No hyperbole, no overstatement, no forced drama to compel you to stop furiously studying the fantasy football waiver wire and take the time to read this column.
The Miami Marlins season, any remaining hope they have of making a late run for the playoffs, is on the line tonight. The only comfort is that if that hope is going to be put in the hands of anyone on this roster, you want it to be those of Jose Fernandez.
Win, and the Fish will head off to Philadelphia having won consecutive series for the first time since July 19th, finding themselves back at .500 and riding some real momentum into another soft on paper matchup. They can even enjoy an off-day, all while two of the top three Wild Card contenders beat up on each other for a full four games.
Of course, winning this series guarantees the Marlins nothing. Even if Jose goes the distance and hits for the cycle in a laugher tonight, the epitaph on this season will still probably end up reading:
But you can break out the chisel if the Braves do what they’ve done all year one more time, and deal the Marlins a backbreaking defeat. And I’ll confess to being a little terrified here, even with Jose on the mound. The offense has been great these past two games, which is another way of saying they’re due for a night off. Miami should be going for a sweep tonight, but that’s the price you pay for leaving Andrew Cashner in the game Monday.
Bottom-line, the Marlins can afford to lose one more series. The good news is that they will probably be favored in all but two of those. The bad news would be that pulling that feat off is going to require the club doing something they’ve struggled to do consistently all season:
Play to their potential while simultaneously playing an N.L. East team.
If the Marlins drop one of their two remaining series against the Nationals, fine. Much like the Dolphins playing the Seahawks on the road, that’s a mulligan. Lose to the Braves or the Phillies though, especially when the competition is doing you the courtesy of losing themselves?