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 36 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 .500 winning percentage, which would earn them the final NL Wild Card spot if the abruptly season ended.
Of course, the season has not ended yet—not even close. The Marlins have 40% 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: 31.8%
Current playoff odds via Baseball Prospectus: 55.9%
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):
- Red Sox at Phillies (2 G)—The seismic seven-game series between the Fish and Phils that I’m hyping up as the 2020 MPCS is fast approaching. But first, the latter is hosting a doubleheader against the pathetic Sox. Rhys Hoskins is tied for the major league lead with seven home runs over the last 14 days.
- Twins at Cardinals (2 G)—Aside from a four-game losing streak in late August, the Cardinals have been maddeningly consistent despite being tasked with MLB’s most idiosyncratic schedule. All the doubleheaders force them to sit Yadier Molina more than they’d like, but Paul Goldschimdt and Brad Miller(?!) have been on-base machines. The back end of the St. Louis starting rotation is vulnerable and hopefully Minnesota capitalizes.
- Tigers at Cardinals (2 G)—The Cards get another doubleheader on Thursday against an American League opponent, which makes Miami’s rooting interests very straightforward. In the absence of a minor league season, the Tigers have plugged several rookies into key roles on the active roster...with mixed results. Sound familiar, Marlins fans?
- Brewers at Tigers (2 G)—A .201 BA and 0.4 fWAR for Christian Yelich this season. It’s been amusing to see the Brew Crew pluck hitters off the trash heap and plug them into the cleanup spot in their desperation to provide him with some protection in the lineup.
- Orioles at Mets (2 G)—Whenever it’s an interleague matchup, you should be pulling for the AL team.
- Dodgers at Diamondbacks (3 G)—Another deflating game for the Snakes on Labor Day. Old friend Zac Gallen is having arguably the best one-win season by a starting pitcher in MLB history. Losing this series to the Dodgers would unequivocally end their push for October.
- Rockies at Padres (2 G)—Two playoff teams are going to come out of the NL West regardless. Might as well have them bludgeon the Wild Card wannabes below them to give the Marlins more margin for error.
- Giants at Padres (1 G)—It’s so satisfying to root for Fernando Tatís Jr., isn’t it?
- Mariners at Giants (2 G)—Whenever it’s an interleague matchup, you should be pulling for the AL team.
- Reds at Cubs (3 G)
- Braves at Nationals (1 G)—On one hand, you shouldn’t count out the Nats until they’re mathematically eliminated. On the other, you want the Braves to be forced to earn their NL East title down the stretch and keep a shred of hope alive that the Marlins can capture the division for the first time in franchise history.