8/19/2014 7:30 P.M. ET
Bullpen has enjoyed turnaround since Morris deal
By Joe Frisaro and Maria Torres / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Marlins relievers have come a long way from the 3.25 ERA they posted in the first half.
Since the All-Star break, Miami's bullpen has been one of the stingiest in the Majors. Its 2.08 second-half ERA ranked fourth in baseball entering play on Tuesday.
The relief corps has also recorded five wins, no losses and a National League-leading 20 holds, with the Braves and Nationals behind them at 17.
"Look at what they've done this month in crunch time," manager Mike Redmond said. "This is the time of the year where you need your bullpen and you need those guys to really step up, and they've certainly done that."
Part of the bullpen's stability, Redmond said, is due to the June 1 arrival of Bryan Morris. When the Marlins acquired Morris from Pittsburgh, their bullpen had struggled to pitch consistently, holding a 4.04 ERA on June 2.
So the Marlins hoped Morris' experience -- he was was part of a 2013 Pirates relief corps that was third in the Majors with a 2.89 ERA -- would help fortify the back end of the 'pen. And if the 2.88 ERA relievers have put up since June 2 is anything to go by, Morris did exactly what the team wanted.
The Marlins now have a 3.36 ERA for the season, which is good enough for sixth in the National League.
"Things are much better now," Redmond said. "Having Morris here has helped a lot. He's been a huge part of that bullpen, I think maybe stabilized our bullpen."
But Redmond also pointed out that Sam Dyson and Chris Hatcher have been just as important, especially in multiple-inning situations.
"Having [Dyson and Hatcher] down there that can pitch multiple innings early or late in the game is a huge weapon to have, whether it's righties, lefties," Redmond said. "Truly has been a team effort, and those guys have done a nice job getting the ball to [closer Steve] Cishek to give him the chance to save ballgames. That's what it's all about."
Samson eager for MLB to address pace of game
MIAMI -- Improving the pace of games is a top priority for MLB's next Commissioner, Rob Manfred, and it is an issue Marlins president David Samson is passionate about.
To grow the sport locally, nationally and internationally, Samson says, it is imperative that games speed up.
"Pace of game is my No. 1 issue," Samson said. "Commissioner-elect Manfred has stated, unequivocally, that he understands and supports the fact we must make changes in the pace of game. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when, and the changes have to be substantive.
"We want to get younger, and the Commissioner-elect Manfred is committed to that. If that's going to happen, you must address the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The 800-pound gorilla is pace of game, period. All other things come from that.
"No one watches 3 1/2-hour games. You just can't have that. When you talk about the World Cup craze that happened, the interesting part about the World Cup is, you made an investment of one hour, 40 minutes, and you see a World Cup game. If you're over one hour, 40 minutes, you're in extra time, or you're in penalty kicks."
One way to speed things up, Samson says, is awarding batters first base on intentional walks, rather than having four pitches thrown.
Other suggestions are to reduce the amount of time batters step out of the box between pitches. And getting pitchers to hurry up throwing the ball.
"In baseball, you can invest 3 1/2 hours, and see a nine-inning game, 4-2," Samson said. "We're not about to achieve our goal of making our demographics younger by not changing that fact.
"Instant replay has to be adjusted, and will be adjusted for pace of game issues, in terms of how long it takes a manager to decide, and how long it takes for New York to decide. That, to me, has to be addressed."
Marlins fan helps Stanton take Ice Bucket Challenge
MIAMI -- Marlins Park has been the site of several ALS Ice Bucket Challenges over the last week. A handful of players (including Casey McGehee and Steve Cishek), manager Mike Redmond and even team president David Samson have all dumped ice over themselves in an effort to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The challenge that drew the most attention, though, took place on Tuesday, when Giancarlo Stanton executed his bid differently.
Instead of doing it himself after closer Steve Cishek issued him a challenge, Stanton and the Marlins announced a contest in which the highest-bidding fan would get the opportunity to do the ice-dumping for him.
The winner was Andrew Mendez, a life-long Marlins follower who was happy just to get the chance to meet Stanton.
"At the end of the day, it's for a good cause," said Mendez, whose $4,551 benefited the ALS Recovery Fund. "I can always say I dumped a bucket of ice water on Stanton."
After the ice was dumped on him, Stanton realized he hadn't challenged anybody else to do it. So he'll match Mendez's donation to make up for it.
"What I thought about it was do something a little different than just the video and help contribute, and I'm glad I could be a part of it," Stanton said. "Good thing the roof's partially open, so [it was] not too bad."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.