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'Jarlin the Marlin' has gone from great to bad in one month's time

After a blazing start, Jarlin Garcia's season has gone downhill quickly.
After a blazing start, Jarlin Garcia's season has gone downhill quickly. AP

Remember when Jarlin Garcia was good? Really good?

That was April.

May and June have been a completely different story.

Garcia went from great to awful in an instant, going from one of the top pitchers in the majors to one of the worst.

On Friday, Garcia took over in relief and gave up a pair of home runs, which are piling up on the left-hander.

Of the 82 pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings, Garcia’s rate of allowing 2.29 home runs per nine innings is the third-highest in the majors. More alarming: Garcia has given up 11 homersover his past six outings covering just 18 innings.

“The fastball command has been, obviously, not efficient at all,” said pitching coach Juan Nieves. “He’s been beat mostly with his fastball. Just the command of it has been very hittable. Aa lot of belt line pitches. And we have seen some things mechanically, too, that have taken part of that lack of depth from the fastball.”

Garcia is a a far cry from the pitcher who dazzled early on, ending April with a 1.00 ERA, second only to the 0.84 ERA put up the first month by Johnny Cueto of the Giants.

Since then, Garcia’s season has gone south in a big way.

His ERA in May of 8.14 ranks 136th of the 138 pitches with at least 20 innings for that month.

"We feel like he's tipping (pitches) and teams probably have it," said manager Don Mattingly. "They don't usually miss that. So there's some things for us to work on as far as getting rid of that."

The Marlins are managing Garcia’s innings carefully as they groom him into becoming a starter one year after he worked exclusively out of the bullpen.

He began the season in the rotation but was moved to relief to control his innings workload.

“He hasn’t started in two years and we’ve seen a little bit of fatigue,” Nieves said. “It takes time. We still believe in his ability to start.”

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There have been rumblings that balls aren’t carrying at Chase Field the way they once did now that the Diamondbacks are storing game balls in a humidor.

But you would have a hard time convincing Elieser Hernandez, Garcia and Brad Ziegler of that after they gave up a franchise-tying six home runs in Friday’s 9-1 beatdown.

It marked only the third time in team history that Marlins pitchers have served up six homers in one game. It also happened on June 29, 2003, against the Red Sox and July 4, 2008, against the Rockies.

Hernandez gave up three of the home runs, Garcia was responsible for two, and Ziegler was tagged for other.

Keep in mind, the Diamondbacks did all that in eight innings. They didn’t bat in the ninth.

The outing for Hernandez was his worst. The Rule 5 draft pick, who had not pitched above Single A before being acquired by the Marlins, was lifted after three innings.

"It's where I'm pitching in the major leagues and these guys don't miss when you make a mistake, and I made many tonight," Hernandez said.

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While the Marlins will be celebrating their 25th anniversary during next weekend’s home stand, this season also marks the 20th anniversary of a Marlins team that now bears noting.

Not that the 1998 Marlins are worth celebrating. They’re a team that many would rather forget.

But, entering Saturday, the 2018 Marlins were on pace to finish with 106 losses, which would leave them two shy of the franchise mark set by the infamous ’98 club.

Even if the current Marlins wind up with 100 losses, they would become only the third team to do so. The 2013 Marlins lost 100 games on the nose.

-- The Marlins on Saturday placed right-handed reliever Nick Wittgren on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised right middle finger. Wittgren deflected a ball off his hand in San Diego on Thursday. To fill Wittgren's roster spot, the Marlins recalled right-hander Tyler Cloyd from Triple A New Orleans.

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