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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Miami Marlins

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Move along, people. Nothing to see here.

What, you think I'm kidding?

If you want to be a technical smarty-pants know-it-all, then yes, the Marlins do have something to offer Fantasy owners. Or two somethings, actually. Jose Fernandez entered the discussion for best pitcher in baseball as a 20-year-old rookie last year. Giancarlo Stanton struggled with injuries and a reduced supporting cast but remains an early round talent. Both are off the board before the end of Round 4.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

But after them? Crickets.

Naturally, the Marlins do have some upside on their roster, as any rebuilding team should, but aside from Christian Yelich, who got his first taste of the majors in the second half last year, nobody offers star potential. Factor in closer Steve Cishek, himself a riser at his position, and that's it. Four worthy draft picks in standard mixed leagues.

To make matters worse, the Marlins spent much of their offseason blocking what remains in the minors with everyone else's overflow. Garrett Jones has long offered good power for a part-time player, but as a full-timer and cleanup man, he doesn't have me rearranging my NL-only rankings. Casey McGehee came back from Japan to man third base, a position he hasn't held full-time since 2011, when he hit .223. Rafael Furcal -- who might be the most redeemable of the bunch, for whatever that's worth -- was already in steep decline before Tommy John surgery in 2012. Even Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Marlins' "big" free-agent signing, has more floor than ceiling. Maybe Marcell Ozuna or Jake Marisnick can take a big step forward -- with one, presumably Marisnick, beginning the year at Triple-A -- but the plate discipline issues are so glaring for both that you wouldn't want to make a real investment in either.

The Marlins are a little more committed to the youth movement with their starting rotation, which, aside from Fernandez, features three former prospects in Jacob Turner, Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez. All three have shortcomings -- most notably, a lack of strikeout potential -- that overshadow the strides they made last year. Are they sleepers? To some degree. But with all the depth at starting pitcher, they're the kind you can leave for NL-only leagues,

The more exciting choice is Andrew Heaney, the team's first-round pick in 2012 who climbed to Double-A last year. The Marlins haven't actually ruled him out for the fifth starter job this spring, but he's clearly a long shot. Of course, you could have said the same for Fernandez last year.

Breakout ... Christian Yelich, outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Rafael Furcal 2B
2. Christian Yelich LF
3. Giancarlo Stanton RF
4. Garrett Jones 1B
5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
6. Marcell Ozuna CF
7. Casey McGehee 3B
8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS
Bench Jeff Baker INF
Bench Ed Lucas INF
For a player like Yelich, the "breakout" label is almost too easy. He was so highly regarded as a prospect that most everyone assumes he'll be good someday. But after he hit just four home runs in what amounts to about half a season last year, he's not exactly a hot commodity on Draft Day. Instead of focusing on what he didn't do, though, consider what he did. In his first taste of the majors, with no Triple-A experience and on a historically miserable team, he reached base at a .370 clip that would have ranked in the top 25 if he had the at-bats to qualify. That's the difficult part for must up-and-comers, knowing when to swing and when not to. The rest you'd expect for a scrawny 21-year-old playing in a notorious pitcher's park. In time, he'll only get bigger and stronger, and it may well begin now. Yelich slugged .471 on the road last year, so it's not like he's far off. Worst case, you'll have a high on-base guy capable of stealing 20-25 bags.

Bust ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia, catcher

Health, outlier performances and a strong supporting cast enabled Saltalamacchia to perform like a top-12 catcher, at least in Rotisserie leagues, each of the last two years, which could compel Fantasy owners to draft him as such in 2014. So let's examine those factors one by one, shall we? It's not like Saltalamacchia has a history of poor health, so you can at least expect him to take the field, but outlier performances are by definition unlikely to happen again. So were they really outliers? Well, he showed last year his 25 home runs in 2012 were outliers by connecting for about half as many despite setting a career high in hits. And as for those hits, complete with that shockingly respectable .273 batting average, it's not like he made contact at a higher rate, cutting down on his strikeouts. He put together a .372 BABIP, which is basically Mike Trout territory. Hard to see that happening again. Playing with a putrid supporting cast in an overwhelmingly pitcher-friendly park, I envision Saltalamacchia's stint with the Marlins going something like John Buck's.

