Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Curious Case of the Florida Marlins

We've nearly made it through the entire 2009 season, yet I still don't know what to make of these Florida Marlins. Some days, they surprise you and take two of three from the Cardinals, in St. Louis, including one against Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright. Then there are the days where the Marlins surprise you, in the bad way. Those are the days that they lose two of three to the Nationals.

Really, we are 16 games away from the end of the regular season and all we know for sure about this team is that Hanley Ramirez is one of the best position players in baseball, Josh Johnson is a stud (or as Josh Q. Public put it, he's the "most unsung pitcher in baseball."), and that the team has covered the Vegas over of 76.5 wins that was set at the beginning of the season.

With 16 games left in the season, the Marlins sit 4.5 games back of the Wild Card, and 7 games back of the Phillies for the division. According to coolstandings.com, the Marlins still have a 4.8 percent chance of making the playoffs (as of today). Yes, that is a slim chance, but they're not mathematically eliminated. Yet.

Unfortunately for the Marlins, zero of those 16 remaining games come against the Rockies or Giants, the two teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race. Fortunately, 12 of those 16 come against division opponents, including six against the Phillies. That means the Fish have a better chance at catching the Phillies, despite mathematically having a better shot at winning the Wild Card, if that can somehow make sense.

If the Marlins want to sniff the postseason this year, the team will likely have to sweep those six games from Philadelphia, or at the very least, win five of those. The Fish will probably have to finish on a 13-3 run (and that's being generous) if they want a shot at a third World Series title.

But that's the difficult thing about this team: it's hard to gauge how they will finish the season. Starting pitching outside of JJ has had its ups and downs. The bats have been hot, and they've been lukewarm, too. And the bullpen has had issues of its own, as well (I'm looking at you, Leo Nunez).

This has been a team that somehow has managed to overachieve while simultaneously underacheiving. It's a curious case, that's for sure, and these last few weeks of the season could shape up to be interesting if the Marlins play like they do when they surprise fans, in the good way, of course.

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