Now is the time when early season storylines in the world of baseball are discussed as either contenders or pretenders. Well, after the action this weekend, the Miami Marlins (41-35) have to be considered contenders.
The Marlins took three of four games against the Chicago Cubs (48-26), the presumptive best team in the league for most of the season. Miami outscored Chicago 23-14 in the series victory.
Currently, the Marlins are in a tie for second place with the much more ballyhooed New York Mets, three games behind the division-leading Washington Nationals. New manager Don Mattingly, seemingly is the perfect guy to take this talented team to the next level. They are led by the ace pitcher Jose Fernandez, who is 10-3 with a 2.28 ERA so far this season. Fernandez went seven innings, and struck out 13 in the series-clinching victory over the Cubs on Sunday.
This year, unlike past seasons, Miami’s offense isn’t completely dependent on slugger Giancaralo Stanton. He has struggled so far this season, hitting .220 with 14 homers and 37 RBI’s Left fielder Christian Yelich has helped Miami withstand Stanton’s slower start, with his .311 average, 6 homers, and 37 RBI’s. It is clear that new hitting coach Barry Bonds is making an impact on this team. Yet another example of this could be the play of Marcell Ozuna. The center fielder appears to be heading for a career best season. He has an average of .320 with 16 homers and 44 RBI’s.
If Miami gets one or two more starters at the trading deadline, they appear to be the team best-equipped to challenge the Washington Nationals in the NL East come August or September.