The 2014 Miami Marlins improved by 15 wins a year ago, despite losing their best starter (Jose Fernandez) to Tommy John surgery. Miami finished 77-85, just two games behind second-place Atlanta and New York, while Washington ran away with the division by 17 games. Fernandez made only eight starts before being shut down.
The Marlins are going for it all in 2015. Dee Gordon, Michael Morse, Martin Prado and Mat Latos are all new faces, and the team could still look to bolster their starting rotation via free agency. Miami, as it should be, is building the team around Giancarlo Stanton, arguably the game’s biggest superstar next to Mike Trout.
Projected “Go-To” Lineup
- 2B Dee Gordon
- LF Christian Yelich
- RF Giancarlo Stanton
- 1B Michael Morse
- 3B Martin Prado
- CF Marcell Ozuna
- C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
- SS Adeiny Hechavarria
Miami’s lineup looks strong on paper, especially the upper half. Gordon should continue to run wild, and Stanton, Morse and Ozuna will do most of the thumping. Miami’s bench is a little thin, so expect to see some variation of this lineup on a daily basis. Newly signed Ichiro Suzuki will get his turn in the pursuit of 3,000 career hits.
- RHP Mat Latos
- RHP Jarred Cosart
- RHP Henderson Alvarez
- RHP Dan Haren
- RHP Tom Koehler
The trade for Latos gives the Marlins a strong 1-2 punch once Fernandez returns, but the bottom part of the rotation leaves a lot to be desired. Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery in May and won’t be back until June at the earliest (and more likely July). Fernandez is a Cy Young candidate when healthy, and, given his delayed arrival, one lucky owner will receive a nice discount on Draft Day.
— CBS Sports MLB (@CBSSportsMLB) January 21, 2015
Jared Cosart had a 2.39 ERA in 10 starts after being traded from Houston to Miami last year, but a lack of strikeout stuff keeps him out of serious mixed-league consideration at the moment. Henderson Alvarez has shown the ability to go deep with three complete games last season, but my best guess is we just saw his peak. With little upside, he’s a late-round selection at best. Dan Haren has made it clear he doesn’t want to pitch in Miami. You don’t want him pitching on your fake teams, either. The Marlins are a possible landing spot for free-agent starter James Shields, which would improve the rotation tremendously while increasing Shields’ value in the NL.
- RHP Steve Cishek (closer)
- RHP A.J. Ramos (setup)
- LHP Mike Dunn (setup)
Steve Cishek increased his strikeout rate to a career-high 30.6% in 2014 with 39 saves. Last year’s 3.17 ERA was his highest in four seasons, but his 2.17 FIP and 2.54 xFIP were also his best marks of his career. He’s in the conversation for a top-10 closer.
2015 Miami Marlins Fantasy Studs
Stanton is the No. 2 overall pick after Trout in my book. No one in baseball owns more natural power, and the slugging 25-year-old will look to top 40 home runs for the first time in his career. Stanton hit 37 long balls in 145 games in 2014. Steamer projects him to finish with 41 home runs and a .278/.380/.568 slash line. Fernandez would be worthy of first-round consideration if healthy, but that’s not the case this spring. Don’t forget him on Draft Day, though.
Breakout Candidates: Christian Yelich, Michael Morse
I was slow to catch the Christian Yelich bandwagon, but I’ve finally caught up. Technically, the 23-year-old broke out last season, hitting .284 with 94 runs and 21 steals. But an improved lineup around him and an increase in power could help push him up the outfield ranks even further. It will be tough to best or even match last season’s results, but the possibility of a 15/20 season with 100 runs is there.
I feel like writing a column: “Why you should draft Christian Yelich over George Springer (but don’t have to)”
— Michael Salfino (@MichaelSalfino) January 22, 2015
I was personally hoping Mike Morse would end up in Baltimore, but Miami isn’t a bad landing spot, either. The only thing holding Morse back is health, as he’s averaged just 107 games since his 31-home run season with Washington in 2011. The idea here is that Morse’s move to first base will keep him on the field longer, allowing his 30-home run power to return. A .281 career hitter, Morse could flirt with a 100-RBI season – that is, if Stanton doesn’t steal all of his RBI opportunities first.
Sleeper Candidate: Martin Prado
It’s ridiculous to call Prado, a nine-year veteran, a sleeper, but Miami isn’t loaded with under-the-radar players. I don’t see Cosart or Alvarez making huge strides in the rotation, and Prado is sometimes lost in the shuffle on Draft Day. He’s the perfect complement for a young team, and can play multiple positions to accommodate manager Mike Redmond. He has averaged 151 games the past three years and can give you a little bit of something in every category. I’m not expecting Prado to turn back the clock, but he can be a valuable player to roster in traditional Rotisserie formats.
And, for what it’s worth, I don’t think Dee Gordon will fall off the cliff completely. I’m not likely to land him at his inflated ADP, but he’s still a top-five candidate at the keystone.
Bust Candidates: Mat Latos, Marcell Ozuna
|2015 Team Previews: NL East|
At first glance, Mat Latos’ move from Cincinnati to Miami looks great. But, in reality, the only improvement comes in the amount of home runs allowed in the two parks. Latos never had a gopher-ball problem while with the Reds, so the switch isn’t as dramatic. With declining velocity (92.6 mph in 2013, 90.7 in 2014), Latos’ strikeout rate plummeted to an all-time low of 17.6 percent. I don’t see Latos improving on his 2014 numbers without a return in velocity. Don’t expect another 3.25 ERA either, as Latos succeeded with a .269 BABIP (.278 career).
Miami’s facelift will push Marcell Ozuna down in the pecking order, and I expect Morse to steal a lot of his value in the lineup. Ozuna has the pop to hit close to 25 home runs a season (he hit 23 last year), but there could be a significant dip in batting average coming. Ozuna hasn’t demonstrated good on-base skills in his year and change in the big leagues, and last year’s 26.8-percent strikeout rate is a red flag.
Top Rookies: J.T. Realmuto, Justin Nicolina, Tyler Kolek
Miami isn’t the go-to destination for 2015 rookies. Catcher J.T. Realmuto, if Jarrod Saltalmacchia falls apart completely or is injured, has the clearest, but still murky path to playing time.
Pitchers Justin Nicolino and Tyler Kolek are two pitchers to keep a close eye on. Nicolino spent 2014 in Double-A, tossing 170-plus innings with a 2.85 ERA. That’s good, but 81 strikeouts are not. And 100-mph throwing Kolek is Miami’s top prospect, but the 2014 draft pick is multiple seasons away from making an impact.
There’s not a lot to see here for 2015.
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) January 22, 2015
What Should We Know About the 2015 Miami Marlins?
Miami is a sexy pick to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2003 –when they despicably (and more than fairly) defeated my Chicago Cubs, crushing the hopes and dreams of young men and women everywhere. They’re not going to challenge the Nationals for the NL East crown, but a Wild Card berth is in sight.
As currently constructed, I’m not optimistic about them making it back to the playoffs, however. They need to add one more starting pitcher, in my opinion, and just stay afloat until Fernandez returns. Fantasy-wise, Stanton and Yelich are the biggest fish to catch.
Giancarlo Stanton Photo Credit: Paul Hadsall
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