First Pitch: Why Marlins fans should've seen slow start to 2024 coming

Marlins fans should not be surprised that their team has gotten off to a brutal start to the 2024 campaign. Here's why.
Apr 16, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA;  Miami Marlins manager Skip Schumaker (45) watches from the
Apr 16, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins manager Skip Schumaker (45) watches from the / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps it's a bit premature to declare a season as over for any team before we even hit May, but I'm going to do just that with the Miami Marlins. Their season is over.

After losing three of the first four games in their series against the Washington Nationals on their home field, the Marlins enter play on Monday with a record of 6-23. Not only are they the worst team in the National League, but after the White Sox swept the Rays, they have the worst record in baseball.

For some fans, this comes as a major surprise considering the fact that Miami made the playoffs last season. Yet, it shouldn't have. Here are some reasons why Marlins fans should've seen their rough beginning to the 2024 campaign coming.

The Marlins' run to the 2023 postseason was as flukey as it gets

I really hate to call any team that is fortunate enough to make the playoffs in MLB a fluke because of how hard it is to do that in a 162-game season, but this Marlins run to the playoffs was as lucky as it could have been.

The Marlins made the postseason as a Wild Card team with a record of 84-78. I won't call them too lucky for that as the Diamondbacks made it with that same record in the NL, but when looking at the AL, there's already some luck involved as the 88-win Mariners did not make the cut.

Why the Marlins' run was a fluke and not the Diamondbacks who had the same amount of wins has a lot to do with run differential. Run differential is not and should not be considered the end-all-be-all when looking at which teams are lucky and/or unlucky as occasional blowouts can happen, but over 162 games it means a lot.

The Marlins had a -57 run differential. Of the teams that finished with a worse run differential, only the Tigers (78) and the Pirates (76) had more than 74 wins. Their expected win/loss record was 75-87 according to, and that is purely based on run differential. There were eight teams that finished with a better run differential than the Marlins and wound up with a worse record. That's hard to do.

The main reason Miami was able to win so many games despite that putrid run differential is because of their absurd record in one-run games. The Marlins went an unprecedented 33-14 in one-run affairs, which was by far the best in baseball. Only one team, the Reds, had more one-run wins last season, but they also had 15 more losses in those contests. The Marlins finished 19 games over .500 in matchups decided by one run while the next-best team, the Orioles, won 101 games and had a +129 run differential.

Expecting this team to somehow replicate that kind of unsustainable success was never going to end in a good result, and so far this season, they're 1-4 in one-run games.

The Marlins had one of the worst offenses in MLB last season and did nothing to get better

The Marlins ranked 26th in the majors with 666 runs scored last season. They ranked last among National League teams. The next lowest team to make the playoffs was the Milwaukee Brewers who were 17th in runs scored and had an outstanding pitching staff and manager leading them. Making it to the playoffs despite that anemic offense is an accomplishment that they should be proud of, but again, it was unreasonable to expect that to carry over into 2024 when they did nothing to improve it.

Miami did see some sort of improvement last season after acquiring players like Jake Burger and Josh Bell who both performed at a high level in Marlins uniforms, but they were only 22nd in runs scored from August 1 through the end of the regular season. When matched up against elite starters in the postseason, all they could muster up was two runs in two games.

The best player Miami added this past winter was Tim Anderson, a former batting champion and a two-time All-Star, but he had an abysmal 2023 campaign with the White Sox. So far this season he's hitting .223 as their regular shortstop with a .525 OPS entering play on Monday.

They added Christian Bethancourt as well, a strong defensive catcher who hadn't done much of anything offensively. He has one hit -- a single -- in 30 at-bats this season and has a .098 OPS. I wish that was a typo. In fact, Marlins catchers have eight hits in 93 at-bats (.091 BA) and have a -31 WRC+ according to FanGraphs entering play on Monday. Again, I wish that was a typo. Expecting Christian Bethancourt to change anything offensively was a mistake.

What makes matters worse is they lost their best power bat, Jorge Soler, who hit 36 home runs last season and was a free agent for the longest time, and also traded away Jon Berti, a player who had a 102 OPS+ last season, right before Opening Day.

Miami's most expensive addition had a 61 OPS+ last season, and they lost two of their best hitters. Shockingly, their offense has been just as bad, if not worse this season. Miami enters play on Monday ranked 27th in runs scored and tied for 27th in home runs. Playing half the time at Marlins Park doesn't help, but outside of players like Luis Arraez and Burger, this is such an underwhelming offensive team.

Doing nothing to improve what was a bad offensive team last season with no farm system to speak of was never going to result in this team having any sort of success on that front. We've seen it so far this season, and it could even get worse.

The Marlins made no effort to improve the bullpen

A big reason that the Marlins were able to win so many one-run games had to do with their bullpen, particularly Tanner Scott, shutting it down. He only recorded 12 saves after being thrust into the closer role later in the season, but he had by far his best season with a 2.31 ERA and a 4.33 K/BB ratio. A big reason Scott was able to have as much success as he did last season was that he reduced his walk rate from 14.2% to 7.8% in 2023. So far this season he has walked 12 batters in 10.2 innings pitched. Regression of that magnitude was not the expectation, but regression in some form was, since he had command issues for the vast majority of his eight-year career. Scott enters play on Monday with an 0-4 record thanks to his struggles.

The Marlins lost David Robertson and Steven Okert over the offseason, both big pieces of their bullpen even if they weren't outstanding, and replaced them with nothing. They were 21st in MLB in bullpen ERA last season and were tied for seventh with 28 blown saves. Their bullpen was an issue even with Scott and Andrew Nardi having career years, and all they did was lose important members of it.

Unsurprisingly, the Marlins bullpen has been abysmal this season. They rank 25th in ERA and are tied for the MLB lead with eight blown saves. Those eight blown saves have come in just 12 save opportunities. The few times that MIami has had leads, they've been unable to hold them thanks to their anemic offense being unable to tack on, and their abysmal bullpen blowing games.

There are still some pieces to be excited about, mainly on the starting pitching side, but they're all injured. It's really hard to find a silver lining with this team. The sooner they start their firesale, the better.