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Tank Race Tuesday: Marlins’ lead cut to 1.5 games, Orioles and Royals close in

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Three series against other contenders for the league’s worst record could mean Miami’s advantage shrinks further.

The Marlins still yearn for more cheap, controllable, high-upside talent to elevate their farm system to an elite level and lay the foundation for sustainable success. Stinking against major league competition this season is a critical step in that process. We don’t need to call it “tanking,” but let’s just say—behind closed doors—Miami’s front office will tolerate plenty of 2019 losses if it means selecting near the top of the 2020 MLB Draft and maximizing their 2020-21 international bonus pool. Fish Stripes will be monitoring this “race” for you.

FanGraphs ran performance projections for every team prior to Opening Day, but also continues to provide rest-of-season projections as the real games get played. See below for details regarding the six worst teams, including the Marlins, Orioles, Royals, Tigers, Nationals, and Blue Jays.

Marlins

2019 record and run differential (entering Tuesday): 13-31, minus-89

2019 projected record and run differential: 61-101, minus-193

Upcoming schedule: 5/21-5/23 at Tigers, 5/24-5/27 at Nationals, 5/28-5/30 vs. Giants, 5/31-6/2 at Padres

Since last week´s update, Miami snapped a seven-game losing streak with a three-game home sweep of the Mets, picking up a win and six runs on their full-season projections. Upcoming series against three of the bottom five teams in the big leagues could go a long way in determining who gets that coveted no. 1 draft slot next year.

Orioles

2019 record and run differential (entering Tuesday): 15-32, minus-98

2019 projected record and run differential: 58-104, minus-247

Upcoming schedule: 5/21-5/23 vs. Yankees, 5/24-5/26 at Rockies, 5/27-5/29 vs. Tigers, 5/31-6/2 vs. Giants

The Orioles lost six of seven and retook second in the tank race. They now sit just a game and a half back of the Fish. However, while Miami and Baltmore were projected to tie for the worst record in the league last week, the O’s are now projected to win (and by win, I mean lose) that race by three full games as things stand now.

Royals

2019 record and run differential (entering Tuesday): 16-31, minus-36

2019 projected record and run differential: 66-96, minus-110

Upcoming schedule: 5/21-5/22 at Cardinals, 5/24-5/26 vs. Yankees, 5/27-5/29 at White Sox, 5/30-6/2 at Rangers

The Royals went 2-4 since last publication and fell into third in the tank race based on winning percentage, yet they simultaneously cut their deficit by half and now trail the Marlins by just 1.5 games. Kansas City’s end of season projections dropped a win and 17 runs.

Tigers

2019 record and run differential (entering Tuesday): 18-26, minus-89

2019 projected record and run differential: 66-96, mins-197

Upcoming schedule: 5/21-5/23 vs. Marlins, 5/24-5/26 at Mets, 5/27-5/29 at Baltimore, 5/31-6/2 at Braves

The Tigers just missed the cut last week but are back in the thick of things after a winless week. They were losing a sixth game that was suspended by rain and will be conluded in September.

Nationals

2019 record and run differential (entering Tuesday): 19-28, minus-32

2019 projected record and run differential: 82-80, plus-23

Upcoming schedule: 5/21-5/23 at Mets, 5/24-5/27 vs. Marlins, 5/28-5/29 at Braves, 5/31-6/2 at Reds

The Nats lost four of seven along with a win and 10 runs off of their end of season projections. With series against the struggling Mets and Marlins coming up, there’s a good chance they’re not on this list next week. But then again perhaps not...

Blue Jays

2019 record and run differential (entering Tuesday): 19-28, minus-35

2019 projected record and run differential: 72-90, minus-78

Upcoming schedule: 5/21-5/23 vs. Red Sox, 5/24-5/26 vs. Padres, 5/27-5/29 at Rays, 5/31-6/2 at Rockies

The Jays move into a tie with the Nationals for fourth after a 3-4 week. The Mets, Rockies and Giants all just missed the cut, each with a 20-25 record, just 1.5 games back of Toronto and Washington.