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The Marlins are preserving a young arm for a playoff run

Jun 13, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

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Call them the anti-Nationals, maybe. But the Marlins are only a game out of first place and they are taking precautions with a young pitching prospect in the event they need him to help them out for a playoff run in September.

The pitcher is Andrew Heaney, who plays for Triple A New Orleans. Clark Spencer of the Herald reports today that he is being skipped in the rotation and will likely be skipped a few more times this season so that he doesn’t hit his innings limit and thus could be used for a potential playoff stretch run. In this the Marlins are making a different choice than the Nats made with Stephen Strasburg a couple of years ago.

As of now, Heaney ,who just turned 23,  is 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA and is striking out more then 10 batters per nine innings in four Triple-A starts.

  1. nolanwiffle - Jun 13, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    There will be no September playoff run for this squad. Strasburg and Co. will see to that.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jun 13, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Sorry to give you the bad news – but Lee Strasburg died a long time ago.

      But yea, I agree he could have stopped the Marlins were he so inclined. You know – that whole Godfather II thing and all

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      I’ve been saying this since before the season started, but watch out for the Marlins. I know it’s still early, but we are getting closer and closer to the half-season point and the Marlins are still right in the spot that people said they couldn’t hold past April. People hate on the Marlins just because they’re the Marlins. But, at this point in the season, their National League rankings are: 2nd in runs, 5th in base hits, 3rd in RBI, 5th in walks, 2nd in batting average, 3rd in OBP, 6th in Slugging, 3rd in OPS, 5th in OPS+, 6th in Total Bases, etc. etc.. The Marlins are playing some good ball this year. In fact, if the season were to end right this second, they are in the postseason. Now, I know that the season doesn’t end today, and that they need to sustain this if they’re going anywhere. But, don’t just discard the Marlins simply because they’re the Marlins.

      • Old Gator - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        No, the problem with the Feesh is that they’re a budget baseball team with some glaring flaws (see my last post on the Heaney thread a few parsecs back) playing in a weak division. Their pitching has overall deteriorated steadily in terms of just about every stat going back to El Keed’s May 9 fusterflunker. They received the gift of the tailspinning Razed and then the awful Cubs promptly beat them two out of three, and they could do no better than split with the Veterans Administration hospital bonus baby Rangers. Facing a good pitcher in Darvish, they came up as flat as the disc around a singularity. They’ve got a number two hitter batting cleanup, who has one home run to show for sixty plus games. Their everyday catcher, Mathis, can’t slug his way out of a paper bag. When the veteran teams in the league congeal, and the days drag on under the sign of Sirius, the Feesh will begin seriously playing down to their abilities. No one would be more delighted that yours truly to be wrong about this, but I don’t think I’m going to be. They’re playing on borrowed time.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        I agree with a lot of your points. I don’t know that I can confidently say that I think they can hold up against postseason teams if they do make it to October. They have some serious flaws, and the pitching is walking on a tight rope. They get into a lot of jams that they barely escape out of, and the defense leaves a lot to be desired (Furcal coming up soon?). This is all true. My point is that the general consensus towards this team is that they suck and there is no way that they can keep “getting lucky” and winning games. This team has some heart.. They are scrappy, and they have been getting it done. Yes, whenever they face elite pitching, they look overmatched, and this is a reason why I don’t know how they might fare in October. But I certainly think that they have what it takes to get there. Weak division or not, not ONE NL east team ranks higher than Miami in ANY of the stats that I posted above, besides the Mets who are #1 in walks. As for McGehee, he has been doing his job. He is not here to hit home runs. Not your traditional “cleanup” hitter, but he is doing his job, which is protecting Stanton and driving in runs. He is hitting for average, getting on base, and driving in runs when there’s men on base. Not saying that this is a World Series team (I would really hope so!), but looking at the numbers and more importantly, watching the games should give you something to think about..

