I’d first like to start this article by stating a theory that I’ve had for the past couple years. If Jose Fernandez never passed away, the Marlins would’ve been legit contenders over these last few seasons. I mean, think about it. The Marlins were hovering around .500 when the Fernandez tragedy took place, and had a VERY solid core that included Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, JT Realmuto, Marcel Ozuna and of course Fernandez in that 2016 season.
That day Fernandez died, it not only ripped the soul from the Marlins franchise, but from the MLB as a whole. You could clearly see how much the young star meant to that clubhouse and because of that, we got one of the best sports moments of all-time with the Dee Gordon home run in the first game back. If you don’t know that full story, Gordon and Fernandez were best friends, and in the first plate appearance back since the accident, Gordon hit his first homer of the season (9th career) and circled the bases in tears. Immediate chills every time.
With the soul of the team crushed, the Fish finished the year 79-82 and started deep-diving into a serious rebuild. Yelich, Stanton, Ozuna, Realmuto, Gordon – the entire core of that 2016 team; all on different teams by the 2019 season. The team has seriously struggled, and even went through its second re-branding of the decade to try to get more fan engagement in South Florida.
Now in this crazy short 2020 campaign where this very team almost got the whole MLB season shut down so they could hit a strip club in Atlanta, these Marlins have been able to take some risks with some seriously highly-regarded prospects that they got from trading those big names away. And it certainly looks like it’s paying off.
The young pitching staff is the overwhelming strength of the team and includes five bona fide potential front-end starters in Pablo Lopez (3.05 ERA 38.1 IP), Elieser Hernandez (3.16 ERA 25.2 IP), Sandy Alcantara (3.76 ERA 16.2 IP), Trevor Rogers (3.00 ERA 15 IP) and Sixto Sanchez (1.80 ERA 25 IP).
The bats have been lagging behind but are starting to come around. Shortstop Miguel Rojas (1.040 OPS in 70 PA) is trying to will the team to victory as heart of the order guys like 3B Brian Anderson (.777 OPS), DH Jesus Aguilar (.809 OPS) and 1B Garrett Cooper (.881 OPS) haven’t blown anyone away.
The Marlins’ front office knows that this short season is a huge chance for them with the start that they got, so they went for it at the deadline by trading for former All-Star CF Starling Marte from Arizona and calling up top hitting prospect SS Jazz Chisholm. At 19-18, the Marlins sit one game out of the second Wild Card spot and are going for a three-game sweep of the first-place Braves tonight. A unique spot in their schedule comes up for this team after their current series as they have 15 games in 11 days, all at home. A true make-or-break home stand for a spot in the playoffs. Electric factory.
If I’m on this young team, I’m juiced to the max to be in this spot and going out every night with a nothing-to-lose attitude. But instead, I’m the 22-year-old blogging about this team, so as my Nats are in the midst of a #TankForKumar, I’m declaring myself a temporary Marlin Maniac for the remainder of the season, and I’m riding this bandwagon as far as it’ll go.
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