The Fish that is Frying the Marlins Playoff Chances

After being acquired to help the Miami Marlins make their playoff push, David Robertson has been nothing short of a disaster closing games.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 30: David Robertson #19 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning of the game at loanDepot park on July 30, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Let me start off by saying this, Kim Ng has done a masterful job at putting this Marlins roster together. All of her moves have been well-documented through recent stories on our site, as they have proven to be beneficial for this ball clubs incredible progression from one year to the next.

The issue is that, no matter how much good she has done, everyone will point to the one move that has done far more harm than it has good.

There is not a kind way to put it. David Robertson has been terrible since he was acquired by the Marlins at the deadline. In a season where the Mets are not doing a lot of winning on the field, it does seem as if they sure did win this move against their intra-division rival. What makes it worse is that, when the trade happened, a lot of Marlins fans were jumping for joy.

To be fair, Robertson had been labeled as the best high-leverage right-handed reliever available at the deadline. Prior to being traded, Robertson had a 2.09 ERA with a 3.69 FIP and a 1.05 HR/FB rate. Now, since the trade, his ERA has been 7.20, averaging over 5 BB/9 and sporting a 6.17 FIP.

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Trade Details

The full trade was as follows:

RHP David Robertson was traded to the Miami Marlins for 18-year-old infielder Marco Vargas and switch-hitting catcher Ronald Hernandez.

At the time of the deal, many wondered how a rental reliever could net the Mets two prospects, granted very young, who were performing at the levels in which they were at the Marlins Complex Level. Robertson was also still due approximately $3.5 million, which the Marlins agreed to absorb completely.

What Do the Marlins Do Now?

On the surface, to the part of the fan base that does not pay too much attention to their team’s Minor League system, it was a “fleecing” by the Marlins. In many cases, only having to give up two low-level prospects for a back-end of the bullpen arm would be considered a great deal for the team acquiring the Major League player.

This has not been one of those cases.

Mets fans have, rightfully, been upset with the direction the team decided to go at this year’s deadline. Acquiring two teenagers that, if they were lucky, wouldn’t impact the Major League roster for another three years at best just did not fly with the fanbase. However, once they became aware of the talent level of these two young prospects, their feelings quickly turned. They now realized that they were the side that won the deal, especially with just how bad Robertson has been in Miami.

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The most alarming part is that David Robertson has actually been the worst pitcher since the trade deadline in all of Major League Baseball.

Yes, it has actually been that bad.

Oh. They also finally decided to make the move from him as their closer after his latest ninth inning blow up on Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

It isn’t often that rental high-leverage relievers are traded at the deadline, and end up fairing well for the team acquiring them.

To date, the most recent rental move, that ultimately helped a team not only make the playoffs but win the World Series, was back in 2017 when the Chicago Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees.

In return, the Yankees got a three-player package headlined by their current starting second baseman Gleyber Torres, who was the Cubs number one prospect at the time of the trade.

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While these trades rarely work out, there was optimism surrounding Robertson because he was literally in this exact same position last year. The Philadelphia Phillies acquire Robertson as a rental reliever at the trade deadline and help them make a Wild Card and ultimately make a push to the World Series.

Robertson was not tasked with being the primary closer, but did pitch to a 2.70 ERA in 22 regular season appearances with the Phillies, before allowing just one run across seven postseason appearances. He worked four scoreless appearances in the World Series.

The Marlins were looking to solidify the back-end of the bullpen as they propelled forward in the National League Wild Card race, and were willing to trade two of their system’s top-hitting prospects in order to do so.

Marlins fans can only sit back and have flashbacks to a similar situation in 2016 when the team traded arguably their highest-upside right-handed pitching prospect Chris Paddack to the San Diego Padres for an expiring Fernando Rodney when they felt they were close to competing for a playoff spot.

This trade has not amounted to much of the expectations that this fan base had at the time of the deal. Robertson has blown three of his seven save opportunities and has given up runs in four of his nine appearances with Miami.

The Marlins are hoping Robertson can regain the confidence that he had in New York and work his way back into the closer role down the stretch, or at least provide some value in a set-up role.

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The big issue is that the clock is running out. Heading into August 28th, the Marlins are currently sitting 3.0 games back of the final Wild Card spot in the National League. They are also coming off a series against the surging Nationals where they lost two of three.

This season has been full of fun and excitement for a fan base that has been waiting for this moment since their last true postseason run in 2003, when they won the World Series. The expectations for this team have skyrocketed as the season progressed. As we inch closer towards the end, the Marlins can only hope to dig up one more surge to catapult themselves into the 2023 postseason.