Marlins pitchers learning ropes down stretch
Redmond says staff's inexperience showing vs. playoff-caliber competition
WASHINGTON -- In an otherwise frustrating season, the Marlins have pretty much had strong pitching.
But even that area of strength has endured its problems down the stretch.
When the Marlins played their best ball -- from June 1 to July 31 -- the staff had a 3.31 ERA, which was the seventh best in the Majors over that span.
But in the final two months, the pitching has worn down a bit. The Marlins also have played teams in playoff contention, and their inexperience has shown.
Since Aug. 1, Miami's 3.91 ERA is 20th overall.
"Part of the learning process is going through some ups and downs," manager Mike Redmond said. "What you see is when you start playing the better teams, the teams going to the playoffs and fighting for all that stuff, that's where you see the depth of some teams. Maybe some of the inexperience of our pitching takes over."
There are no shortcuts in gaining experience. You have to go through the grind of the entire season.
"At the same time, the only way you gather some of that experience is going out there and doing it," Redmond said. "If you look at guys who are the most consistent in this league, they were rookies too. A lot of them struggled when they first came to the big leagues, or it didn't work out the way it has for them now. That's all part of the process."
Lighter bat means farther homers for Stanton
WASHINGTON -- The lighter the bat, the farther the home runs for Giancarlo Stanton.
The Marlins' slugger, an imposing 6-foot-5, 250-pounder, clubbed his towering 463-foot home run on Wednesday at Philadelphia with a comparatively light bat.
To increase bat speed, Stanton uses a 34-inch, 32-ounce bat. Occasionally, the Miami slugger will drop weight to even 31 ounces, depending on the feel.
"I'd rather have a quicker bat," Stanton said. "The heavier it is, the harder it will be to get to [the pitch]."
A year ago, when Stanton belted 37 home runs, he pretty much stayed with the same bat size.
"People always say, 'I thought you swung a 36 or something,'" Stanton said.
Bat speed often separates power hitters.
In a flash at Citizens Bank Park, Stanton launched a drive that landed on the concourse, just in front of the Planet Hoagie food stand.
According to ESPN's Hit Tracker site, Stanton's blast was estimated at 463 feet. The Marlins slugger is a bit miffed by that estimate, because it is 23 feet shy of a similar drive by Atlanta's Evan Gattis at Philadelphia on Sept. 8.
Gattis' shot was more to dead center, while Stanton's was shaded toward left-center.
Hit Tracker had Gattis' homer at 486 feet.
Stanton joked about having a recount on the two homers, because both were on the concourse, and the bleachers actually extended deeper to where his home run landed. Now, they also take into account wind, which was factored into Gattis' homer.
From his perspective the home run Stanton felt was his longest this year was his first, a drive over the auxiliary scoreboard down the left-field line at Marlins Park.
That shot, on April 27, was estimated at 440 feet.
Stanton feels he is able to create the distance because he uses a lighter bat.
"Sometimes it is more feel too," he said. "Sometimes a 33-ounce bat will feel like 32. It's just how it's balanced out. I don't care if it is 35 ounces, it is how it feels in the hand."
MetroPCS Winter Warm Up set for Feb. 15
WASHINGTON -- With 10 games remaining in the season, the Marlins already are solidifying plans to help launch 2014.
The club announced the MetroPCS Winter Warm Up will take place on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, at Marlins Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET.
Miami senior vice president of marketing and event booking Sean Flynn announced the event is free and open to the public. It is an opportunity for fans to get autographs and meet current and former players.
Various events will be held on the West Plaza and there will be a sports cards and memorabilia exhibit.
The day also provides fans with a Select-A-Seat opportunity to purchase season ticket packages. There are a variety of plans ranging from 13 games to full, 81-game packages.
More information for purchasing a season ticket plan is available at Marlins.com/tickets.
• The Marlins have set their rotation for their final nine games. Completing the series at Washington are Jacob Turner (Friday), Tom Koehler (Saturday) and Brian Flynn (Sunday).
For the upcoming Phillies' series at Marlins Park, Nathan Eovaldi will pitch on Monday, followed by Henderson Alvarez (Tuesday) and Brad Hand (Wednesday). In the final series, at home against the Tigers on Sept. 27-29, Koehler will pitch the first game, followed by Eovaldi in the middle game and Alvarez for the finale.