10/01/12 7:05 PM ET
Lack of situational hitting pivotal to last-place finish
By Joe Frisaro and Tom Green / MLB.com
Over the course of the season, the Marlins have had lapses in hitting, pitching and defense. They've let leads slip away late in games, and failed to knock in runs when the opposition is giving it to them.
To manager Ozzie Guillen, the most glaring weakness of the team has been hitting with runners in scoring position. The team simply underperformed in that aspect of their situational hitting.
"This year, you could put a lot of points on why we lost -- a lot, starting with me," Guillen said. "But I think the thing that killed this ballclub from April all the way to now is we don't bring the guys in for easy RBIs.
"That's something we got to work on in Spring Training, something we have to get better at, because if we don't get better at that, we'll be in last place again."
For the season, the Marlins are batting .234 with runners in scoring position, which ranks 26th in the Majors. The Braves rank last in the Majors with runners in scoring position, at .231, but Atlanta ranks in the middle of the pack (15th) in runs scored with 694.
The Marlins have scored 600 runs, which is 28th in the game. Only the Mariners (597) and Astros (573) have scored fewer.
Miami's lineup, of course, has been depleted. The team traded away Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante in July. And regulars like Emilio Bonifacio and Logan Morrison have been out with injuries.
Giancarlo Stanton, the club's biggest threat, has also missed substantial time.
"Right now, we don't have a great hitting ballclub," Guillen said. "But if every day, at least once a day we do what we're supposed to do, it might be the difference between 10 games, five games, six games. We got to get better at [runners in scoring position]."
Johnson finishes encouraging rebound season
MIAMI -- After missing most of last season with right shoulder inflammation, Josh Johnson had a couple of personal goals heading into the season, one of which was making every one of his scheduled starts.
The Marlins righty fell one start shy of that goal after he was scratched from Monday's series opener against the Mets due to what manager Ozzie Guillen described as a sore hip flexor and hamstring.
"JJ is done," Guillen said. "The last game he was very sore. ... I think we should shut him down. I don't think it's worth it."
Guillen said the injury isn't serious, and that if the Marlins were in playoff contention that there's "no doubt" Johnson would have been able to pitch. However, with the Marlins in the National League East cellar, Guillen didn't want to take the risk. Instead, left-hander Wade LeBlanc made his ninth start of the year.
Johnson finished his season 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA in 31 starts a year after making just nine starts. He was 8 2/3 innings shy of reaching the 200-innings mark for the second time in his career. He threw 209 innings in 2009.
He pitched better than his record showed, as he got just 2.92 runs of support per nine innings, the lowest in the Majors among pitchers with at least 30 starts.
"For me, to have this kid out there every start without missing any start or having a setback, to me it was a very, very good season for him," Guillen said.
Johnson, the Marlins' Opening Day starter, may have had a down year, statistically, but he was quite effective at Marlins Park. In 17 starts, he had a 2.96 ERA and struck out a team-high 100 in 109 1/3 innings, matching Mark Buehrle's innings pitched at home.
Guillen expects an even better year from Johnson in '13.
"Now that I've managed him a year and now that he's a year healthy, I expect a lot better from him, but I expect a lot better from my ballclub, too, to help him to win games," Guillen said. "JJ was very bad in the beginning. ... I think after the first three starts, he threw the ball well.
"Hopefully we don't have to go through rehab to deal with this the whole winter, and he shows up in Spring Training ready to go and we see a better pitcher."
Buehrle's season ends after 31 starts, 200-plus innings
MIAMI -- For Mark Buehrle, it's 31 and done.
The Marlins are shutting Buehrle down after 31 starts. The veteran lefty initially was slated to start on Wednesday in the season finale against the Mets at Marlins Park.
He lefty finished with 202 1/3 innings.
Buehrle, one of the most durable starters in the game for more than a decade, is being shut down. Not due to injury or any ailment, but because there is not much need to throw him out there after he threw eight innings last Friday in a no-decision against the Phillies.
Buehrle finishes the season with a 13-13 record and a 3.74 ERA. For 12 straight years, he reached at least 10 wins and 200 innings.
"I told you guys in Spring Training what he was," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This kid gives you everything on the field. The last time he was on the field, he tried to grab something he didn't have. He tried to win it."
Buehrle gave up one run on six hits with eight strikeouts in his last start.
Who will replace Buehrle, Guillen said, "is up in the air."
The team is considering starting reliever Chad Gaudin and following him up with prospect Tom Koehler.
"We've talked about it the last couple of games," Guillen said.
Buehrle was prepared to take the ball on Wednesday, if needed. But he wanted an answer, because it factors into his preparation. Had he still been ready to go, he would have had to go through his regular between-starts routine.
"He asked me, if we needed him to pitch," Guillen said. "But he'd rather not. He said, 'My bullets are very low right now.' I don't want to start a guy for one inning, two innings for no reason."
Greenberg's dream at-bat to come on Tuesday
MIAMI -- Adam Greenberg will get his chance for his "one at-bat" with the Marlins on Tuesday. It just won't come in the first inning, as Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen suggested last week.
Guillen toyed with the idea of starting Greenberg, who was hit in the back of the head in his only Major League plate appearance seven years ago, in the outfield and then having him hit leadoff in the first inning to get that at-bat. However, Guillen said Monday that Greenberg won't start and will instead likely pinch-hit in the middle of the game.
"I think it was a good idea to lead him off, but it was a little bit bigger deal than I thought," Guillen said. "We're going to try to put him in the middle of the game to see how it works."
Greenberg's quest to get his big league at-bat is being documented by filmmaker Matt Liston, who has been spearheading the campaign to get Greenberg another opportunity. Guillen wants to help Greenberg, 31, fulfill his dream, but the Marlins skipper still wants to manage to win the game.
"Hopefully we can have it be for a pitcher, but I'm not going to pinch-hit him for the pitcher just because," Guillen said. "If I need a base hit to take the lead or something, then I'll figure out another inning. I'm going to manage to win the game. I'll figure out how to play him, but if there's the game on the line, I'm going to manage to win the game.
"I've lost a lot, but I'm going to win one. That's the way we're going to look at it. We shouldn't have any problems."
Guillen supports Gio for Cy Young
MIAMI -- With the top three candidates for the National League Cy Young Award all residing in the National League East, Ozzie Guillen has seen plenty of each pitcher this season. So who would the Marlins manager cast his vote for between Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez, Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel?
"Wow. It's hard," Guillen said. "It's a very tough one, but I'll say Gio, because I've known Gio for a long time and he's from Miami. I want people from Miami to be on my side. ... It's going to be tough. The kid from Atlanta has Nintendo numbers, it's unbelievable. You got to look at it, like 'really?' Dickey, I think, 20 games with a second-to-last-place team. He did it himself, [has] a great history and a knuckleballer. You don't see that often, it could be the one shot of his life.
"All you guys that got a vote, you have a tough job to do. ... No matter who you pick, you're not going to be wrong."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.