Miami hasn’t been mathematically eliminated from the postseason, but the club has dropped six straight and sits six games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
Earlier this year, the Marlins were in sole possession of that same spot. A week into September, their playoff hopes are slim.
On Tuesday, the Marlins opted to activate Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour from the disabled list. Bour had been sidelined since before the All-Star break with a high ankle sprain, and Stanton was plagued by a groin injury.
Stanton will reportedly be limited to pinch hitting, and Bour wasn’t in the starting lineup against the Phillies on Tuesday night. By activating both, the Marlins are putting their season on the line.
While major league rosters are eligible to feature as many as 40 players until the end of the regular season, having Stanton and Bour on the bench might not prove to be beneficial. At this point, it seems like an act of desperation.
The Marlins are right to have Stanton and Bour, two of the club’s two biggest power threats, join the team. However, the timing is strange and there weren’t many updated with regard to either starter before both were activated.
Miami and Manager Don Mattingly almost certainly wouldn’t force Stanton and Bour back, but Stanton wasn’t expected to return until the last week of the regular season at the earliest. President of Baseball Operations Michael Hall deemed it “the best case scenario.”
But, here we are on September 7, with Miami having dropped six straight and watching its playoff hopes slowly dwindle. The Marlins are not a better team with Stanton and Bour on the roster. They are a better team with Stanton and Bour playing and producing.
Miami’s downfall isn’t completely related to the absence of Stanton and Bour. The rotation behind Jose Fernandez has been inconsistent. Andrew Cashner hasn’t had a ton of success since being acquired.
The Marlins have had difficulty hitting with runners in scoring position, and their defense, often deemed a strength, hasn’t fared well of late.
Credit the Marlins for remaining competitive for this long. Six games out with about a month to play isn’t absurd, but the Mets are surging and the struggling Pirates are still involved.
Miami didn’t stop improving its roster, acquiring Fernando Rodney, Andrew Cashner and most recently Jeff Francoeur, so it only makes sense for the Marlins to turn to Stanton and Bour in the final few weeks.
Stanton and Bour might not be completely healthy. But again, the Marlins are sending a message. They want you to know they’re trying to compete.