It seems as though every team in the NL East expects to make the playoffs this coming season. Someone’s gotta be left out, but Jeffrey Loria doesn’t think it’ll be the Marlins. He told Joe Capozzi:
“How may wins am I expecting? I never predict but I will say we’re working off an 87-win season last year and I expect us to make the playoffs. Whatever it takes for us to make the playoffs is what we need to win.’’
To be honest, I really like the Marlins’ chances. I think the Phils will run away with the division, but aside from them, no team in the NL East can match the Marlins in talent. The Mets did nothing this offseason to improve, and even if Reyes is healthy and Wright’s steroids kick in, they still don’t have a rotation behind Johan, a first baseman, or a respectable catcher. The Braves will be competitive, but the loss of Javy Vasquez – arguably the best pitcher in the NL the second half of last season – is going to be too much to overcome. The Nats improved a bit, but not enough to challenge for the division.
So why the Marlins? For one, the rotation should be solid this season. Josh Johnson is a perennial Cy Young candidate at this point in his career, and Ricky Nolasco as your #2 is pretty filthy. I fully expect Volstad to have a good season; he dropped off last season for the same reason a lot of young pitchers do, which is that he hit a career-high in innings. If Sanchez can stay healthy, he’s a terrific #4. If not, Sean West or Rick Vandenhurk should be able to step in and contribute.
The pen has been shored up and Leo Nunez has shown he can close, and the offense is going to remain girthy now that the Fish have decided to keep Uggla around. I, too, like the Marlins’ chances this year.