It didn’t take long for Skip Schumaker to sum up how the Miami Marlins fared in their series against the New York Mets.
Miami dropped two of three games to New York — falling 2-1 Monday and 8-3 Wednesday while winning in 4-3 in walk-off fashion Tuesday — to cap a stretch of 16 games in 16 days in the midst of a push for a playoff spot.
“We didn’t play really well this series,” Schumaker said postgame Wednesday. “That’s just the bottom line. Bad timing.”
The Marlins’ saving grace: The Marlins held their own over the earlier portion of this extended stretch of playing time without a day off and is still firmly in the National League wild card race.
Overall, Miami went 9-7 in this 16-game stretch, which included series wins over three playoff teams — sweeping the Atlanta Braves and taking two of three games against both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies — while also dropping series against the Mets and Milwaukee Brewers.
The Marlins enter Thursday’s off day — one of two left for Miami in the regular season — with a 79-74 record, a half-game behind the Chicago Cubs for the NL’s third wild-card spot with nine games left on the schedule.
FanGraphs on Thursday has the Marlins with a 45.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Alcantara starting rehab assignment
Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara is scheduled to start a rehab assignment with the Triple A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp on Thursday.
Alcantara has sidelined since his Sept. 3 start against the Washington Nationals with a right UCL sprain. He began playing catch Sept. 13 and threw a pair of bullpens in Miami over the past week.
Johnny Cueto to the bullpen
Johnny Cueto’s role is changing once again.
For the immediate future, the veteran right-handed pitcher will be throwing out of the bullpen.
Schumaker used Cueto for mop-up duty in Wednesday’s loss to the Mets. Cueto pitched the final two innings, entering with the Marlins down 6-2 and giving up a pair of home runs to Brett Baty and Brandon Nimmo.
“Once we were down a ways,” Schumaker said, “that’s when we went to Johnny.”
Cueto’s first season with the Marlins has been one mostly to forget. He pitched just one inning in the first half before being sidelined by injury. He made two solid outings upon his return, giving up one run over nine innings, but has struggled since (a 6.81 ERA in 37 innings over his past eight outings — seven starts and his two-inning relief stint Wednesday)
Schumaker added Cueto will pitch out of the bullpen “for the next couple games and then we’ll see where he’s at.”
With that, the Marlins will use a to-be-determined opener when they start a three-game series against the Brewers on Friday, which was Cueto’s scheduled day to start.
Jake Burger update
Marlins third baseman Jake Burger left Wednesday’s game against the Mets with right quad tightness. He experienced the injury while trying to field a throw from right fielder Jesus Sanchez on a play that ultimately resulted in a pair of throwing errors and set up two Mets runs.
“The initial lunge for the ball, before it got by me, is when I felt it,” Burger said. “It just tightened up. It sucks but I’ll do everything I can to be good on Friday.”
Burger has played in all 45 of the Marlins’ games since he was acquired at the Aug. 1 trade deadline from the Chicago White Sox, hitting .308 with eight home runs, 12 doubles, 24 RBI and 25 runs scored.
Jupiter Hammerheads win championship
While the Marlins continue to push for a playoff berth at the MLB level, one of their minor-league affiliates has already won a championship.
The Jupiter Hammerheads, Miami’s Single A affiliate, won the its first-ever Florida State League championship with a 7-4 win over the Clearwater Threshers (the Philadelphia Phillies’ affiliate) on Wednesday in a winner-take-all Game 3. Jupiter also won Game 1 of the series 8-7 on Sunday before dropping the middle game 3-1 on Tuesday.
The Hammerheads swept a series with the Palm Beach Cardinals last week to advance to the championship series.
Seven of the Marlins’ top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline play for Jupiter: Pitchers Noble Meyer, Thomas White, Jacob Miller and Juan De La Cruz; outfielder Kemp Alderman and infielders Brock Vradenburg and Ian Lewis.
Four of those seven players were Marlins selections in the 2023 MLB Draft: first-round pick Meyer (Marlins No. 1 prospect, MLB No. 55), competitive balance pick White (Marlins No. 2), second-round pick Alderman (Marlins No. 9) and third-round pick Vradenburg (Marlins No. 10).
Miller (Marlins No. 13) was Miami’s second-round pick in 2022, while De La Cruz and Lewis were international free agent signings.
From the group, Alderman was one of Jupiter’s main standouts at the plate, hitting .313 (5 for 16) with a .478 on-base percentage and .563 slugging mark. He hit two doubles and one triple and led the Hammerheads in the playoffs with six walks and five runs scored. He also had three RBI.
On the mound, Meyer threw 5 2/3 shutout innings over his two starts, giving up just one hit and striking out five while walking four.