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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.
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 39 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 .513 winning percentage, which would earn them the first NL Wild Card spot if the abruptly season ended.
Of course, the season has not ended yet—not even close. The Marlins have more than one-third 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: 46.6%
Current playoff odds via Baseball Prospectus: 68.3%
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):
- Mets at Blue Jays (3 G)—Looks promising! The ‘Jays have only lost one series in Buffalo this season. Their star shortstop Bo Bichette is on the verge of making his return from the injured list.
- Braves at Nationals (3 G)—Excruciating loss for the Nats on Thursday that included a potentially season-ending oblique injury for key reliever Sean Doolittle. Howie Kendrick just strained his hamstring, too. The defending champs don’t have the depth to catch fire down the stretch and sneak into October. They’re just spoilers in the playoff push. Might as well hope for them to do the improbable this weekend and keep the NL East title in play for the Fish.
- Angels at Rockies (3 G)—Whenever it’s an interleague matchup, you should be pulling for the AL team.
- Cubs at Brewers (3 G)—Christian Yelich is currently slashing .213/.347/.461 with a 113 wRC+, the lowest mark of his major league career.
- Reds at Cardinals (3 G)—After “winning the offseason,” the Reds are in the conversation for most disappointing team in the National League. But they haven’t quit yet. Not with such nastiness in their starting rotation and so much experience in their lineup.
- Giants at Padres (3 G)—It’s Sept. 11 and Donovan Solano is still hitting .352. Nobody knows anything. The Giants recently DFA’d Pablo Sandoval, so perhaps that bad karma will derail their surprising season?