TDG’s Triple Play: Miami Marlins!
The Triple Play is back for a fourth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Paul Monte and a rotating panel of writers. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
Pablo Lopez, Age: 25, Position: SP
Analysis by: Paul Monte
It was not even four years ago that Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman took over the Marlins. It wasn’t long after they took over that the fire sale began. Not only were stars Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich traded, but the scouting department and coaching staff were also gutted. It was a complete teardown and rebuild in Miami. The 2018 starting rotation consisted of “ace” Jose Urena, Dan Straily, Adam Conley, Dillon Peters, and a 22-year-old Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara has continued to solidify himself as the team’s ace, but he is not alone. Trevor Rogers is off to a great start in 2021 and Cody Poteet has come out of nowhere to post a few decent starts before injuring his knee. It has been the work of Pablo Lopez that has flown under the radar.
Signed by the Seattle Mariners in July 2012, Lopez hit the ground running as a 17-year-old before suffering an elbow injury and undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014. He returned in 2015 and steadily climbed the minor league ranks. He was traded to the Marlins in 2017 with three other players for David Phelps. He debuted a year later at just 22 years old. His numbers were average, nothing to be excited about his first two seasons in the league. He had a strikeout rate of just 7.5 per nine innings over his first two seasons to go with a 4.76 ERA and a 7-12 record.
2020 saw a big jump forward in the strikeout department, which led to a lowering of his ERA to just 3.61. It was a shortened season and there were just 57.1 innings pitched, but his K/9 was up to 9.3 and his other indicators showed that he deserved a better ERA. Looking back, I assumed the price was still low entering 2021 as he was just the 48th pitcher taken and the 131st player overall in NFBC drafts. He was drafted one slot ahead of teammate Sandy Alcantara. This was shocking to me because I traded for him in three dynasty leagues and the price was very soft. It may have been the difference in redraft ADP and dynasty value. He was ranked as the 55th starting pitcher here at TDG, again one spot above Alcantara.
Drafters have been pleased with their results so far. The K/9 has dropped slightly but still sits at 9.0 and the ERA has dropped even further to 3.12. It’s tough to see much more improvement, but that was also the sentiment entering the 2021 season. He has increased his changeup usage to 32.9% which means that is his most used pitch, followed closely by his four-seam fastball at 30.6% He also mixes in a cutter, sinker, and curveball, with all five pitches getting at least a 10% usage rate. This had led to near-elite levels of average exit velocity and chase rates. When contact is made, it is hit into the ground almost 50% of the time. At just 25 years old, if he can maintain his current performance and avoid injury he can be a solid SP3 for many years to come with the slight chance that he can hit SP2 levels.
Jazz Chisholm Jr, Age: 23, Position: 2B/SS
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
There’s no need to argue…
The Marlins offense is, how do you say, not exciting, and that appears to be by design. Their owner was a pretty boring player during his time, even while being part of winning teams in the Big Apple. I was yawning thinking about what hitter to look at for this week’s Triple Play: retreads Adam Duvall, Jesus Aguilar, Garrett Cooper? Uh, no thank you. The boringly named Brian Anderson or the too-old Starling Marte? Hard pass. Below them, ugh, I just couldn’t even keep my eyes open. What a blah group of hitters…until I came upon the only Marlin that excites me enough to write about (well, he is their leadoff hitter, so maybe I shouldn’t have started from the bottom, and now I’m…wait, wrong song). Furthermore, he is a worthwhile player for dynasty purposes, one Jazz Chisholm.
Parents just don’t understand…
That naming your son Jasrado Hermis Arrington Chisholm is going to allow him the coolest nickname this side of Miles Davis. Sporting some of the freshest blue hair in the game, Jazz is the current and future second baseman of the Marlins, and can fill in at shortstop in a pinch, as he has done already 23 times this season. Dual position eligibility? Check. Leadoff hitter for the past two months (and beyond)? Double-check. What’s not to like?
