As Jarred Cosart goes, so go the Marlins.
At least that’s the belief among many in the Marlins organization, who feel a bounce-back season by the right-hander might be the key to the team’s fortunes.
If Cosart pitches the way he did for them in 2014, they have themselves a quality, middle-of-the-rotation starter. If Cosart pitches the way he did last season, it could be big trouble.
Cosart didn’t give them a solid read to go on Monday when the Marlins manhandled the Mets, opening up a big lead early and holding on for a 10-3 win over the defending National League champions.
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The Marlins won with their bats, not his arm.
Even though the Marlins handed Cosart a comfortable 8-0 cushion with a big, seven-run explosion in the second, he was unable to stick around long enough for the decision, flaming out after throwing 101 pitches in only 4 2/3 innings.
It was a wobbly outing.
After Cosart breezed through three scoreless innings, allowing only an infield single and a walk, he returned to the mound in the fourth unable to locate his secondary pitches, two of which went for wild pitches.
The Mets scored three runs, and manager Don Mattingly had no choice but to take him out before he could complete the five innings necessary for the victory, reaching into his bullpen sooner than he would have liked.
Cosart threw only 53 of his 101 pitches for strikes, a poor ratio.
Then again, Cosart’s issues were nothing compared with Mets starter Steven Matz.
The Marlins went to town on Matz, who was bidding to become the first Mets pitcher to win his first five regular-season decisions. He didn’t come close.
After issuing a pair of walks to start the second, Matz gave up consecutive singles to J.T. Realmuto and Adeiny Hechavarria, RBI singles to Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich, and a two-run homer to Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton’s home run was his second of the season, and it sent Matz packing.
After the Mets chipped into the lead against Cosart, the Marlins came up with two more runs in the sixth on Marcell Ozuna’s first home run of the season — an opposite-field shot — and a RBI single by Realmuto.
Every position player in the lineup had at least one hit for the Marlins.
Chris Johnson, who was starting in place of Justin Bour with the lefty Matz going for the Mets, reached base four times.
And so the first showdown of the season between the Marlins and the team they’re looking up at in the NL East went to Miami.
Perhaps it’s unfair to Cosart to make much of his first outing.
After all, he was the last starter in the rotation to take the mound, and he had not pitched in a Grapefruit League game since March 21 — a stretch of 20 days without facing another team in an actual game.
And Cosart is coming off a strange season in which he was limited to only 13 starts, spending much of the summer trying to overcome the effects of vertigo.
Now that he has been cured of that, it’s up to him to prove that he’s the same pitcher he was in 2014, when the Marlins acquired him in a midseason trade with Houston and he pitched well in return, going 4-4 with a 2.39 ERA in 10 starts.
Cosart still has time to be that pitcher again.