Last April, the Miami Marlins did a lot of things to indicate the 2016 season might be different.
The Miami Marlins started the season playing .500 ball against the Nationals, a four-game sweep of the Dodgers, a near no-hitter from Adam Conley, and a winning record in the season’s first month for the first time in five years. But there was one ominous hiccup as well.
The Fish were 0 for 3 against the Atlanta Braves. They would go on to only finish 7-11 against them by year’s end.
More from Marlin Maniac
- Why didn’t the Miami Marlins sign JDM?
- Miami Marlins rejected Boston‘s trade offer
- Miami Marlins are pursuing Michael Conforto
- Miami Marlins need to spend to win
- Miami Marlins One-Year Wonder 1B
7-11. Great for a Slurpee, terrible for a record against a team that tied for having the second worst record in all of baseball last season. While all losses ultimately count equally, it doesn’t seem over-dramatic at all to cite the Marlins inability to solve the Atlanta Braves as the biggest reason they finished the year below .500. In fact, I’d even go farther, and say it cost them the postseason.
So perhaps it is fitting that the first home series of the season is against the traditional rival. All-time, no NL East team has given Miami more trouble than Atlanta. On the one hand, they are projected to be a much stronger team this year, as the fruits of two years of tanking begin to blossom. On the other, they are 1-5, cellar-dwelling once more. The Marlins will win some and lose some against the Mets and Nationals, that is to be expected.
But if 2017 is going to be different, seeing how Don Mattingly‘s bunch handles things against lesser opponents could be more instructive than any Yoenis Cespedes or Bryce Harper at-bat. Here are the top three stories to watch heading into this short series.