Well, here we are. The Marlins are 2/3s of the way through the shortened COVID-19 style 2020 MLB season. They are sitting at 20-19 and are currently in the playoffs as a Wild Card and closing in on a top 2 divisional finish. It’s happening, but how? How have the Marlins gone from one of the worst teams in baseball to this? Can this team win in the playoffs?
A (shortened) Marlins season in review
From the first pitch of 2020, something seemed different. This team has survived a week off from COVID-19, almost half the roster being sidelined by COVID-19, and 100+ roster moves. And we still sit above .500 through 39 games. Since their early 7-1 start, the Marlins have been performing quite the balancing act around that .500 mark. To make the playoffs this year, they don’t need much more, so that is more than fine in the long run.
Amazing pitching (now and future)
The starters, when healthy, can compete with anyone in the league which is something the Marlins haven’t seen in what feels like a decade and a half. The 5-man punch of Sixto Sanchez, Pablo Sanchez, Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, and Elieser Hernandez is scary right now. Just imagine 5 years. The bullpen of wily vets has been able to get the job done minus the exception of a few games in which they had no rest. The team has an ERA of 4.63, but if we exclude the 29 run slugfest in Atlanta, it is much more reasonable, reaching a rank of top 5 in the NL (7th with that game factored in).
The bats aren’t the strongest, and the lack of pop is most likely the main reason this team’s record is not way over the mark of .500. What has allowed this team to thrive, however, is their ability to hit with 2-outs. There are a handful of examples to choose from, but the two that top the list are 1. Starling Marte’s bases-clearing game-tying double in the 8th inning last night and 2. Jorge Alfaro’s walk-off single in the 9th inning last night. The team as a whole has struggled to play small ball and move runners over, especially when there are not 2-outs in the inning which is definitely something to keep an eye on. If the Marlins can start combining stellar pitching, small ball, and clutch 2-out hitting, the possibilities are endless.
Speaking of possibilities for Marlins
Now, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but… The Marlins have made the playoffs twice. They have won the World Series twice. They were Wild Cards both of those years. We are Wild Cards now. Obviously this is a stretch, but can these Marlins make a deep run give the chance? Yes. I know that this take is extremely premature, and would probably hold validity in 2-3 years, but why couldn’t they? The Marlins have stellar pitching, especially out of the starting rotation. In a 5 game series against those 5 guys aforementioned, I don’t think there is any way the Marlins don’t put up a fight. If they fix some of the minor issues and continue playing like the family they are, there is no reason that an energized young Marlins team led by veterans can’t make it far in the playoffs. This is all speculation, but something to keep in mind. The most important thing is that this Marlins team is young, energetic, and going to be competing for many years to come.
Why not us this year?
Christian Chase Jr. (@ChaseChrisJr) attends the University of Florida. His regular columns are sponsored by SafeCubbies.com