Things have changed at the bottom of baseball's standings in the last week or two. Teams like Toronto, San Francisco and Kansas City came into the season as potential contenders, but they started out playing just horrible ball. All of those teams are still in holes they likely can't climb out of this year, but the Giants have won five straight, the Royals have won six of 10, and the Blue Jays have seven wins in their last 10. They are all playing better and have gone from having no hope to having just a glimmer. There are, though, still some teams that are on a one way trip to nowhere. It's not even the end of May yet, and teams haven't even played a quarter of the season. Yet for these teams there isn't any real reason to get out of bed in the morning. It is going to be a very long season in these four cities:
Miami Marlins: At 14-25 the Marlins have the worst winning percentage in the entire league. They are actually not a terrible team at the plate. They aren't setting any records, but it's not a disaster by any means. It's on the mound that they are in real trouble. The death of Jose Fernandez left a gaping hole in the rotation, and they have not been able to fill it. Their starters are a dismal combined 7-16 on the season, and only the Mets, Padres and Giants - three teams with major issues of their own this year - have allowed more runs. Their offense isn't nearly good enough to overcome this kind of defensive incompetence. And the problem is that it isn't going to change in any hurry. It's not that the rotation is underperforming. They just aren't any good, so you couldn't realistically have expected much more than this. They have lost seven straight series and have been swept in two of them, so they certainly aren't getting any better with time. This is a team with a world of issues, and the wrong guy is in charge in Don Mattingly to try to get things back on track. They have been a betting disaster, too - they are the worst moneyline squad in the league.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies being bad is nothing new. It's hard to believe that it wasn't too many years ago that this team was a perennial contender. Now they are lousy and seem determined to stay that way. They have dropped 13 of their last 16 games, so they are really determined right now to show how bad they are. We could go in depth into what the issues are and what they mean, but it really isn't a mystery. It is tough to win in the major leagues when you don't field a major league roster. This group would struggle to dominate in Triple-A, so trying to measure up in the bigs is just far too much to ask. The only way it can change is with time, and injection of talent, and some luck. The only thing saving this team right now is that aside from Washington the NL East is just a hot mess right now. Miami is worse than Philly, the Mets are in a funk, and the Braves are bad. Philly actually has a 12-11 record against their lousy division - which makes them 2-11 against everyone else.
San Diego Padres: You have to notice that all four teams on this list are in the National League. Doesn't say much about the quality of that group, does it? This squad has gone 7-16 in their last 23, so their struggles are not recent and are sustained. They are awful and only have the Marlins to thank for not being in the cellar of the league. Their biggest issues are on the mound. They have allowed a league-worst 216 runs. I haven't played an organized game of ball for 25 years, and I think I'd have a shot at a spot in this rotation. Jered Weaver has confirmed that he is completely washed up. Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill are all guys who have shown glimpses of something at times, but it's not visible now. It doesn't help that they don't have a ton of support - only two offenses have scored fewer runs - but this team has allowed more runs than everyone except Washington has scored, so they would be in trouble pretty much no matter what.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates were on the verge of breaking through a couple of years ago, but it sure feels like their window has slammed shut the last two years. They are just 5-11 in the last 16 games and are a truly pathetic 8-15 away from home. Their biggest issue is the offense - they have scored just 142 runs in 39 games, which is second worst in baseball. Andrew McCutchen was a superstar not too long ago, but now he's awful. And the team seems to be sucking up his awfulness - there isn't a single guy at the plate who is worthy of fearing. The pitching isn't helping, either. Most striking is Gerrit Cole. Not long ago it looked like he was going to ascend to the ranks of the true elite. Now he's still got some solid numbers - a 1.06 WHIP and seven quality starts in eight outings - but he isn't dominant, and he isn't doing enough to lead this team. His record is just 1-4, which is far below what it should be for a guy like that even on a team like this.
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