Miami Marlins: Don Mattingly’s biggest challenge in South Florida

What will the 2020 MLB season mean to the upstart Miami Marlins?

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly is just as eager to get the 202 MLB season underway as his players have been since the league office put a halt to Spring Training due to the threat of the Coronavirus.

Now that the Marlins are in their second phase of preparing for a shortened baseball season, the organization is focusing on safety as well as getting players back to full speed and ready for a sprint to the finish line that will begin in three weeks.

“The biggest thing we’ll be trying to do is make sure that we get in physical shape, safely,” Mattingly said via MLB.com. “We can’t have guys trying to get back in shape too fast. We’ll try to get guys up to game speed.”

The Marlins will bring 60 players to camp, sort through the small details, and concentrate on putting together a roster that is competitive and a potential playoff contender – yes, I wrote that – this year. With the focus on younger players still on the minds of Mattingly and the front office, the Marlins may not make the postseason, but they could make it very interesting in this short stanza of baseball.

“There will be a lot more live BPs, sim-type game situations,” Mattingly said. “More of that and less of the drill work.”

There are still plenty of questions about the roster and who sees action this season, especially right out of the gate.

  • The outfield is still a question. Corey Dickerson is the left fielder. Jonathan Villar figures to be the centerfielder. Who wins the right-field job?
  • Will the Marlins go out and find a designated hitter?
  • Will there be a six-man rotation?
  • How will Mattingly use the bullpen? Will he be able to keep his arms fresh?
  • How will the Miami Marlins deal with more interleague play?

Now that the 60-game season has been put into place, the Marlins will see their familiar rivals and teams that are geographically in relation to playing games on the east coast and at Marlins Park.

“Opening Day will be either July 23 or 24 and to mitigate travel, the Marlins will be playing the National League East for 40 games, while the remaining 20 will be against the American League East,” Joe Frisaro writes.

The Marlins worked this offseason, prior to the mid-March stoppage, to find more power in the middle of the lineup and to strengthen the bullpen. The team got off to a fast start in Spring Training, winning 12 of their first 20 games.

Mattingly was given a two-year contract extension prior to the end of the 2019 campaign. He has not had a winning season in four years with the franchise. This shortened season might prove to be his best chance to show this is a team that has finally begun to win with the changes made to the organization.

Next: Can Marlins 3B win the MVP Award in 2020?
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