Sleeper ... Nate Eovaldi, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Jose Fernandez RHP
2. Nate Eovaldi RHP
3. Jacob Turner RHP
4. Henderson Alvarez RHP
5. Tom Koehler RHP
ALT Brian Flynn LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Steve Cishek RHP
2. A.J. Ramos RHP
3. Mike Dunn LHP
4. Carter Capps RHP
5. Arquimedes Caminero RHP
The Marlins are playing with less than a full deck, so backing any of their players (apart from the obvious Stanton and Fernandez) requires a certain level of imagination. Eovaldi isn't exactly an ace-in-waiting and won't be on my radar in mixed-league drafts, but he appeared to make some progress with what skills he has last season. If nothing else, he throws hard, averaging more miles per hour on his fastball than any qualifying starting pitcher last year, including Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg and Fernandez. Clearly, that fastball isn't as effective as theirs, resulting in a below-average strikeout rate, but shortening hitters' reaction time helps make up for his modest command issues. It was most evident over his final 12 starts, when he compiled a 3.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Eliminate a particularly ugly start on Aug. 16, and those numbers drop to 1.97 and 1.21. Again, he's not a priority pick. He gets no run support, doesn't help in strikeouts and is predisposed to a high WHIP. But he's someone to monitor at the start of the season.

Prospects Report

Apart from Heaney, the only first-rate prospect left in the Marlins system is Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft. And even he only went so high because of his polish. He'll arrive quickly and is a safe bet to contribute, but he may never be more than a middle-tier third baseman in Fantasy because of his limited home run power. ... Brian Flynn made a name for himself last year with a 2.63 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 27 minor-league starts -- most of them in the heavy-hitting Pacific Coast League. He struggled in a late-season tryout and hasn't gotten much love from the prospect hounds, but he's a name to remember if he forces his way into the picture midseason. ... Marisnick to this point remains the headliner of the deal that sent half the Marlins roster to the Blue Jays last offseason, but Justin Nicolino is the more projectable of the two prospects and isn't far from claiming a rotation spot at age 22. He struggled with his promotion to Double-A last year, but as a control artist with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, he should find success in the majors, if only as a middle-of-the-rotation type.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Jake Arrieta gives owners something to remember
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:32 pm ET) Just in case you were beginning to have some doubts about Jake Arrieta, noticing that he hasn't been quite as dominant in recent weeks with a 3-4 record, 3.67 ERA and 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 12 starts since his breakthrough June, he made sure that line of thinking wouldn't haunt you in the offseason, regardless of how his final two starts go, with his performance Tuesday night.

Not only did he record his first complete game and shutout, but he threw a one-hitter, setting a career high with 13 strikeouts. It was a start even better than any of those he had in June, and he did against the same Reds team that beat him up for six earned runs in four inning back on Aug. 28 -- one of two ugly starts that served to inflate his ERA during that 12-start stretch.

The 28-year-old right-hander has maintained his velocity throughout and, apart from a trio of three-walk games at the beginning of July, hasn't encountered any of his past control issues. And for all his strikeouts, he has one of the lowest home run rates in the majors, making him the best of both worlds as far as quality pitchers -- a groundballer who won't give up a bunch of cheap singles pitching to contact.

In other words, he checks off every box on the list.

The one exception, of course, is durability. Until he goes 200 innings, you have reason to wonder if he can. But once all the established aces go off the board, Arrieta will rank as high as any pitcher in 2015. Top 25 seems like a lock.


Jake Lamb, David Peralta still out for Diamondbacks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:18 pm ET) Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb (quad) and outfielder David Peralta (back) remain absent from the lineup Wednesday against visiting San Francisco.

Lamb has had just one at-bat since Friday after an encouraging 7-for-19 stretch. Peralta has been sidelined since Sept. 5.


