Miami Marlins’ 2020 Chances Are Improving by the Day

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The Marlins are one of the teams to stand out the most at the beginning of the 2020 MLB season. That statement has many different meanings. Miami has won nine of their first fifteen games and is currently tied for the top spot in the NL East with Atlanta.

The interesting part is that the club was supposed to “shine” in a different way when the revised 2020 schedules came out in early July. Miami Marlins had, by far, the hardest stretch of games heading into the 60-game campaign, having just eight games against opponents with losing 2019 records.

The tables during this uneven season have turned early on. That, expectedly, happens every year – some teams that aren’t so good over a 162-game schedule lead their division after a month or two. Then, as mentioned, they do a full 360 and get a top-five draft pick. Not because they experience a breakdown as much as they show their true nature reflecting the current player pool.

However, these teams will now be the “success stories” of 2020 as they’ll at least reach the postseason. After nearly a month of play, the Marlins have an even bigger opportunity to do accomplish something that would be nothing more than a dream in a full season – reach the playoffs.

Sustainable Success?

Credits: Miami Herald

Miami Marlins have jumped to an over-.500 record in the first quarter of the season mainly due to a resurgence by their lineup. The team has scored 69 runs through 15 games, or 4.60 runs per game. This is just under the NL average of 4.72 but is still in the middle of the pack. That’s an avid improvement as opposed to the 3.80 runs/game of 2019, which ranked dead last in the National League.

This could have been expected. The busy offseason has shown dividends, with Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson posting very satisfying numbers since the start of the season. The two power-hitter in the Marlins lineup have both put on an OPS of over .500 with four home runs. In addition, the former Brewer is hitting .302 with a team-high 15 RBI.

Jonathan Villar, despite a quiet start, has also returned to top form in the past week. Only Matt Joyce has an on-base percentage better than Villar’s .391 in the past seven games.

Unlike last year, the Marlins may have found a solid top half of the batting order. Last year, the #2 and #5 spots in Miami’s lineup had a .694 OPS (tied last in MLB) and a .715 OPS (22nd), respectively. The improvement has been felt and the power in the Marlins lineup is likely here to stay.

The starting rotation has battled through many problems to put on one of the best displays across the league. Miami has managed a 3.70 starters ERA, the ninth-best in the majors. Elieser Hernandez and Pablo Lopez have both posted sub-3.00-ERA figures, while Jordan Yamamoto has a long way to go. Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith have made only one start each, while Jose Urena is yet to make his 2020 debut. The Marlins rotation might be even stronger when they return.

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Credits: ChatSports

Solid hitting and terrific starting pitching haven’t helped Miami Marlins in their most recent efforts. The team hasn’t won any of its last three series, amounting to a 3-5 record.

Many of these losses have been in close contests, in which the pitching has kept Miami in it. On the other hand, the most notable factors for the failure on these occasions were the problematic bottom part of the order and inconsistent bullpen.

Miguel Rojas, who was slated to bat #8 or #9, has left the bottom Marlins of the Marlins lineup without a reliable hitter with his absence. The top options in that department are now Francisco Cervelli, Monte Harrison, and Eddy Alvarez. While the former has delivered three homers, Harrison and Alvarez have not been productive at the plate. The Marlins desperately need Rojas and Garrett Cooper, among others, to return but uncertainty still looms.

Relief pitching has started to fall off the great place where it stood just two weeks ago. The Marlins bullpen now has a 4.10 ERA, ranking 13th across baseball. Stephen Tarpley, Brad Boxberger, and Brandon Kintzler all had at least one bad outing this past week. However, they’ve been good most of the time. Therefore, the bullpen is no longer the liability is was thought to be heading into 2020.

Division Picture

Despite everything aforementioned, the Miami Marlins would not even be a part of such an article if their divisional opponents hadn’t given them reasons for positivity. Apart from Miami and Atlanta, the other three NL East teams have not managed to get their season together. The Phillies, the Nationals, and the Mets all have losing records. Also, Philly, the closest contender, is two games behind the Braves and the Marlins.

This has absolutely turned the Marins schedule upside down. A team that once had 52 games against winning opponents now has just four remaining series against such teams. Remaining Miami opponents have an average winning percentage of around .430, the easiest in the MLB.

The likes of the Braves, the Yankees, and the Rays still seem like too big a fish to beat. However, the Marlins, given no serious injuries, and the return of much-needed reinforcements, can be competitive versus both New York, Washington, and Philadelphia, and the Red Sox, who are also on the schedule.

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Teodor Tsenov is a writer in the NFL Department of Overtime Heroics. Teodor joined the media in March 2020, previously writing for Franchise Sports UK. Also a second-year International Sport Management student at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in Den Haag, the Netherlands. Originally from Sofia, Bulgaria.