For the first time in 17 years, the MLB postseason will be graced by the Miami Marlins. That became official Friday, September 25th with a Marlins win coupled with a Philadelphia Phillies loss. The Phillies fell to the Tampa Bay Rays and the Marlins used extra-inning magic to capture a win over the New York Yankees, 5-4. It seems almost like the most fitting way to enter the postseason after such an absence. After all, the Yankees were the team the Marlins defeated en route to their second World Series victory back in 2003. The Marlins defeated a Yankees team that once employed current Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly.
What seemed like a long shot to start the season (+30,000) to win the World Series now is slightly more obtainable for Miami. It marks the first time since 2003 that major league baseball has witnessed the Marlins making the postseason. It’s also just the third time in team history that the Marlins are in the postseason at all. There’s plenty of excitement that arrives with their inclusion to the postseason, especially given the fact that the Marlins have never lost a playoff series.
The Historic Turnaround
Their postseason push also marks quite the turnaround for a team that is just a year removed from a 105-loss campaign. Miami will ride into the postseason on the heels of a 30-28 record. That marks just the seventh time in team history the Marlins have finished with a record of .500 or better. Miami now becomes just the first team to clinch a postseason berth following a 100-plus loss campaign the year before. All of that seemed unobtainable within the first week of the season when 18 Marlins players were forced off the field with positive COVID-19 tests.
It’s been an under the radar process for the Miami Marlins. At long last, however, they are relevant in the hunt for October once again. The Marlins eliminated the league’s second-longest postseason drought, topped only by the Seattle Mariners. This was a team that not too long ago gave up 29 runs to the Atlanta Braves. Not since the 2004 Yankees has a team entered the postseason after giving up 20 runs or more in a game. Miami also lost by at least 15 runs in a pair of games, which officially makes them the first playoff team to do so since the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers.
An Unlikely Group
There’s no question that in order to make the postseason, you have to put in the work. That’s what the Marlins did with a ragtag group of journeymen and rising stars. In total, the Marlins used 61 different players including 25 position players and 37 pitchers, falling just short of the all-time record of 42 pitchers used by the 2019 Mariners. The Marlins ended up having 18 players make their MLB debuts which marked the most across all 30 teams in 2020. Throughout the solid pitching that the Marlins have possessed this year, only Pablo Lopez has started more than seven games.
It’s a group that includes elder statesmen such as Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickerson, Brad Boxberger, and even Brandon Kintzler. The same Kintzler who forced DJ LeMahieu to bounce to shortstop Miguel Rojas for the game-ending double play to clinch Miami’s postseason berth. That was part of Kintzler’s strong mark of 57 percent ground-ball rate and his 12th save in as many days.
The Road Ahead
Now what lies ahead for the Miami Marlins will be a matchup with the Chicago Cubs. Despite the postseason pitching experience that Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks has, it’s a matchup that isn’t as steep as some betting odds may make it look. The postseason battle between Miami and Chicago will be an afternoon day game, something that hasn’t favored the Cubs very well in 2020 as they have just a 4-6 record in afternoon day games. Also, since 2007, the Cubs are just 9-12 in home playoff games and 6-8 as a home favorite.
Overall, according to mcubed.net, the all-time series between these two teams is fairly even with Chicago taking the edge 111-102. In terms of playoff action, the Marlins hold the slight edge 4-3. All seven of those games came as part of the 2003 NL Championship Series. The Marlins averaged 5.7 runs per game in that postseason push against the Cubs that ultimately ended up in the franchise’s second World Series title.
The Cubs and the Marlins will battle today for just the eighth time in postseason play and the 214th overall match-up in the history of this rivalry. It will be a match-up of Hendricks (6-5 2.88) vs. Sandy Alcantara (3-2 3.00) with the first pitch scheduled for 1:08 p.m. CT.
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