Miami Marlins should 'let the kids play' rest of 2022 MLB season

·5 min read

MIAMI — “Let the kids play” should be the motto for the Miami Marlins as they play out the remainder of their disappointing season.

After falling out of the playoff race, the Marlins have some promising prospects who are expected to receive plenty of playing time down the stretch.

They will be tested against some tough competition, with the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres at loanDepot park in the coming days.

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As the Marlins provide opportunities for some of their young players, The Palm Beach Post offers these five takeaways.

Impressive return for Jesus Luzardo

Injuries are part of the game, which is why you don’t want to make them an excuse. But in the case of Jesus Luzardo, you can’t help but wonder what might have been had he not missed two months due to a left forearm strain.

Remember, Luzardo had Tommy John surgery in 2016 while he was in high school. So the left-hander has been careful as he builds up innings down the stretch.

In his first two starts since coming off the injured list, he allowed two earned runs on four hits with 11 strikeouts in 12 innings. Showing no signs of rust, Luzardo allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings on Aug. 7 in a win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Marlins left-hander Jesus Luzardo allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings on Aug. 7 in a win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Marlins left-hander Jesus Luzardo allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings on Aug. 7 in a win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School standout has impressed since spring training. This really had the makings of being a breakout season for the 24-year-old, but the arm injury set him back.

Luzardo has thrown 41 innings and is striking out 11.41 batters per nine innings. Opponents are hitting a mere .152 off him.

If healthy, Luzardo projects to be a big part of the 2023 rotation. The question is whether he will hold up.

Keystone State success for JJ Bleday

Going home has brought out the best in rookie outfielder JJ Bleday. The Pennsylvania native hit his first major league home run in Pittsburgh on July 24, in his second big league game. Bleday grew up outside of Pittsburgh.

On Tuesday at Philadelphia, home of his girlfriend, Emily Mathewson, Bleday connected on his second home run. The ball landed in the section near about 75 Bleday family members and friends.

It was more of the same on Wednesday, and he delivered a single, double and triple.

Both of Bleday’s home runs hit in the Keystone State were retrieved. Mathewson got possession of the ball on Tuesday after a friend in the group paid $200 to the fan who caught the homer.

The fourth overall pick by the Marlins in the 2019 MLB draft, Bleday projects to be a regular in the future. Still, the left-handed hitter has to earn his spot in the lineup.

So far, he’s showing potential. The organization intends to give him plenty of chances.

Bleday, who turns 25 on Nov. 10, belted 20 home runs, but he hit .228 and had a .365 on-base percentage at Triple-A Jacksonville.

Bleday offers a quality approach. For him to be a successful big leaguer, it’s a matter of making consistent contact. He struck out 27% of the time at Triple-A this season and is fanning at a 27.9% clip since being called up to the big leagues.

Time to monitor Sandy Alcantara’s usage

As quickly as Sandy Alcantara was breezing through the Phillies’ lineup on Wednesday, circumstances changed just as fast for him in the eighth inning. The result was a frustrating 4-3 Marlins loss at Philadelphia.

The front-runner for the National League Cy Young Award, Alcantara gave up three runs on six hits in the eighth inning and saw his record fall to 10-5, while his ERA rose to 2.01.

One disappointing finish didn’t dampen Alcantara’s bid to be the Marlins’ first Cy Young Award winner. But it does raise questions as to how the 26-year-old should be used for the rest of what’s now a lost season.

Alcantara paces the Majors with 166 innings and complete games (three). Short of shutting their ace down, the Marlins should be weighing how to monitor his innings.

Going with six in the rotation is an option. That would keep Alcantara pitching through the end of the year but with an extra day of rest. It also creates a spot for left-hander Trevor Rogers, who is rehabbing from back spasms, to rejoin the rotation.

Charles Leblanc playing like he belongs

You don’t want to get fooled by small sample sizes. Still, there’s a lot to like about infielder Charles Leblanc.

The 26-year-old has seen regular playing time at third base and has had a hit in 10 of his first 11 MLB games. A National League scout who saw him a few weeks ago at Triple-A Jacksonville told The Palm Beach Post that Leblanc has a chance to be a solid big league utility player.

In some ways, he’s a right-handed-hitting version of Miami infielder Joey Wendle.

Edward Cabrera has future ace potential

Edward Cabrera has been in the Marlins’ system for so long that the 24-year-old tends to get overlooked by some of the other pitching prospects in the organization.

Make no mistake, Cabrera’s upside is as high as anyone in the system, if not the highest. The hard-throwing right-hander has shown it in his two starts since coming off the injured list.

Since then, Cabrera has thrown 10 2/3 scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts and five walks. The biggest question for him is health. Right elbow tendinitis landed him on the injured list on June 15.

If he can stay healthy, Cabrera has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation talent.

Joe Frisaro covered the Marlins from 2002 to 2020 for mlb.com. He is the founder of ManOn2nd Baseball. Follow him @ManOn2nd and his podcast on the Five Reasons Sports YouTube Channel.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Marlins out of NL East race play prospects rest of MLB season