The Miami Marlins have their hands full this season. Thanks the to the coronavirus and the bickering over money between billionaire owners and millionaire players, MLB plans on just a 60 game season. The Marlins 2020 schedule has them playing strictly in the East region. They’ll face their NL East rivals, as well as their AL East counterparts.
Here’s a look at 5 Takeaways for the Marlins 2020 Schedule.
Marlins 2020 Schedule: A Sprint, not a Marathon
Normally, the MLB season feels like a marathon. The 162-game slate stretches from late March to early October most years and has teams crisscrossing the nation. This year, though, a truncated 60-game sprint to the playoffs faces each squad. And for the Marlins, this has both advantages and drawbacks.
The advantages are clear: it’s a pennant race right from the start. The Marlins are tied for first late in July for the first time perhaps ever. Despite a pair of World Series victories, Miami has never won the NL East. In recent years, by late July the team had been mired in the cellar or struggling for a wild card berth.
The 60-game sprint introduces a level of uncertainty unseen in previous seasons.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly recently said: “In a 162-game schedule, the best teams usually win. Those are the teams with depth and over the long haul things even out. But in a 60-game season, there’s a lot of momentum. You go 8-4 out of the gate, you’ve played 20 percent of your season, and you put pressure on teams.”
“Everybody has a chance in this scenario,” Mattingly said, and players have echoed that sentiment with a “Why Not Us” refrain.
The NL East is No Joke
Part of what makes the Marlins 2020 schedule such a gauntlet is that they’re part of the NL East. The division sports three teams that were above .500 and another at .500 in 2019. Other than the Marlins, who were a dismal 57-105, the other teams in the division averaged 89 wins for the year.
The Atlanta Braves won the division with a 97-65 record, but lost in the Divisional Series 3-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Washington Nationals secured a Wild Card, then proceeded to win the entire tournament.
Miami will face their NL East counterparts 40 times in 2020. Last season, the Marlins posted a 24-52 record against the NL East. Their only winning mark came versus Philadelphia (10-9), who they’ll start with in 2020. The Marlins had losing records against Atlanta (4-15), the Mets (6-13) and Washington (4-15).
The defending champion Nationals may have lost their MVP candidate (Anthony Rendon), but they still sport three aces. The Braves built a strong team with stars. And both the Phillies and the Mets are in win-now mode.
The Marlins will play 86.7% of their games (52 of 60) against teams that were .500 or better last season.
That’s the highest pct of games vs .500+ teams from the prior season in the Divisional Era (since 1969).
Previous highest: 1970 Padres, 85.2%
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) July 7, 2020
AL East Ain’t Much Easier
With MLB’s regional setup for the schedule, Miami also has to face the AL East. 20 of their 60 games will be against their interleague counterparts.
In 2019, Tampa Bay swept the Marlins (0-4). The Rays won 96 games and sport three aces of their own. Miami will face the Rays six times in 2020, on August 28-30 in Miami then September 4-6 in St. Petersburg. Over the last two seasons, the Marlins are 4-6 versus Tampa Bay, but 56-61 all-time.
For the rest of the AL East, the Marlins’ll see Baltimore and Toronto four times apiece, while facing the Red Sox and Yankees three times each. The Yankees have the deepest roster in the AL. Oh, and after winning 103 games, they added Gerrit Cole, who’s coming off a 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326-strikeout season.
“We know that the National League East is a bear of a division and the American League East is equally as difficult division,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said recently, “and I guess if you look at just from winning percentages from 2019, we’re going to face the toughest schedule. We know it’s going to be a battle.”
Marlins 2020 Schedule: Opening 12 Games
Marlins manager Don Mattingly noted recently that once you’re through the first 12 games of the season, you’ve completed 20 percent of the schedule. That fact alone makes the start of the season integral for any team with postseason aspirations.
For Miami, only four of the first 12 are on the road. They open on July 24th in Philadelphia for a three-game series with the Phillies. In 2019, the Marlins beat Philadelphia 10 times, so they’ll look for similar success this year. From there, they come home for two against the Orioles. Then they travel to Baltimore for two more. In 2018, the Marlins went 2-1 versus Baltimore and hold a whopping 22-8 record against them all-time.
The Marlins return home for a three-game series versus Washington. Miami was a dismal 4-15 versus the Nationals last season. Afterwards, they welcome the Phillies to town for three more games.
Realistically, the Marlins need to target eight wins in their first 12. It’ll be hugely important to bank wins early, so they can ride some of that momentum through mid-August. Eight wins early might mean they have a shot at 20 by the end of August.
“We need to win every game. You got to play like you’re gonna win every game,” Mattingly said of the team’s mindset for 2020. “Every game is important, every play is important, every out is important, and just go after it in that way.”
Marlins 2020 Schedule: Final 12 Games
The true gauntlet for the Marlins 2020 schedule comes in the waning days of the truncated regular season. Miami will close the 2020 campaign with a 7-game road trip through Atlanta and the Bronx. The Marlins’ final 12 games will come against teams that won 84, 93, 97 and 103 games in 2019. Three of those four were playoff teams.
Should the Marlins be in position to make the postseason, their final 12 will force them to earn their spot. There won’t be any backing into the playoffs this season.
Miami has the Braves on their schedule for 10 games in 2020, but their final series will be a four-game set in Atlanta. They were 4-15 versus the Braves with a minus-33 run differential in 2019.
The last series of the year will come in New York versus the Yankees. Historically, Miami has played well versus the Yankees, 13-15 all-time and 4-2 in the 2003 World Series.
The Marlins longest homestead of the season will come in September, overlapping these final 12 games. It’s a 10-game, 11-day stretch that could prove to be the make-or-break homestead of the year.
Brand new ballgame. pic.twitter.com/YIk75Hskk3
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 6, 2020