Nolan Arenado down again Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:09 pm ET) Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is set to sit again Wednesday against the visiting Dodgers with a chest contusion. Rafael Ynoa has been tabbed to man the position.

Arenado was on a 1-for-13 slide before going down.


Hanley Ramirez again a no-go Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:03 pm ET) An elbow strain that prevented oft-injured Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez from playing Tuesday night also has him sidelined Wednesday afternoon in Colorado.

Ramirez, who has missed more than 30 games this season, boasts a stat line of .277/.362/.444. He had nine hits in 17 at-bats before his latest physical setback.


Dee Gordon catching break Wednesday against Rockies
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Red-hot Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon will cool his heels Wednesday afternoon in Colorado. He is out of the lineup in favor of Darwin Barney, who will also assume his leadoff spot.

Gordon owns a 10-game hitting streak with seven multi-hit games. He is 18 of 41 during that stretch with 14 runs scored and four stolen bases.


Brad Peacock start Friday pushes Dallas Keuchel back a day
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:49 am ET) Astros right-hander Brad Peacock, who lost his Monday start to back soreness, has returned to the rotation, thanks to a pain-free bullpen session Tuesday. He is set to start Friday night against Seattle, the Houston Chronicle has reported.

The move pushes ace lefty Dallas Keuchel back to Saturday, giving him an extra day of rest.


Steve Pearce could be in line for occasional break
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:39 am ET) The promotion of prospect Christian Walker could mean a bit of rest for blossoming Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce downt the stretch after the team clinched the American League East title Tuesday night, per the Baltimore Sun.

Pearce has received more significant playing time than at any point in his major league career. He has been particularly hot lately with eight hits, including two home runs, in the last 17 at-bats. Despite having made his debut in 2007, his 320 at-bats this year nearly doubles his previous single-season high.


Yonder Alonso seeking return to Padres next year
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:32 am ET) Padres shelved first baseman Yonder Alonso is hoping he will be asked back in 2015 after losing the last seven weeks of this season to a wrist injury that required surgery.

"I don't deal with the business side of it, but I think we have really good people here, really good guys that make really good decisions (as far as) the guys that came in," Alonso told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They know the game, they know baseball and they know what I can bring."

What Alonso brought this year was a stat line of .240/.285/.397 and seven home runs in 267 at-bats. He finished with a flourish with 11 hits in his last 17 at-bats, including two taters.

Alonso could be non-tendered next season in his first year of arbitration eligibility.


Rusney Castillo not much help this year
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:31 am ET) Rusney Castillo's debut for the Red Sox Wednesday night in Pittsburgh shouldn't create the mad dash to the waiver we're used to seeing for midseason callups. If you play in a traditional weekly league, you have just one more opportunity to set a lineup, and nothing he does in the next five days would compel you to switch from what you already have (outside of AL-only leagues, of course, where he's probably been owned since the day he signed).

And I suspect it won't be so noteworthy anyway. Other than the 22 at-bats he got during the minor-league playoffs, he hasn't played competitive baseball in over a year. And now, he's competing against the best the world has to offer.

But his arrival is still welcome news in Fantasy. Often, the most difficult players to assess going into a new season are the ones imported from overseas, where the competition is questionable and the available scouting reports are limited. The Red Sox are removing much of the mystery by giving us this sneak peak.

So what would be a successful debut for Castillo? My latest post to the Fantasy Baseball Today blog discusses just that. Be sure to give it a look.


Offseason back surgery an option for Angel Pagan
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:22 am ET) The bulging disk that has plagued Giants center fielder Angel Pagan much of the year could require offseason surgery, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

That, however, is one of several options.

Pagan missed his second straight game Tuesday with the back issue. Bruce Bochy is hoping to plug him back in Wednesday as the team continues its fight for a playoff spot. Pagan has been one of the team's most dependable players when healthy. He owns a stat line of .302/.342/.391 with 56 runs scored in 381 at-bats.


 
 
 
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