Marlins driven by 'bottom feeder' label
They started off being called “bottom feeders,” and now the Marlins are here.
After losing 105 games in 2019, Miami on Tuesday will open its best-of-five National League Division Series against the Braves at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Considering the adversity that the club has faced the past few seasons, the 2020 Marlins are using every bit of bulletin board material they can find as motivation. They've continued to wear “Bottom Feeders” T-shirts.
The label was bestowed upon them in the first series of the season in Philadelphia. NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Ricky Bottalico, a former pitcher, said that in order for the Phillies to reach the postseason, they’ll have to beat the “bottom feeders.”
“The dude called us a bottom feeder,” Marlins rookie outfielder Monte Harrison said Monday. “From the first game, we started from the first game of the year, the dude called us a 'bottom feeder.' And he fired up the wrong people. And I’ll tell you that we’re going to run with that. So if you want to talk trash on us, talk trash on us. That’s perfectly fine. The Cubs did the exact same thing.”
The Marlins swept the Cubs in the best-of-three Wild Card Series last week at Wrigley Field.
Still, as an organization, the Marlins are in the process of not only changing their culture, but also their public perception. The Marlins are in the postseason for the first time since 2003, and they enjoyed their first winning season since '09.
“It's been a motivation for us from the very beginning,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “The first game of the season, you don't really do that. You don't really call another team 'bottom feeders' just because you think they're not going to be as good. Or just because they lost a bunch of games last year. We believe in ourselves. We had a lot of confidence in Spring Training.”
Marte uncertain for NLDS
Whether center fielder Starling Marte is on the NLDS roster could go down to the 11 a.m. ET deadline to set the 28-man unit. Marte fractured his fifth left metacarpal after being hit by a pitch in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series.
“He’s still getting treatment,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It probably is going to be a roster decision right up to when we post [the roster]. Right now, he will continue to get treatment and try more and more things. He's able to do more than yesterday. We'll see what he does today. He's the one that has to let us know what he feels like he can do, and then we'll have to make a decision on it, if it's enough to keep him on the roster.”
Harrison, Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra are candidates to play center field, if Marte isn't on the roster.
Cabrera drawing consideration
Another potential roster decision to watch for is if the Marlins add one of their top prospects: hard-throwing right-hander Edward Cabrera.
The 22-year-old is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami’s No. 6 prospect and No. 80 in all of baseball. Of note, Cabrera has not yet pitched in the big leagues. He dealt with a minor arm-related issue in Summer Camp, and he's since been throwing as a member of the taxi squad. Last Friday, Cabrera threw four innings in a simulated game at Wrigley Field.
“He’s a special talent,” Mattingly said. “He’s got a great arm. He’s a guy we think is going to be really, really good, a top-of-the-rotation-type guy. But the fact of the matter is, he hasn’t pitched a whole lot.”
With a fastball that has touched 100 mph, and an above-average changeup and slider, Cabrera projects to be at the top of Miami's long-term rotation along with Sixto Sánchez.
“He is a guy that we will have discussions about,” Mattingly said. “But in the future, moving forward, this kid, we think, is going to be special. He’s another one of those guys.If he stays healthy, he’s going to be really good.”