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MLB rooting guide for Marlins fans—September 4-6

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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 32 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 Friday with a .500 winning percentage, which would earn them the top NL Wild Card spot if the season ended today.

MLB.com

Of course, the season has not ended yet—not even close. The Marlins have nearly half of their 2020 schedule remaining, one that features four doubleheaders and no more off days. Projection systems remain uncertain about where they’ll stand a few weeks from now.

Current playoff odds via FanGraphs: 27.1%

Current playoff odds via Baseball Prospectus: 55.0%

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 Friday to Sunday in parentheses):

  • Nationals at Braves (4 G)—The Nats are getting incredible individual efforts from Juan Soto and Trea Turner...and that’s about it. We saw them catch fire in the middle of 2019 en route to a World Series title, but they don’t have the pitching depth or fielding prowess to make that happen again. To keep alive any fantasies of the Marlins surging towards their first-ever NL East title, Washington must beat the Braves in this series, roughing up Atlanta’s pitching staff to such an extent that it leaves them ill-prepared to host the Fish beginning on Monday.
  • Phillies at Mets (3 G)—A second-place finish in the division comes with an automatic playoff berth under this year’s expanded format and the Phillies are Miami’s main competition. But the Phils come to Marlins Park for a mega seven-game series later this month, which will allow the Marlins to largely control their own destiny. On the other hand, the season series with the Mets is already over. All in all, it helps the Marlins if both teams win at least one game this weekend. This is a wrap-around series with a fourth game between them coming on Labor Day.
  • Reds at Pirates (4 G)
  • Cardinals at Cubs (4 G)—This is a wrap-around series with a fifth game between them coming on Labor Day.
  • Brewers at Indians (3 G)—Whenever it’s an interleague matchup, you should be pulling for the American League team.
  • Rockies at Dodgers (3 G)
  • Diamondbacks at Giants (3 G)—This is a wrap-around series with a fourth game between them coming on Labor Day.
  • Padres at Athletics (3 G)—Whenever it’s an interleague matchup, you should be pulling for the American League team.