Year 1 of the Derek Jeter era ended Sunday.
And the end couldn’t come soon enough for the Marlins, who can now put this dreadful season behind them after going down to defeat in a 1-0 closing day loss to the New York Mets to finish with the worst record in the National League.
The Marlins will be picking fourth overall in next summer’s amateur draft, and that’s the top takeaway on a tortuously difficult season under new ownership that contained few positives.
The team’s final record of 63-98 came as little to no surprise to anyone. Las Vegas sports books had pegged the Marlins for 64 wins.
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“I think we had a pretty good idea what we were in for,” said third-year manager Don Mattingly before the Marlins came up empty, suffering back-to-back shutout losses to the Mets to close out the season.
The lowest-scoring team in the NL failed to produce a single run over their final 24 innings, and Mattingly cited the lack of run producers as the greatest need going forward.
“The last two days were kind of indicative,” Mattingly said. “We go 21 innings, give up two runs, and don’t win either game.”
The Marlins gave up one run in each of the three games of the series yet lost two of the three.
For the season, the rebuilding Marlins were outscored by 220 runs, the second-worst run differential in the majors, which hardly came as a major surprise given how much talent they unloaded last offseason when they traded Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon.
“If you can’t score, you’re not going to win games,” Mattingly said. “You can’t count on your pitching to shut people out on a daily basis.”
The Marlins did their best to do that in the in their final series of the season, allowing only three total runs to the Mets. But after winning the opener 8-1 on Friday, they dropped a pair of 1-0 decisions.
On Sunday, rookie Sandy Alcantara struck out a career-high 10 batters, allowing only a fourth-inning run on Todd Frazier’s RBI double. But the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard was even better, recording the first shutout of the season by a Mets pitcher. Syndergaard held the Marlins to five hits.
It is difficult to make too much of either pitching performances. As is often the case with season-ending games involving two also-rans, hitters showed little patience at the plate, swinging at most everything near the strike zone. The game was completed in a brisk two hours and 10 minutes.
But, for Alcantara, the outing was a far cry from his previous two starts when he failed to make it past the fourth inning in either. He lasted seven innings on Sunday.
“There’s nothing monumental that happened today, other than this guy has a chance to be a really good pitcher,” Mattingly said of Alcantara. “And consistency’s going to be the key. Can he come up with that intensity and that aggressiveness 33 times. You can do it now and then. You can do it if the matchup works good, your stuff’s good that day. But can you do that every five days. And that’s what a top-of-the-line pitcher looks like. They give you a good outing basically every time they walk out on the mound.”
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