Trio leads Marlins to series win over Nats

Alfaro, Anderson and Hernandez play pivotal roles in finale

August 27th, 2021

MIAMI -- Much like the team as a whole, the 2021 season hasn’t gone according to plan for the trio of , and .

Thirty-four games remain on the schedule, and those three can shift the narrative heading into the offseason. Alfaro and Anderson combined for five RBIs, while Hernandez picked up his first win in Thursday night's 7-5 victory over the Nationals at loanDepot park. Miguel Rojas added a two-run homer, as Miami picked up the series win.

“Elieser, I think get some innings under his belt, continue to stay healthy,” manager Don Mattingly said. “With Andy and Jorgie, you'd like to see those guys go out and play well down the stretch, or see what it looks like and let the organization see what they want to do.”

C Jorge Alfaro

The Marlins acquired catcher Alex Jackson from the Braves at the Trade Deadline, which set in motion Alfaro, 28, appearing in left field (11 times) and first base (twice). Thursday's series finale marked just the second time since Jackson made his club debut that Alfaro has started consecutive games (five overall) behind the dish.

Alfaro hit the walk-off RBI single in Wednesday night's 4-3 win, and he followed that with a three-run shot on Thursday. The Marlins want to capitalize on Alfaro's athleticism by making him more versatile on defense and adding to his value. The results so far seem to back that notion.

Stats since Aug. 3
21-for-70 (.300) with 8 runs, 6 doubles, 1 homer and 14 RBIs in 20 games

“Just moving all around the field, it has freed up the offense,” Mattingly said. “I think that was one of the thoughts, to be able to give him a chance to have some days where he's not having to do all that work. He's more consistent since that move, and hopefully it continues on through this last month.”

3B Brian Anderson

During one of her first Zoom conferences with the media after taking over as general manager, Kim Ng was asked whether the Marlins would sign Anderson to a contract extension as an organizational cornerstone. She responded by saying she would like to see him play in person first.

That was tough during the first half of the season, as Anderson landed on the injured list twice -- first for a left oblique strain in April, and then for a left shoulder subluxation in May. The latter relegated him to the 60-day IL. Thursday marked the fourth time the 28-year-old has driven in at least one run in consecutive games. Anderson credits the return of his timing at the plate, which shows up in his walks and ability to foul off pitches with two strikes.

Stats since return on July 24
23-for-97 (.237) with 10 runs, 3 doubles, 4 homers and 17 RBIs in 28 games

“Obviously, you want to finish up strong, feel good going into next year,” Anderson said. “After losing time like I did, you just want to feel like you're back in the swing of things, and I feel like I'm finally getting in my routine again. I know how much time I need before games. I've got to get my routines in and all that, so it's starting to come back to me little bit by little bit. I'm just trying to get as consistent with it as I can.”

RHP Elieser Hernandez

Hernandez has spent time on the 60-day IL twice this season, making Thursday just his fifth start. Miami hoped Hernandez would be a fixture in the rotation after a strong six-start stretch (3.16 ERA) in 2020 before a right lat strain cut his campaign short.

With several top pitching prospects waiting in the wings, can the Marlins rely on Hernandez moving forward? Could he be better suited for a long-relief role in the future since he is essentially a two-pitch hurler? The 26-year-old made the development of his changeup a focal point during Spring Training, and he recorded one of his four strikeouts on it Thursday.

Stats since return on Aug. 15
3 starts: 15 IP, 15 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 14 K's (3.60 ERA)

“I know this season hasn't been the best one for me being on the field, but it's something that I keep working on -- that pitch, too. Hard work will always give you good results,” Hernandez said via an interpreter.