The Miami Marlins are still hopeful they can make the playoffs in 2014. But looking ahead, the squad now knows what 2015 will look like.
Miami's 2015 schedule was released earlier in the week, and as MLB.com's Joe Frisaro pointed out, the Marlins will be tested early.
Miami on Monday announced the tentative 2015 schedule, and it won't take long to see how the vastly improved Marlins stack up in their division, as they play 19 of their 22 April games against NL East rivals.
As the Marlins anticipate a coinsistent offense and the return of Jose Fernandez, here are some highlights and things to watch for.
Miami and the AL East
Miami was among baseball's best teams in interleague play this season, and the Marlins 2015 interleague schedule is centered around the American League East.
Interleague play starts off early for the Marlins next season, with the Citrus Series with Tampa Bay beginning on April 10. Miami places the Yankees (June 15-18) and Red Sox (August 11-12 at home) four times each, with two games against each being played at Marlins Park.
Miami has not played at new Yankee stadium, and the Marlins will travel to Toronto for the first time since 2009.
Baltimore will head to Marlins Park for a three game series in May (22-24).
Opening Day: The Braves
Miami has not played well against the Braves over the past few years, however the Marlins won the season series with Atlanta after going 10-9 against their NL East rivals in 2014.
The three game series against the Braves gets the Marlins started at Marlins Park before the squad begins a seven game road trip against the Mets and Braves.
Jose Fernandez and The All-Star Break
The Marlins are confident Fernandez will be healthy by the All-Star Break, however the team will have to play several teams with winning 2014 records before the July classic.
In addition to playing most of their games against the AL East in the first two months of the season, the Marlins face the Giants and Dodgers consecutively in May and the Cardinals, Dodgers, Reds, and Giants again in June. Boston may be the Marlins' lone July pre-All Star break challenge.
What happens if the Marlins are in contention late?
If the Marlins are fighting for a playoff spot in 2015, trying to gain ground may not be easy.
The Braves, Cardinals, Phillies, Pirates, and Red Sox make Miami's August schedule challenging, with September bringing several NL East series. Miami ends the season in Phladelphia with a three game set with the Phillies.