Not a lot went right for the Miami Marlins last year en route to a last place finish in the NL East and things aren’t exactly looking up for them in 2014.
That will also carry over to the fantasy world, as the team is bereft of many fantasy-quality assets. However, they do have a team with many intriguing questions marks. So, let’s break down the 2014 Miami Marlins with our top five questions.
1. What can we expect from Jose Fernandez in his sophomore season? Fernandez will have his work cut out for him to have a quality encore. No one expected this 21-year-old to come up and pitch the way he did.
After a couple of so-so starts early on, Fernandez was phenomenal down the stretch of his season posting ace-like numbers (finishing the year with a miniscule 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts) before unceremoniously being shut down after pitching 172.2 innings. The Marlins shut him down as to not overwork him while preserving their franchise arm.
Of course, playing on the Marlins will limit his chances for wins but Fernandez has the skill set to be a bona fide stud for years to come. His peripherals are great and with a 9.7 K/9 last year (after posting a 10.7 K/9 rate in the minors), he looks like the real deal. Sure, he may have some hiccups in his sophomore season, but he is as good as it gets as a high-end No. 2 pitcher for your staff.
2. Which round (going by a standard 12-team league) should you target Giancarlo Stanton in? After appearing in less than 130 games in back-to-back years, a lot of luster has faded off of Stanton.
Still, Stanton has prodigious power and that should never go unnoticed. Even in his last two injury-shortened seasons, he has averaged roughly 30 home runs and 74 RBI’s. If you extrapolate those numbers to a full season (say 150 games or so), he could produce close to 50 HR’s and well over 100 RBI’s.
Considering he is healthy at the moment, you should not let him last past the second round. The reward far outweighs any risk attached to Stanton’s name.
3. Is Christian Yelich a legitimate sleeper to target? In a word: absolutely. At just 22 years-old, Yelich is just starting to tap his vast potential.
In 240 at-bats last season, Yelich had his natural ups and downs while posting a respectable .288 batting average to go with four home runs, 16 RBI’s and 10 stolen bases. With the raw five-tool skill he possesses, Yelich will be in demand come the later rounds of drafts. His upside is through the roof and with a full season of at-bats to work with, it’s possible we could be looking at a 20/20 guy with a solid average. Just don’t overreach, as he still is not the most polished hitter and needs time to mature. In time, though, he will become a fantasy mainstay.
4. Can newcomers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Garret Jones contribute anything? Obviously, when dredging up the names of Saltalamacchia and Jones, you’re talking about them only having value in deep leagues or NL-only leagues.
Now that they have an opportunity for increased roles, they could actually put up some solid numbers.
After years of playing in a timeshare in Boston, Saltalamacchia should have a firm grasp as starter as he only has to stave off Jeff Mathis. If Saltalamacchia can stay healthy, he has every chance to surpass the 405 at-bats (his career best to date) he put up with the Red Sox in 2012. And if he does, he may be able to put up close to 30 home runs and 80 RBI’s. After all, he came close to the numbers in 2012 with 25 and 59 in those 405 at-bats.
As for Jones, he too has always had to play the platoon role with Pittsburgh, but with the Marlins he will be penciled in as the everyday first baseman and will be Stanton’s protection while batting fourth in Miami’s lineup. If he can replicate the success he had with the Pirates from 2010-2012, where he averaged 496 at-bats, he should come close to slugging over 20 home runs and 70+ RBI’s. When you think about it, that’s not bad production from a corner infielder.
5. Aside from Fernandez (and Steve Cishek at closer), is there any pitcher on Miami worth drafting? The pitcher you should not sleep on in this mediocre group of has-beens and never-weres is Nate Eovaldi.
Eovaldi can bring the heat and has the secondary skills to be a somewhat reliable option for fantasy purposes. He started to get it in gear to end the 2013 season, compiling a 3.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in his final 12 starts.
As for the others, well, for the time being you can ignore Jacob Turner, Henderson Alvarez, and Tom Koehler.
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