The Marlins envision Monte Harrison emerging into a playmaker, whether in the outfield or at the plate. Appearing in his fifth big league game on Saturday night, Harrison slapped a two-run single with the bases loaded that pulled Miami within one run of the Mets at Citi Field.
But J.D. Davis countered with a crushing three-run homer in the seventh inning that helped the Mets pull away for an 8-4 victory, snapping the Marlins’ six-game winning streak.
“Obviously, Monte is just a superior athlete,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He's going to overpower parts of the game. And I feel like he's got a little ways to go. There are going to be stretches where he's rough at the plate, I think. But I think he's that kind of guy who is going to continue to make adjustments.”
In defeat, the Marlins were reminded how Harrison can impact a game by simply making contact. Even if it is soft contact.
Trailing, 5-2, with two outs in the sixth inning, Harrison dribbled a slow roller off Drew Smith’s 89.6 mph cutter into right field, plating two runs. According to Statcast, the exit velocity on Harrison’s second big league hit was 75 mph, and it had an expected batting average (xBA) of .140.
“That little hit is something we've seen in Spring [Training],” Mattingly said. “Where he is able to fight that ball to right-center against certain types of guys.”
The slow roller is another example that positive outcomes can occur by putting the ball in play. Making consistent contact is an objective for Harrison. At Double-A Jacksonville in 2018, he had a 36.9 percent strikeout rate. He lowered that percentage to 29.9 percent last year at Triple-A New Orleans.
Speed is also a huge component of Harrison’s game. Already this season, Statcast tracked one of his sprints from home plate to first base on a groundout to third at 30.1 feet per second. The MLB average is 27 feet per second.
Saturday’s setback also marked the MLB debut of left-hander Daniel Castano, acquired by Miami in the Marcell Ozuna trade with the Cardinals after the 2017 season. The 25-year-old worked 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned).
Castano surrendered two-run homers to Michael Conforto in the second inning and Pete Alonso in the third. The Alonso blast, per Statcast, was a missile. It had an exit velocity of 116.9 mph.
"I was happy with the way we swung the bat,” Mattingly said. “We just got hurt by the long ball tonight."
Piecing together the rotation has been a challenge for the Marlins, who have three starters on the injured list -- Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and José Ureña. They were the club’s scheduled first three starters entering Opening Day.
Due to the attrition, the Marlins have used nine different starting pitchers to open the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s a first in MLB history.
That streak is expected to end Sunday in the series finale, with Pablo López scheduled to make his second start.
All four players the Marlins acquired from the Cardinals in the Ozuna trade have now reached the Majors. The other three are Alcantara, outfielder Magneuris Sierra and right-hander Zac Gallen, who was traded in July 2019 to Arizona for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm.
“Maggy and I were joking about that the other day,” Castano said. “I was the last one to finally make it up. Zac congratulated me, and Sandy is obviously Sandy, our ace and doing phenomenal.
“I may have been the fourth piece and not mentioned as much. I just use that as a chip on my shoulder and an excuse to work harder, to get better. It may not have gone as well as I would have liked it today, but I'm not going to have my head down.”