has been oustanding in May(2-0,1.40 ERA in 3 starts) and he has not allowed a run in 15 innings vs division rival Washington Nationals.
MORE MORRISON: LF Logan Morrison, who started the season fire, looks healthy after returning from a strained left arch in his foot Friday. He was placed on the DL April 21st and homered in his first game back. Morrison extended a 13 game hitting streak going 1 for 4 vs the Nationals May 15th. The 23 year old has hit safely in 16 of the 18 games he has played.
MARLINS NOTES: INF Donnie Murphy(Right wrist) took grounders May 7th and hopes to return by the end of May….. 3B-PH Greg Dobbs is quietly having a strong season(.350,2 home runs, 14 rbi in 80 at bats)
The Florida Marlins have hit an early bump in road, as the lost their season high 3rd game Saturday May 7th. The team has not hit(2 total hits Saturday) to expectations most of the season but the pitching has masked that weakness. However, a key component of that unit is dealing with a medical issue. Florida’s top set up reliever RH Clay Hensley (0-0,2.77, 18 games, 7 holds) was placed on the DL May 7th. One of the premier late inning pitchers in all of baseball, Hensley is reportedly suffering from a bruised shoulder blade from a fall on a stairway. No sugar coating needed here. This is a HUGE loss. Bullpens function best when they have set roles and tendencies. You remove a major piece of that puzzle and things tend to go sideways. Manager Edwin Rodriquez most piece this unit together and nurse what has been an early season strength(and a MAJOR 2010 weakness) to avoid meltdowns. However, Rodriquez has RH Brian Sanchez(3-1,2.30, 12 games), LH Mike Dunn(2-2,1.35, 4 holds) and situational lefty specialist Randy Choate(13 games, 5 and two third innings, 10 Ks, 2 walks, 1.59 ERA) to fill Hensley’s void. And very quietly, closer Leo Nunez(11 saves, 2.70) has been lights out, converting all of his save opportunities.
MARLINS NOTES: RHP Burke Badenhop was recalled to fill Hensley’s roster spot. The 4 year major league veteran is 11-12 with a 4.12 ERA in 102 games(10 starts)… Florida won a franchise record 16 games in April. Very impressive when you factor in injuries plus slow starts by the Franchise player(SS Hanley Ramirez) and sophomore stud(RF Mike Stanton)… LF Logan Morrison(Sprained arch, muscle strain in his left foot) hopes to return sometime next week. He has been on the DL since April 21st but was really coming along pre-injury(.326,4 home runs). Morrison ran the bases with the team Friday(May 6th) and reported no issues. The club hopes to send him on a minor league rehab assignment by this Monday(May 9th).
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