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Thursday, September 21, 2023


Marlins to contend in NL

The Florida Marlins, winners of seven straight games, are off to an 11-1 start, entering Monday.’

The wining streak has given them a five game lead over the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets in the National League East. Could it be their year again?’

The Marlins have been an MLB franchise since 1993 and have already won two World Series in 1997 and 2003. ‘The Fish’ currently hold the best record in baseball and some believe they could make another run at a title this season.

The Marlins will keep up their torrid pace, despite having the lowest payroll in the league. Six of their 10 wins came against the 1-10 Washington Nationals, but they have a lot of young players who are producing.’

The key player fueling this great start is Emilio Bonafacio, who is hitting .321 with 13 runs entering Monday. He’s also stolen four bases, which ranks first in the National League. Bonafacio can play all around the field and has lightning quick speed.’

Starting pitcher Josh Johnson is also off to a quick start. He is 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA, 21 strikeouts and one complete game in 21.2 innings entering Monday. Johnson, along with Ricky Nolasco and Andrew Miller, will anchor a Marlins rotation full of solid, young arms. They will be huge when Florida goes through offensive slumps.

Outfielder Jeremy Hermida has also started well, smacking three homers during the first two weeks of this season. He is a patient hitter who sees more than four pitches per at-bat.’

Hermida is not the only one who is producing as Cody Ross, John Baker and Jorge Cantu have also stepped up. Cantu has prioritized starting the season hot at the plate and it has paid dividends as he is sporting a .368 average and 14 hits entering Monday.’

Unlike the Chicago Cubs, who feel pressure when they play because they haven’t won a World Series since 1908, the Marlins play loose and under the radar. They also have eight players hitting higher than .290 entering Monday, but they aren’t all-star infielders Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla.

If Ramirez gets his bat going, the Marlins will have a great chance to stay in first place for most of the season. Ramirez is hitting .245 with only one stolen base this season, but the Marlins are expecting more production from him soon.’

Uggla has hit 27 or more home runs each of the last three seasons. Although he has 12 RBIs entering Monday, he is off to a slow start. Uggla and Ramirez are the heart and soul of the Marlins, but their teammates are off to a great start so they don’t feel pressured to produce.

Manager Fredi Gonzales is receiving a lot from his team, but he will need rookie center fielder Cameron Maybin to step up. Maybin has a great swing and hit .500 at the end of last season after he was called up to the big leagues in September 2008.’

Maybin has only seven hits this season and the emergence of Bonafacio does not help Maybin’s stock. Expect Maybin to pick up his performance or head to the minors. He has already struck out 14 times entering Monday, but he can become a key asset to this team in September and October if he gets back on track.

Veterans Ross Gload and Wes Helms will be huge for the Marlins off the bench and in the locker room. Both Gload and Helms have four hits in their first 13 at bats this season and can pinch hit in any situation. Plus, they have plenty of advice to offer to their young teammates.

Look for the Marlins to stay in the NL East race for the entire season, despite their youth and lack of financial resources. A trip to the postseason could end as it did the first two times Florida went there – with a World Series Championship.

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