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View from the other side: Marlins questions for Michael Jong of Fish Stripes

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We start a 3 game series against the Miami Marlins tonight. The Marlins are 24-33, sitting 4th in the NL East, 6.5 games back of the Mets.

They are 4th from the bottom of the NL in runs scored per game (3.9) and right at league average, 9th in the NL in runs allowed per game (4.2).

I sent off some questions to Michael Jong manager of Fish Stripes, SB Nations Marlins blog.

So the big trade really didn't work out the way we hoped it would. How are the players we sent you working out: Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Adeiny Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis?

Of the players sent over, the best has clearly been Henderson Alvarez, who has since put up 512 innings with a 3.23 ERA and 3.47 FIP, defying his strikeout-light problems from Toronto. However, while Alvarez has made an All-Star team and served as a top pitcher on Miami, he has also struggled with right shoulder injuries in each of the past three years and is currently on the DL again for the same problem. The best prospect on this list is Justin Nicolino, who was Miami's minor league pitcher of the year last season after putting up a fantastic full year in Double-A for the Jacksonville Suns. However, he still displayed issues with getting strikeouts, as his strikeout rate dipped to 11 percent, and it has not ticked back up much in 2015 in Triple-A. There are still questions about him.

Anthony DeSclafani is the other Major League starter in that group, though he is playing for Cincinnati after being traded in the Mat Latos deal. Adeiny Hechavarria has been a big-league regular for two years and change now, but only this season has he delivered on his promise of strong defense, even with questionable hitting. The true test will be to see how long he can retain either his current batting line in 2015 or his current defensive excellence. Jeff Mathis is who he always has been: a magician of playing time.

You have a new manager, Dan Jennings, kind of a surprise hiring. Have you seen enough of him to have formulated opinion about him? Have you seen signs that he hasn't managed before? What do the players think of him?

One of the reasons for the Dan Jennings hiring is that the players respect Jennings for his work as a scout and in the front office over the years with Miami. He has not shown any significant issues as a manager and has even tried some new-school managerial tactics to juice run-scoring like batting the pitcher eighth for a second leadoff man effect. However, none of this has probably helped or hurt Miami, and it remains to be seen if he can hold the clubhouse together well enough to retain the job next year.

The Marlins hasn't having a great season, what's gone wrong? Any hope they can turn things around and make a run at the playoffs?

A litany of things have gone wrong for the Fish to start the 2015 season. Injuries to Alvarez and Christian Yelich have limited their effectiveness, and the bug got worse when Jarred Cosart got hit with acute labyrinthitis and vertigo and Latos's knee issues flared up again. Giancarlo Stanton had a hot April and a cold May, leaving his season start lukewarm. Aside from the Dee Gordon acquisition, the offseason pickups just have not worked out well. This has all combined for a disastrous start, and the team's start was so poor that it seems highly unlikely that they can make a run for the Wild Card. The hole they buried goes a bit too deep.

Giancarlo Stanton isn't hitting the way we'd expect, what's going on with him?

Nothing, really. Stanton is striking out more often, but he is not exactly getting fooled by pitches; he has the same swing rates in and out of the strike zone that he had last year. His BABIP is way down this season, but he is hitting the ball harder than he ever has before, with a 49 percent hard-hit rate. He's mashing home runs at a Stanton-record pace. Once the balls start finding the gaps instead of gloves, particularly on his numerous line drives, he should be fine.

Are you expecting any prospects to be called up to the Marlins before the season's end?

Jose Urena has already been used to spot starts for injured players, and my suspicion is that Nicolino will also get a big league look if the pitching staff continues to struggle. The team may opt for minor league relievers like Nick Wittgren and Grant Dayton late in the year. However, for the most part, Miami has very little help coming from the high minors right now, so they cannot expect much to bolster their talent.

Thanks Michael.

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