PITTSBURGH -- During the Marlins’ last road trip, they bought into the “staying afloat” mantra with the promise of imminent reinforcements. On May 27 in the ensuing homestand finale, Miami did that and more with the chance to reach .500 -- only to lose the left side of its infield in Brian Anderson and Miguel Rojas to injuries.
Since then, the Marlins (24-32) have dropped seven in a row for the first time in 25 months, falling to last in the National League East standings in the process. The club is literally and figuratively limping toward the end of its third consecutive three-city road trip.
“It seems like a few days ago we were a game out of the Mets and had a shot to get back to .500,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Lost that last game at home, and this trip has been a nightmare for us. It happened with the injuries, but it's also happened with losses. So ‘stay afloat’ was kind of last trip, and another storm hit us. At this point we haven't weathered it. We've just got to know that there's sun out there. Keep fighting for it, and keep looking for it, and keep believing that it's there.”
A little more than 24 hours after fielding a five-man rotation for the first time in 2021, the Marlins find themselves back where they started four days into the season. In Friday night’s 9-2 defeat to the Pirates at PNC Park, right-hander Cody Poteet left with a right MCL sprain, marking the second straight game Miami has lost a starting pitcher to an injury. Mattingly expects Poteet to go on the IL.
Following a replay review of Gregory Polanco's stolen-base attempt in the third inning, Mattingly and head athletic trainer Gene Basham visited the mound to check on Poteet. He threw one warmup pitch and pointed at his right leg before handing the ball over.
“He basically said that when he went to throw a warmup pitch [after the review] his cleat got caught and he felt it stretch, and obviously he grimaced when he did that,” Mattingly said. “That's when [catcher Sandy León] called us out, he'd seen it. [Cody] told us kind of what happened, tried to throw another one and wanted to try to keep going. He's like, ‘It hurt, but I'm OK.’ I kind of made that decision pretty easy at that moment.”
The Marlins, who take pride in their pitching depth, continue to have it tested during an injury-filled season. Since the onset, it has been a challenge filling out the starting staff. Top prospect Sixto Sánchez sustained a setback in a simulated game on March 31, and he recently experienced discomfort during his throwing program.
On Thursday, Elieser Hernandez strained his right quad while scoring a run in the sixth inning. Hernandez, who had returned from the 60-day IL to make the start, underwent an MRI and was later placed back on the injured list Friday. The Marlins had envisioned Hernandez and Poteet solidifying their rotation behind Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López and Trevor Rogers.
Overall, 11 pitchers have started for the Marlins, with Ross Detwiler and John Curtiss getting the nod in bullpen games. Moving forward, the 40-man roster options are limited.
LHP Daniel Castano
Last pitched: Tuesday
2021 MLB stats: 5.19 ERA in four starts
LHP Braxton Garrett
Last pitched: Friday
2021 stats: 3.28 ERA in five Triple-A starts; three-inning relief outing for Marlins
RHP Nick Neidert
RHP Jordan Holloway
RHP Edward Cabrera
RHP Jorge Guzman (60-day IL)
RHP Paul Campbell
“We talk in our offensive, defensive meetings and pitcher meetings, making sure that we're bringing the message of, ‘We're not going to get back the past and we're not going to be able to change anything that's happened behind us,’” Mattingly said. “A common theme for anyone that's trying in this game that you play 162 games is you better learn to be able to put some stuff behind you.
“You can't let four, five, six bad games affect the next 20. You've got to be able to separate that out, push it behind you, and go forward. That sounds simple. It's not that easy. Like anything else, hitting's contagious, wins are contagious. Good things are happening to your club, you expect good things to happen. And when it's going the other way, just don't have that good feeling, you've got to push for it, you've got to fight through it.”