They don’t understand that us kids are gonna make some mistakes
After being acquired from the Diamondbacks for Zac Gallen on July 31, 2019, Jazz made his big-league debut last season, and it was not good. In 63 plate appearances he hit only two home runs and stole only two bases to compile a slash line of .161/.242/.321. Small sample size says hello! So going into the 2021 season, no one thought he was going to do much, even though he earned a starting job out of spring training, as he was the 481st player drafted in NFBC leagues this season.
Non-existent expectations led to him being undrafted in most leagues, and thus Jazz’s value was low entering 2021. As such, he was the six- or seven-hole hitter in that aforementioned vaunted Marlins lineup for the first month and he did not produce. In those annual leagues he was drafted in he was dropped pretty quickly. But then he was named the leadoff hitter, and things started to click. Jazz has five homers, seven steals and 37 runs plus RBI since taking over the leadoff spot. While he has been strikeout prone, Jazz has previously offset that with a high BABIP and elite sprint speed. What’s that they say, you can’t teach speed? As we enter an age where speed has become secondary to home runs, I want the guy doing both, especially at the keystone.
It is not all roses though, as his K-rate is still way too high at 31% and a .319 OBP needs improvement as a leadoff hitter. Similar numbers were found throughout Jazz’s minor league career, but those two stats need to improve for Jazz to be a top fantasy player.
So to all you kids across the land…
Check out another reason to be a fan; his Twitter presence, in which Jazz shows how fun he is, and should be the future face of the Marlins franchise. Second base has been and is consistently a fantasy wasteland, which is why I always recommend punting the position in yearly leagues and grabbing a couple as late-round picks, then adding the hot bat early in the season. This season, you could be rocking with Jazz or Cesar Hernandez or Jonathan Schoop, all doing way better than guys drafted much higher (Cavan Biggio, Keston Hiura, Mike Moustakas, I could go on but won’t). Jazz is a top-100 dynasty player, and had a 55 future value as a prospect, so if his manager in your league does not think so, make him an offer; it might take less than you think.
Nick Neidert, Age: 24, Position: SP, Level: Majors
Analysis by: Aaron Cumming
A second-round pick of the Mariners in 2015, Nick Neidert was traded to the Marlins as part of the return for Dee Gordon. He has been a solid performer in the minors, but a couple of underwhelming stints in MLB and the impressive organizational depth around him has caused him to be a bit overlooked. After dealing with COVID symptoms last year and an arm injury this year, Neidert is poised to step up and make an impact in the majors.
Everything Is Peachy
Drafted 60th overall out of a high school in Suwanee, GA, a city that has an entire section of its municipal website dedicated to the question: “Do I live in Suwanee, GA?”, Neidert quickly demonstrated his top-tier command. He had just a 6.7% walk rate in Rookie ball the year he was drafted, and then never topped 4.7% at any of the next three stops he made in the Seattle organization before being traded.
After the move to the Marlins, he used his wicked changeup and a uniquely deceptive delivery to bolster his strikeout rates, too. In 152.2 innings at Double-A in 2018, he posted a 25.3% K-rate to go with an excellent 5.1% BB-rate. In 2019, he battled various injuries, and suffered through a bout with COVID during 2020, making those essentially lost seasons for him.
Rub A Little Neidert On It
Neidert has suffered through some injuries and illnesses, but seems to be on the verge of a return to the majors. He is scheduled to make a rehab start on Saturday, and could rejoin the rotation in a matter of a few weeks. With excellent command, a low 90s fastball, and a phenomenal changeup, scouts are quick to compare him to everybody’s favorite “Kyle,” Cubs ace Hendricks. However, since Neidert has developed a slider that he can dot low and away to righties, I think his repertoire lines up better with everybody’s second favorite “Kyle,” Rangers ace Gibson. With Miami’s spacious home ballpark, and recent track record of success with young starting pitchers, Neidert is definitely worth a stash, and will likely be a solid contributor soon.
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