Spring training is underway and the start of the season is fast approaching, which means the Miami Marlins are once again preparing for a season of struggle.
In a strong National League East, the Marlins face severe competition from the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, without even considering the Washington Nationals and their exciting 21-year-old outfielder Juan Soto. The league is made up by Philadelphia Phillies, who provide the first opponents for Don Mattingly’s side. It’s a tough roster and one which doesn’t offer much hope for the Marlins in 2020.
Out of all 30 MLB teams, four are at huge odds to win the World Series. The Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals are all rank outsiders. However, the Miami Marlins are listed by Bwin as the least favorite team to win this year’s World Series and achieving a playoff place alone will be a big achievement.
Despite their apparent season of struggle ahead, there are signs that the Marlins might surprise a few fans. They won their first five games of spring training, with St Louis Cardinals beaten twice, as well as Houston Astros and Washington Nationals also defeated. SNY reports they also beat a New York Mets split squad 5-3, hinting at a possible surprise this coming season.
So what needs to happen for the Marlins to make the playoffs? As rank outsiders, they’re going to have to be on their game each week, but with a roster of young players, they’ll be hoping to see some young talent emerge and drive them forward.
JJ Bleday is turning heads at Marlins Park after just two seasons with the organization. The young outfield was the first-round pick of the 2019 draft and whilst he may not emerge this season, he’s one to look out for. It’s expected he’ll eventually be the face of the team and although it may not be until 2021, the policy of relying on young players might reap rewards for the Marlins.
Whilst the rebuild is now entering the third year and young blood is the future, CEO Derek Jeter has also sung the praises of the veterans that pepper their current squad. They’re the players leading the way for the future generation and they might just have the experience to spring a National League East surprise. Corey Dickerson is the expected starting left fielder this season and he’s a one-time All-Star and a career .286 hitter. Francisco Cervelli is a 12-year MLB veteran and Matt Kemp is a 35-year-old outfielder facing his 15th MLB season. All will play a vital role in the squad as the Marlins look to the future.
ESPN claims that it has been 16 years since the Marlins last appeared in the playoffs, a drought they’ll be desperate to end this coming season. Whilst they might not be a team many are tipping, that blend of veterans and fresh blood, as well as their spring training form might be the springboard they need to be this year’s MLB surprise package.