2015 Miami Marlins Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/3/2015
Because I try to be a glass half-full guy, let's first look at what went right for the Marlins last season in their 77-85 campaign. The team was in the wild-card hunt into September and had a 15-win increase from 2013. Young slugger Giancarlo Stanton led the National League with 37 homers and was second with 105 RBIs. Youngsters like Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Adeina Hechavarria all showed signs of being very good major-leaguers. Pitcher Henderson Alvarez had his best year and proved he could be a good No. 2 to ace Jose Fernandez.
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OK, now the bad news. The franchise missed the playoffs for the 11th straight season and had a losing record for a fifth in a row. Fernandez, who was truly amazing during his 2013 NL Rookie of the Year season, was lost in May to Tommy John surgery. Stanton might have won the big-league home run crown but was horrifyingly hit in the face by a pitch in a Sept. 11 game in Milwaukee and missed the rest of the season.
Still, as long as Fernandez and Stanton come back fine, this team has what few do: a true ace and a superstar slugger. And there's a ton of young talent here, plus some very interesting additions. I expect that string of losing seasons to end, but winning the NL East is a pipedream with how deep the Washington Nationals are.
Marlins 2015 Projected Lineup
The two every-day players who have moved on are first baseman Garrett Jones (.246, 15 HRs, 53 RBIs) and third baseman Casey McGehee (.287, four HRs, 76 RBIs). Not huge losses considering the replacements. One addition I want to mention who won't appear in the starting lineup is Ichiro Suzuki. He will essentially back up all three outfield positions. The 41-year-old Ichiro is 156 hits shy of 3,000, and he's not getting that in 2015 barring injury to a starter.
The leadoff hitter will be second basemen Dee Gordon, an All-Star last year with the Dodgers. Miami gave up highly-touted young pitcher Andrew Heaney and some prospects for Gordon and starting pitcher Dan Haren. Gordon had his best season, hitting .289 with a big-league best 64 steals in 2014. He's followed by the left fielder Yelich (.284, nine HRs, 54 RBIs), whom many project stardom for. Then there's Stanton, who plays right and hits third. The Marlins took a major risk in signing him to the biggest contract in American sports history, a 13-year, $325 million deal that's actually team-friendly in the first few years. Stanton, who turned 25 on Nov. 8, wasn't due to become eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. But Miami had to do something to awaken a disinterested fan base. Stanton is physically fine from that beaning, but sometimes there can be psychological issues. Will he be afraid of the inside pitch now? Stanton will wear a unique face-guard on his batting helmet. It actually looks pretty cool.
Batting cleanup will be first baseman and new addition Michael Morse. He hit .279 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs for the World Series-champion Giants last year. Another new addition, third baseman Martin Prado, hits fifth. He and reliever David Phelps were acquired from the Yankees for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, Jones and a prospect. Prado hit .316 with seven homers in 37 games with the Yankees after a trade from Arizona. Center fielder Ozuna hits sixth and he also has a huge ceiling after batting .269 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs. Some believe the Marlins have the best offensive outfield in the majors. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.220, 11 HRs, 44 RBIs) and the shortstop Hechavarria (.276, 34 RBIs) round out the lineup.
Marlins 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
The main loss from the rotation was Eovaldi, who was 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA. So not a big loss, although he still has upside. Any talk of the rotation obviously has to start with Fernandez. He recently said doctors have given him a target date of July 16, or nearly 14 months after undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery on his right arm. However, GM Dan Jennings said Fernandez could be back by mid-June. Fernandez was 4-2 last year with a 2.44 ERA before going down.
So the ace to open the season will be Alvarez (12-7, 2.65 ERA). He will be followed by Mat Latos, acquired in a trade from Cincinnati. He was 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA in a season that was limited to 16 starts because of elbow and knee injuries. Latos can become a free agent after this season. He cost young starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and a prospect. Last August, Miami acquired pitcher Jarred Cosart (13-11, 3.69) from Houston, and he slots in at No. 3. The current No. 4 is Haren (13-11, 4.02 with Dodgers), but he had made it known he wants to pitch closer to his Southern California home. It's still unclear whether the Marlins will trade him, but for now it appears Haren has accepted staying put. The Dodgers are paying his entire $10 million salary this year. Tom Koehler (10-10, 3.81) rounds out the rotation.
Marlins closer Steve Cishek avoided arbitration with a one-year, $6.65 million deal and saved a career-high 39 games (fifth most in the National League) in 2014. He went 4-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 67 appearances.
Marlins Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , Miami is +3300 to win the World Series, +1600 to take the pennant, +600 for the NL East and an "over/under" wins total of 81.5, with over a -130 favorite. At Sportsbook.ag, Stanton is the +600 favorite to lead the majors in home runs, and he has a total of 36.5 (both -115). The Marlins were 85-77 against the spread last season and 83-68-11 O/U. On the moneyline, they were -2 units on the year.
Marlins 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Miami to finish second in the NL East with a record of 81-81. I like this team. I think it could win any of the three American League divisions. But barring disaster in Washington, it's going to take a wild-card spot to get into the postseason in 2014. I like the over wins, but I think I need to lean under on Stanton's homers until I see that's he's not skittish of those inside pitches.
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