The matchup between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins in the 2020 NLDS will be a battle of storylines.
Cinderella At The Ball
For the Marlins, this whole season has been a sort of Cinderella story. They were dealing with adversity from Day One in 2020. First, it was COVID. An early-season outbreak cost them half of their roster. After they started playing again, manager Don Mattingly was faced with the challenge of cobbling together a competitive roster until many of the starters were eligible to play again. But guess what? They made do with a “next man up” attitude and a steady supply of arms in their farm system who impressed when they needed to.
Of course, that was just the regular season. The postseason offers an entirely different storyline for the fish. Since the franchise’s inception in 1993, the Marlins have only made the postseason twice. Both times, they’ve gone on to win the World Series.
After spending the last couple of seasons in the basement of the NL East, the Marlins have emerged as a feel-good story in these playoffs. But will they be able to write another chapter in a brief but impressive playoff history book?
Crossing The Finish Line
While the division rival Marlins have enjoyed nothing but success in the playoffs, the Braves are recent postseason track record is much less impressive. Their dominance of the Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card series spared them from becoming the first team to lose 11 consecutive postseason series, but it doesn’t completely erase their recent performance from the history books.
The last time the Braves were able to taste postseason victory prior to dispatching the Reds was way back in 2001. Needless to say, that roster was very different than it is today. This will be Atlanta’s 6th appearance in the postseason since 2010, and they’ll need to prove that winning the series against the Reds wasn’t a fluke, but rather the start of a winning trend.
Does History Offer Any Clues?
On paper, you would think so. The Braves have pretty much owned the Marlins over the years. Then again, this is 2020. While Atlanta did win the season series 6-4, it was not as easy as in years past. Perhaps the biggest hint at what may lay ahead is to look at their last few matchups during the regular season. In their last 5 matchups, the Braves brought their bats and came to mash. They won 4 of the 5 games, scoring 9 runs or more in three of them.
What To Watch For
Pitching. Both of these teams overcame rotation issues throughout the season for numerous reasons. As they move into the NLDS, the quality of the arms will go a long way to determining who will advance.
The Braves didn’t allow a single run to Cincinnati over the 22 innings they dueled in the Wild Card round, and they’ll be looking to carry that dominance into this series. Max Fried, who’s been the club’s ace all season, has finally got some solid company in the form of Ian Anderson. This is another best of 5 series, so the Marlins will have to break through early and often in hopes of extending the series and giving themselves a chance. The status of deadline acquisition Starling Marte could have a big impact, depending on his availability.
Miami has Sandy Alcantara toeing the rubber for the opener. He’ll likely be followed by Pablo Lopez in Game 2. Both guys will need to be on their games if they hope to tame Atlanta’s bats. Freeman, Ozuna, Acuña Jr., Albies, and company will look to get back to their mashing ways. After taking 13 innings to post a single run against the Reds in Game One, they started heating up with a 5-0 victory to send Cincinnati packing.
Final Call: Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
I honestly don’t know how this one will play out. Both teams have proven capable of being dominant, while also having their weaknesses exposed. I truly think, given the familiarity these two teams have with each other, that it’s just going to come down to who “has it” on a given day. Personally, I think I’d like to see the Marlins move on just for the furtherance of a pretty cool postseason narrative. Will it happen? Who knows. It’s 2020 so all bets are off.
- / 1 year ago
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