If J.T. Realmuto is the next Marlins cornerstone out the door, he's helping Miami get maximum value.
Realmuto, the 27-year-old catcher who has been the subject of trade chatter since essentially the start of the season, blasted a tiebreaking home run in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday, lifting the Marlins past the nosediving Dodgers 6-5.
Remarkably, L.A. and Miami head into Thursday's series finale with the same record (16-26) — even though the Dodgers' payroll dwarfs the Marlins'.
But Miami has been getting by recently with surprising starting pitching, and Elieser Hernandez — a Rule 5 pickup by the Marlins making his first career start — was just the latest.
Hernandez took Jarlin Garcia’s spot in the rotation, as Don Mattingly wants to keep a lid on the 25-year-old lefty’s usage early on. Hernandez made the most of the opportunity, scattering three hits over five innings; the only run he allowed came on a fourth-inning home run by Yasmani Grandal.
"The kid was good today," Mattingly said. "That was good to see. It was kind of what we've seen in spring training. He's a work in progress but he will challenge the strike zone and come after guys. It's good to see."
Added Hernandez in Spanish, via a team translator: "At the beginning, I was kind of nervous out there, but once I got into rhythm, it kind of settled me down. I just reminded myself that I've just got to go out there and compete and limit my mistakes."
Hernandez left with a four-run lead. It took Miami's bullpen all of one-third of an inning to squander it all.
Relievers Junichi Tazawa and Drew Steckenrider combined to allow four runs on five hits in a dreadful sixth inning.
The game was tied when Realmuto strode to the plate in the bottom half of the inning. That changed in a big way when deposited an 86-mile-per-hour changeup from Pedro Baez over Marlins Park's left-center field fence.
"J.T.'s homer was big from the standpoint of grabbing momentum right back," Mattingly said.
▪ Marlins first baseman Justin Bour hit his ninth home run of the season Wednesday. Second baseman Starlin Castro tied a career high with four hits.
▪ Mattingly said the Marlins should be "four or five games better" than their record: "We've had to chances to win games. ... Hopefully we're going to continue to improve."