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MLB rooting guide for Marlins fans—September 15-17

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Before, during and after Marlins games, there will be action happening elsewhere around Major League Baseball that has massive playoff implications.

New York Mets v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Marlins roster is more talented than it’s been all season with an influx of top prospects and the acquisition of former All-Star Starling Marte. If the Fish maintain the pace set by their teammates through the first 45 games, they will snap the National League’s longest playoff drought, returning to October for the first time since the 2003 World Series.

The club enters play on Tuesday with a .533 winning percentage, which would earn them the No. 5 seed in the NL.

MLB.com

Of course, the season has not ended yet—not even close. The Marlins still have one-quarter of their 2020 schedule remaining, including two doubleheaders and no more off days. Projection systems are buying in, but not ready to fully punch that ticket.

Current playoff odds via FanGraphs: 81.0%

Current playoff odds via Baseball Prospectus: 87.6%

Even the most optimistic fans understand that this pursuit of a postseason berth could go down to the wire. That’s why it is important to monitor activity around the rest of the National League, rooting for anything that—directly or indirectly—lowers the bar for the Marlins to get in.

Twice each week during September, Fish Stripes will identify the most critical upcoming series, recommending which teams Marlins fans should support (number of games from Tuesday to Thursday in parentheses):

  • Mets at Phillies (3 G)—These “win now” teams are in all likelihood scrapping for a single playoff berth. In addition to dropping five of their seven games in Miami, the Phillies left town limping with Rhys Hoskins suffering a potentially season-ending injury and J.T. Realmuto expected to be limited for this upcoming series due to hip discomfort. Perhaps the Mets will get some sort of emotional lift from Monday’s news that Steve Cohen is on the verge of replacing the despised Wilpons as majority owner.

  • Braves at Orioles (2 G)—The O’s shellacked the NL East frontrunners during Monday’s series opener. Is a sweep too much to ask for?? Probably. These games ought to be extremely high scoring with the Braves starting rotation in shambles but their lineup arguably as deep as any in the majors as Ozzie Albies has seemingly rediscovered his All-Star form.
  • Cardinals at Brewers (3 G)—Without watching him on a daily basis, I am flummoxed by the miserable season that Christian Yelich is having. Not only is it very disappointing, it’s so atypical of his hitting profile with 62 total strikeouts—tied for the third-highest MLB total—and a career-low .250 BABIP.
  • Giants at Mariners (2 G)—After his out-of-nowhere excellence in 2019, Donovan Solano has performed even better for the 2020 Giants. A huge pay raise awaits him in arbitration. Root for him to bat 1.000 every game...while his club loses.
  • Athletics at Rockies (2 G)—Whenever it’s an interleague matchup, you should be pulling for the AL team.
  • Dodgers at Rockies (1 G)
  • Pirates at Reds (2 G)—Cincinnati has the luxury of a long final homestand and two more off days down the stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if they caught fire and nabbed second place in the NL Central. But let’s hope the Reds are forced to climb out of a deep hole in the standings just in case they and the Marlins wind up in competition for the Wild Card spots instead.