      • Old Gator - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:56 PM

        I don’t believe that they suck. I just don’t think the kids are ready yet and the holes are big, though the general febrility of their division has allowed them to get away with their shortcomings – so far. As for McGehee, I enjoy the guy but he’s a number two hitter – in fact, an almost ideal number two hitter. But I disagree that he’s “protecting” the Iron Giant – “protecting” means you encourage pitchers to let the guy swing because you don’t want to walk him and have his “protection” come to bat with men on base. Just the opposite is happening. Opposing pitchers are treating the big guy like Calcutta tourists watching a snake charmer and keeping as far away from him as possible, preferring to walk him and face McGehee. As a result, the last couple of weeks, the Iron Giant has been getting frustrated and returning to his bad habits of last season, lunging at those down and away breaking balls he just can’t hit. If Ozuna ever achieves consistency – and I believe he will, but not necessarily this season – then there’ll be someone in the lineup behind him who will alter the balance of terror a bit.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 13, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        I don’t think that we’re very far apart in our opinions. I guess that I’m just a little more optimistic. But, I agree. McGehee is in no way a power threat, and pitchers are not “afraid” to pitch to him as opposed to Stanton. But, he is making them pay. Maybe not by being a “cleanup” hitter, but by slapping base hits up the middle with men on 2nd and 3rd, emptying the bases. Compared to last year, when Stanton was a one-man army out there, and he felt like every hitter before and after him was an automatic out, I think McGehee looks pretty good. And yes, I agree, that pitch down and away is the death of Stanton. Of course that having a legitimate power threat behind him would be ideal, and McGehee would be an ideal 2-hole hitter. But, this current setup can and has been producing some runs. All I’m saying is don’t count these kids out till they’re out. With all due respect to you Old Gator, I wish that you would be a little bit more optimistic about these kids. I have been seeing you on this blog for a very long time (I have been reading this blog WELL before I ever joined myself) and I know that you are very knowledgeable, and I also know that you want these kids to do well. Instead of poking at all of the negatives (which there are many, which we knew very clearly coming in), let’s focus on the positives that these kids bring to the table. These guys have the chance to surprise a lot of people. They already have surprised a lot of people but the baseball world doesn’t give them the love they deserve. They are not only playing teams in this division. They are winning baseball games. Yes, the state of the division helps them stay up in the ranks, but they are up there with the best teams in baseball. Barely scraping by? Absolutely. But, they are right there!

      • Old Gator - Jun 13, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        I hear the fan talking. The problem with optimism is that is has to be founded on something – stats, assessment of ability, the fruit of watching these guys day in and day out – and on the history of the franchise, how it deals with both adversity and advantage. Herein lies the rub. What would be an advantage for most franchises, like a core of developing young players, gets treated like adversity by a front orifice jockeyed by a corrupt old skinflint. Why do you think they haven’t signed the Iron Giant to an extension yet? If you said “because he really doesn’t want one,” or “he doesn’t want to give up his impending arbitration eligibility because he hopes it’ll get him traded,” you’d likely be right. It’s as hard to get optimistic about a team that has so many obvious on-field weaknesses as it is to get optimistic about a franchise that keeps eating its own children. So, in my case, as a fan, I try to substitute hope for optimism. And I also try not to let myself confuse the two.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        Okay, anything that has to do with Loria and his front office is a fraud. Absolutely. The organization itself is.. well you covered it perfectly. But, the product that I see on the field is a quality product (compared to what we have been given in the past). We already discussed all of the on-field issues that the team has, but this is the best Marlins team that I have seen in a long time. The kids are winning games, and I am excited. Maybe my being a hopeless romantic spills over onto baseball, but I don’t care to think about the front office and their bone-headed moves. We all know Stanton is gone. Anybody else who makes a name for themselves as a quality asset? Gone. I know all of this. But, when dumbing it down to what I see on the field? I see some kids who, like you said, are not necessarily ready yet. Some should still be in the minor leagues for a good amount of time. BUT, I see these same kids doing things that touch my heart. When I see them win these games, epecially the close ones where they have to fight with teeth and nails, it touches my heart. I’m not even a “Marlins fan” in the way that other people are “die-hard” fans of teams. I don’t have a team like that; I just love baseball more than most things in life and this year, there’s something about these kids that when I watch them play they just reek of passion for the game and a conviction to win baseball games against all expectations. I like to think of myself as a knowledgeable baseball fan. I know what the statistics say. I get your point entirely. Put these guys in front of a Darvish or a Tanaka and they’re completely overmatched. But, I genuinely believe that they have a legitimate chance at getting into the postseason. Will they go much further from there? Very, very difficult. But I really think that they can get there. Of course, there is a very good chance that very soon they will completely implode and go on a 20 game losing streak, then it’s all over. But until that happens, I guess I’ll keep being the hopeless romantic.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 13, 2014 at 11:16 PM

        Old Gator, I hope you’re watching this. Down 6-2 into the 9th inning, currently tied at 6 in the bottom of the 12th.. McGehee? Tying the game with a bases loaded walk. then getting a 1-out double behind “The Iron Giant” after he flies out to put the winning run in scoring position. This is what I’m talking about.. Henderson Alvarez currently laughing in the dugout taking practice swings “just in case” he has to pitch and hit tonight. This is the baseball I want to watch! Anybody who has not really watched these kids play this year, you really should!

