Reporting Tim Kephart
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBSMiami.com) – The Florida Marlins started out the regular season as one of the hottest teams in baseball. They were hitting well and their pitching staff, outside of Javier Vazquez, was keeping opponents at bay.
Then in late May, the Marlins started losing. The Fish have kept losing and have gone from being tied for first with the Phillies in the NL East to occupying the cellar along with the Washington Nationals.
Making matters worse, the Marlins two key players, ace pitcher Josh Johnson and slugger Hanley Ramirez, have either been injured or been completely ineffective.
Johnson, the Marlins unquestioned ace in the rotation, has been suffering from what was initially called shoulder inflammation. However, he’s still not throwing off a mound and reports say he’s at least another month away from returning.
Ramirez is a different monster. He’s been a shell of his former self and seems to be reverting to his 2010 form when he helped run manager Fredi Gonzalez out of town. Ramirez is hitting just .206 for the season and no one can seem to get him out of his funk.
The Marlins may have to begin looking at making roster changes and Ramirez, even though he’s playing poorly, could bring some good prospects back to the Marlins to work on for next year when the new stadium is built.
It’s unlikely the Marlins would move Ramirez, but something dramatic has to happen to get the Marlins out of their losing ways.
Having to match Javier Vazquez against Cliff Lee isn’t the best way to snap a losing streak. But for the Marlins, at least they finally scored more than one run in the second-half of Wednesday’s double-header against the Phillies.
After the Philadelphia series, the Marlins travel to Tampa to battle the Rays. The rotation will see Brad Hand go for the Marlins in the first game of the Rays series. Hand is 0-2 with a 3.27 ERA in just 11 innings pitched over those two games.
The Marlins will return home next Monday for a 3 game set against the Angels before heading out on the road again for a 9 game road trip out West against the Mariners, Oakland A’s, and Texas Rangers.