Wild Card Series preview
The Marlins (31-29, minus-41 run differential) are visiting the Cubs (34-26, plus-25 run differential) at Wrigley Field for a best-of-three first-round postseason series, beginning with Game 1 Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on ABC. As you are well aware, the Marlins have never lost a postseason series before. Just like the 1997 and 2003 teams, the 2020 Fish are considered underdogs (+170 odds, per Bovada).
While nobody would label the Cubs as “dominant” this season, they practically led the NL Central from wire to wire, never dropping below the .500 mark. They also have the distinction of being one of the few MLB teams who haven’t had any players test positive for COVID-19 since the start of summer camp.
2020 Team Stats (with MLB Ranks)
|R||263 (21st)||265 (20th)|
|wRC+||95 (18th)||91 (21st)|
|ERA||4.86 (21st)||3.99 (10th)|
|FIP||5.02 (26th)||4.18 (9th)|
Because of MLB’s regional schedule, the Marlins and Cubs had no mutual opponents in 2020 and didn’t directly play each other.
Probable starters: Miami will use Sandy Alcantara, Sixto Sánchez and Pablo López in some order. Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks will take the mound for Chicago, though their No. 3 option is to be determined. Perhaps playoff-tested veteran left-hander Jon Lester gets the nod in that scenario.
The Cubs announced their 40-man postseason player pool on Thursday. Mainstays from their 2016 World Series championship club include Hendricks, Lester, Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber.
The Marlins have not officially done the same yet. However, I believe these 38 players will be postseason eligible because they were included in Miami’s traveling party during the season-ending road trip (José Ureña has been removed after suffering a fractured forearm on Sunday):
Don Mattingly owns an 8-11 career record as a postseason manager from three previous runs with the 2013-2015 Dodgers, advancing to the NLCS in ‘13. This will be David Ross’ first time in this position, though he had a prominent leadership role as a player on the ‘16 Cubs.
Subscribe to the Fish Stripes podcast for a more extensive series preview coming out Tuesday morning!
- Congrats to Jesús Aguilar (Team MVP), Pablo López (Charlie Hough “Good Guy” Award), Francisco Cervelli (Jeff Conine Award) and Sixto Sánchez (Rookie of the Year) on receiving 2020 awards from the South Florida chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
- Thanks to all 184 people who have participated in our Fish Picks prop bets contest this year! The fun will continue into the postseason with points leaders getting their chance to win Ride the Wave, Air Rojas and Marlings t-shirts from BreakingT.
- Locked On Marlins is releasing a new interview with beloved FOX Sports Florida analyst Tommy Hutton later today.
- Mark Feinsand of MLB.com explores the consequences of so many top prospects skipping Triple-A en route to making their major league debuts in 2020. The Marlins did it with a handful of talented players, including Sixto Sánchez, Trevor Rogers and Jazz Chisholm who are all expected to be featured on their postseason roster.
- Shortstop prospect Nasim Nuñez, who just recently turned 20, is launching his own apparel line.