New Marlins pieces show up against Yanks

July 31st, 2021

MIAMI -- With the Trade Deadline behind them, the newish-look Marlins dropped a 3-1 decision to the Yankees on Friday night at loanDepot park. Rookie allowed just an Anthony Rizzo homer across 5 2/3 innings and Miami outhit New York (8-7), but the bats couldn’t complete a late rally.

Over the course of the final two months of the season, the Marlins will get an extended look at players to see how they fit into the club's future.

"One of the things we always said about our young players is, we want them to get their at-bats," general manager Kim Ng said before the game. "It's tough for them to be up here and sit on the bench, so this is really a great way to see them. So we're excited about that."

Here's a look at how they did in the series opener:

Who he's replacing: Adam Duvall

Miami acquired De La Cruz on Wednesday in the Yimi García trade with the Astros, and he slotted into right field after the Marlins sent Duvall to the Braves earlier on Friday. Duvall led the club with 22 homers and ranked fifth in the National League with 68 RBIs, providing a formidable 1-2 punch with Jesús Aguilar (NL-leading 75 RBIs) in the heart of the order.

The 24-year-old De La Cruz went hitless in four at-bats, but he made a nice running catch in the right-center-field gap to rob Gary Sánchez of extra bases in the fourth. Prior to the trade, De La Cruz slashed .324/.362/.518 with an .880 OPS in 66 games at the Triple-A level. He could be seen as a bridge until Miami’s outfield prospects are ready for the big leagues.

“During the first at-bat, I can't lie to you, I was feeling very nervous, but things took their course,” De La Cruz said via an interpreter. “In the outfield when I made that catch, I was in a good position, and he actually hit it in the wrong place.”

Who he's replacing: John Curtiss

The Rule 5 Draft pick has graduated to more high-leverage situations, though Friday's eighth inning was more out of necessity. Dylan Floro was being held for a tie game or save situation, while Anthony Bass was unavailable with a stiff neck. After Richard Bleier allowed consecutive batters to reach base with one out, the 24-year-old Pop surrendered back-to-back RBI hits. The versatile Curtiss was dealt to the Brewers for catching prospect Payton Henry.

“Zach has pitched well enough to get himself back into more leverage,” manager Don Mattingly said of Pop, who has a 2.55 ERA since June 13. “Throughout the course of the year, we've kind of pitched him in down games, games that are a little bit away. He's been getting the ball more and more with closer games and things like that to get more experience under his belt. So again, we'll try and put him in positions to be successful, but also keep testing him.”

Who he's replacing: Jesús Sánchez (IL)

The Marlins have used four players in left field since Sánchez landed on the COVID-19 injured list to open the second half of the season. Sánchez could be back soon, as he has begun return-to-play protocols. Miller, who was selected in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, received his first callup on Friday. He started in left and hit eighth, going 1-for-3.

“That first at-bat was fun to watch, kind of battling, 13 pitches,” Mattingly said. “Then to get a hit the next time up. I thought all of his at-bats looked good. He didn't look like he was overmatched; he had an idea what he wanted to do. So I thought for the first time out, [Miller and De La Cruz] looked OK.”

Who he's replacing: Bullpen arms

Pruitt came to South Florida with De La Cruz in the García trade. With García and Curtiss gone, relief roles are more fluid. Down 3-1 in the ninth, Pruitt worked a scoreless frame in his Marlins debut.

The 31-year-old Pruitt had been designated for assignment on the same day Houston sent him to Miami. Entering Friday, he had a 4.89 ERA in 69 MLB outings (10 starts) from 2017-21 between the Rays and Astros.