Miami Marlins hovering in the wildcard race

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Dee Gordon
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Dee Gordon /

Following Friday nights victory over the New York Mets, the Miami Marlins pulled to within seven games of the NL Wildcard.

The immediate goal remains the same for the Miami Marlins: Get back to .500. For months, they’ve struggled to check that box. Now two games below the even mark, it’s as close as they’ve been since April.

You’ll recall the team was being treated like a bargain bin ahead of the deadline. That was less than month ago. What a difference a few wins make. Fueled by a sweep of the Colorado Rockies, then a series victory against the San Francisco Giants, the Miami Marlins are relevant again.

With more than a month remaining, crazier things have happened!

The Fish have put themselves in a position to make the final stretch of the season interesting. Sitting at 59-61, two more wins will get them back to the number that has eluded them for so long. Five-hundred.

Perhaps most encouraging is the way the Miami Marlins have won some of their games down the stretch. Having relied on six, or seven run outputs from their offense all season for wins, they’re starting to win more games as a team.

Last night the pitching staff carried the way. Justin Nicolino pitched as well as you could have hoped for. His start was cut short after the fifth inning despite the fact that he was only at 74 pitches. A nearly two-hour delay to start the game might have factored into that decision.

The bullpen wasn’t just super, it was stellar. Dustin McGowan, Drew Steckenrider, Kyle Barraclough, and Brad Ziegler combined to allow only one hit in four innings. The Mets, who extended their losing streak to five, appeared helpless at the plate.

What next?

The Miami Marlins have two more games against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Win them both, and the Marlins are back to even.

Last season the team faded down the stretch in the face of tragedy. This year, it appears that they are finding their groove at the right time. If they can get back to the even mark, then keep the gravy train rolling from there, it isn’t out of the question to see them in a one-game playoff.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are slumping, having gone 3-7 in their last 10 games. They remain entrenched in the second spot in the wildcard right now. They have just as long a way to fall as the Marlins have to climb. It’s too early to start talking wildcard… for now.

J.T. Realmuto set a career high in home runs last night. Justin Nicolino pitched as well as he has all season. The bullpen was super-duper. The Miami Marlins have two more games against one of the coldest team in baseball. Things are going in the right direction.

Following the Mets series, they’ll draw the Philadelphia Phillies. Incredibly, they’re colder than the Mets are, with the Phillies riding a six-game losing streak. Muscle up on your perspective, Marlins fans, the team still has a long way to go. But they’re giving reason for optimism.