August can’t end soon enough for the Marlins.
“Is this month over?” manager Don Mattingly asked out loud.
The Marlins have managed to remain in the National League wild-card race, but only because their top rivals for those two playoff spots have sputtered as well.
Heading into their four-game series with the New York Mets, one of the wil-card contenders, the Marlins had gone 10-15 for the month, assuring them of their first losing month of the season.
The biggest problem: lack of scoring.
The Marlins have scored the fewest runs of any team in the majors in August, and hit the fewest home runs. It hasn’t helped that the Marlins have lost two of their sluggers — Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour — to injuries.
But Mattingly said that even when both were in the lineup, the Marlins didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard.
“Quite honestly, when we had everybody together, we were 11th in the league in runs,” Mattingly said. “Our [batting] average is really good. But we really haven’t been scoring. So that’s still an issue for this club and, moving forward, that’s an area that we feel like we have to get better.”
The Marlins are third in the majors with a team batting average of .269, yet 22nd in runs scored.
The Marlins are getting hits. They’re just not getting them at the right time.
Their .265 average with runners in scoring position ranks 19th.
But August has been particularly bad offensively.
“We’ve been struggling to score runs, and that’s partly on me,” said Christian Yelich, who is hitting .306 on the season but is having his worst month at the plate with a .267 average for August. “I’ve been struggling a little bit up there.”
He’s not the only one.
Marcell Ozuna (.168 in August), Ichiro Suzuki (.196) and J.T. Realmuto (.267) are all having their worst months in terms of average.
In what is becoming a race against time, Stanton was examined by a hand specialist in New York on Monday and did some running on the outfield grass at Citi Field to test his injured groin.
Whether he’s able to play before the end of the season remains to be seen.
“I’m doing my stuff to get back,” Stanton said. “I’m getting stronger everyday, more mobility, doing what I can.”
Stanton also performed some agility drills.
But the injury is still a work in progress, and he’s unable to do quick starts and stops.
“It’s running misdirections, quick jolts [that cause the most discomfort],” Stanton said. “What you can’t control, going after a ball in the outfield or jumping out of the box, those are the biggest keys, no matter what it looks like, to master.”
Nicolina sent down
The Marlins on Monday optioned left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino to Triple A New Orleans and recalled right-handed reliever Austin Brice from New Orleans.
Nicolino made an emergency start Sunday for Andrew Cashner, who is dealing with a blister on his right middle finger. But Mattingly said Casher will in all likelihood make his next start Friday in Cleveland.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.85) at New York Mets RHP Seth Lugo (1-2, 2.51), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.