Could the Miami Marlins make the playoffs in a shortened season?

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 15: Jerar Encarnacion #27 of the Salt River Rafters (Miami Marlins) bats against the Peoria Javelinas during an Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex on October 16, 2019 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 15: Jerar Encarnacion #27 of the Salt River Rafters (Miami Marlins) bats against the Peoria Javelinas during an Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex on October 16, 2019 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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How competitive would the Miami Marlins be if Major League Baseball decides to have a 50-game schedule for the 2020 shortened season?

If MLB and the MLBPA agree to a shortened 50-game schedule, it would mean any team, including the Miami Marlins, would have a shot at making the playoffs and possibly a run toward the World Series.

For most small-budget teams, it would mean they could shock the baseball landscape if one or more teams got hot at the right time. It also means for teams that were considered prohibitive favorites to hoist a World Series trophy this season, timing is everything, and stumbling out of the gate could have repercussions that could not be overcome.

I’m not sure that is the beauty of the sport of baseball or just Lady Luck having a hand in deciding a world champion this season. Whatever the case, Derek Jeter’s team will be ready when called upon to take the field. After that, who knows what can happen.

Right now, nothing is done. There is no deal on the table, no agreement of where teams will play, and how many divisions will be changed due to realignment. There is no final decision on the designated hitter and there is a thought that a 30-man roster and a 20-man taxi squad could make for some compelling lineups in the coming month or so.

If the Marlins and 29 other teams wanted to shake up the game for at least one season, this is the one to do it.

Miami’s fast start in Spring Training, winning 12 of their first 20 games, leads me to believe this is a team that needs another jump like that once the regular season starts. Did the time away from the game and practice fields slow the process for Don Mattingly and his coaching staff? Did the decision to option minor league prospects like Monte Harrison, Nick Neidert, and Jerar Encarnacion take some of the “invincibility” of the roster away?

"As Ely Sussman of fishstripes.com wrote, “The window to play in 2020 is closing. Recent history suggests that the players will make concessions to salvage something from this year, resulting in an abbreviated regular season, expanded playoffs…and an opportunity for the Marlins to be relevant?”"

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If the Marlins weren’t relevant this offseason with their moves in Hot Stove, free agency and via trades, this could make up for it. Especially if a shorter season with a designated hitter attached to their lineup means the team finally signs Yasiel Puig to fill that role.

Sometimes a team that plays with novocaine is the best type of team to have because as a whole, players take in the Major League experience and just play the game without it becoming too big for them. Mattingly would certainly benefit from a fast start and pitchers who walk on the mound and blow opponents away with power, rather than finesse.

That team could be the Miami Marlins and potential move to the playoffs in 2020 would be even bigger than the two World Series titles the team has in its trophy case form 1997 and 2003.

If there was a year the Marlins had a chance to make some noise during the season, it’s this one. Not because they have a lineup that will dominate from the first inning. Rather it’s because every team has a level playing field. And if that is truly the case, then the underdog story makes Miami an even bigger deal.

The city and its fans could use some excitement. The front office could use the jump to show it was right about the rebuild. Mattingly needs a winning season with the team to silence critics. Most of all, MLB needs a Cinderella story to talk about after this long layoff. Changing the narrative with a Miami Marlins playoff run could surely do that.

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