Assessing the Marlins' Playoff Chances

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

With about six weeks remaining in the season, the Fish still have an outside shot to make the playoffs (not bad for a team most analysts predicted to struggle). As of this morning, the Marlins sit eight back of the Phillies in third place in the NL East (one game behind the Braves), and 5.5 back of the Rockies for the Wild Card (five behind in the loss column), with the Braves and Giants also ahead of them.

When it comes to examining pennant races, the rule of thumb is if there are fewer weeks left in the season than wins to make up, then your chances of catching up are slim. As such, it appears the NL East crown is out of reach barring a Philadelphia collapse and/or a major hot streak for the Marlins. However, the Wild Card is still attainable, though the Marlins have the disadvantage of not playing the Rockies or Giants in the final weeks of the season. Their remaining schedule shapes up thusly:
  • 9 games against the Mets (6 home, 3 away)
  • 7 games against the Braves (4 home, 3 away)
  • 6 games against the Phillies (3 home, 3 away)
  • 6 games against the Nationals (3 home, 3 away)
  • 4 games against the Reds (all away)
  • 3 games against the Cardinals (all away)
  • 3 games against the Padres (all home)
That's not a bad schedule. The Padres, Mets, Nationals, and Reds all have losing records, and the Cardinals are running away with the NL Central, so they may be playing a bunch of September call-ups by the time their series rolls around. The 13 combined games against the Braves and Phillies may seem a bit daunting, but you want to play the teams ahead of you this late in the season; it gives you the best chance of making up ground.

The Marlins will need Tall Dark & Mormon to resume his dominance if they want to make the playoffs.

The Marlins will get at least 8 starts from Josh Johnson barring injury, and maybe more if the Fish decide to capitalize on their three remaining off-days and skip a start in the rotating fifth spot (which I would recommend). Hopefully his last start was just a momentary blip and he can continue That leaves another 7 starts each for Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, and Anibal Sanchez, plus whatever starts will be needed from Sean West (which could be as little as 5 or 6 if his starts get skipped around off-days). Of all the pitchers in the organization, these are the five I would like to see used during the stretch, so I guess everything is shaping up nicely with Anibal coming out of rehab. The Marlins will have to probably go 5-1 or 6-0 against the Phils to take the NL East, which is quite a tall order, but I think the Wild Card is still in reach. Stay tuned...


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