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 13, 2014 at 11:34 PM

        Well so much for that. Gregory Polanco just hit his first major league homer to make it 8-6 in the 13th. That was a really impressive at bat by that kid in that spot. Very selective and pulled the trigger when he got his pitch after working a nice count. That was nice to see. I guess it’s weird the type of baseball fan that I am. I don’t have “allegiance” to any team. I just love watching good baseball and I watch baseball every day of my life (literally, Dominican winter league starts right after the World Series). Anyways.. If the Fish lose this one, this was a great battle and one of the toughest grinds that these kids have pulled off lately. The bullpen has been incredible tonight, besides Dunn just giving up that homer. I say tonight was a good baseball night regardless of the box score however it turns out.

      • Old Gator - Jun 14, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        Last night’s game was the most fun a fan can ask for, despite the depressingly predictable results. Dunn has a talent for hawking up a gopher at a critical moment rivaled only by Kevin Gregg, who, as you may know, is, like Nabokov’s Gradus, drawing inexorably closer even as we dialogue.

        I don’t want to dampen your hopeless romanticism. Mine is what got me married to my British wife thirty three years ago and counting. On the other hand, when I look at my life logically, she still makes perfect sense. When I look at this team logically, I see (neologism alert!!) the impendiment of Kevin Gregg….well, you understand.

        I cover last night’s almost-almost in the STS and adjacent Polanco threads.

  2. dan12 - Jun 13, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    This story sounds oddly familiar:

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/06/12/the-marlins-are-watching-andrew-heaneys-innings-with-an-eye-on-september/

  3. bigbenh8tr - Jun 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Craig what are you doing here?

    Writing an educated article about the Marlins or simply trolling the Nats?

    You are a hack

  4. stackers1 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    “This is the business we have chosen”

    • Old Gator - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      …John Myatt

  5. pdowdy83 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Isn’t this similar to the ole chicken and the egg? If said player you are saving for a playoff run would help you in September why would you hold that player down in the minors if a playoff run is not even a sure thing. Wouldn’t that player be of as much value now to try to help you even get to the playoffs in the first place?

    Obviously this is a topic that is easy to argue about but the Braves tried to hold Medlen back in ’12 so he would be available later in the season and while he was still able to pitch they didn’t get anywhere in the playoffs either and instead got stuck playing in the wild card game. Maybe if he had been used from the beginning of the season as a starter they would have avoided the wild card game in the first place.

    • Old Gator - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      You have to try to think like Scrooge McLoria, however noxious a prospect that might be. The other big issue is service time. If they bring him up earlier and he proves to be as good as they think he’s going to be, he’ll be set for arbitration that much sooner, and for Scrooge that’s a prospect that could gagg a maggot.

  6. El Bravo - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Go Braves.

  7. 18thstreet - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Bravo to the Marlins.

    There was a lot to hate about the Strasburg decision, but what killed me more than anything was that they let him use up the innings in July instead of saving him for the playoffs. I understood the reasoning behind the innings limit. I didn’t understand why it meant that he couldn’t get those innings in September.

    • emdash01 - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Because it wasn’t a sure thing they’d make the playoffs, and using Strasburg then gave them the best chance.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        There’s no such thing as a sure thing, but the Nationals were well-positioned throughout that season. Having him skip every other start for a while wouldn’t have made that big a difference.

        And then he would have been available to start in the playoffs instead of Edwin Jackson.

      • emdash01 - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        They only won by four games in the end, and the difference between Strasburg and John Lannan is pretty extreme, so it’s difficult to say it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

        And at any rate, I’m absolutely positive that the pitcher Strasburg would’ve replaced in the playoff rotation was Ross Detwiler, not Jackson.

      • NatsLady - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        We’ve been through this a thousand times. If you look back at the standings in mid-June it’s FAR from clear they could afford to have their best starter skip starts. Not only that, it’s far from clear that Strasburg, who is not the most flexible guy, would have adapted well to having his routine altered–and the same applies to putting him in the bullpen to “save” innings.

  8. emdash01 - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Seems like apples-to-oranges to me – Heaney is being limited in innings because of his age and inexperience, Strasburg had both that issue and Tommy John recovery to consider.

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