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Marlins mathematically eliminated from MLB playoff contention

Miami was left to wonder what could have been after devastating injuries cut short the seasons of two of the brightest young stars in the game.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins were eliminated from postseason contention with a 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

The loss was the 80th of the season for Miami, ensuring no more than 82 wins -- one fewer than the Pittsburgh Pirates, currently second in the Wild Card race.

Miami wasn't widely expected to do much entering the 2014 season, but the team hung around until now with a group of good young talent surrounding one of the most feared sluggers in baseball. Unfortunately for the Marlins, that key slugger suffered one of two injuries that ultimately left the team wondering what could have been.

Giancarlo Stanton was the National League's best power hitter for the majority of the season, but his MVP-caliber campaign ended Sept. 11 when he was hit in the face by a pitch from Milwaukee Brewers starter Mike Fiers. Including that game, the Marlins lost five out of their next eight to make what was already a slim possibility virtually non-existent.

The Marlins weren't done any favors from the start, of course, when 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez was lost for the season after eight starts with a torn ligament in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery. At the time of the injury, Fernandez had a 2.44 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 51⅔ innings.

Even without Fernandez, the Marlins' pitching staff has been slightly above average, thanks in part to strong performances from Henderson Alvarez and deadline acquisition Jarred Cosart. Assuming Fernandez can be added to that mix sometime next season, the Marlins could be a dangerous opponent again in 2015, particularly if the offensive breakouts from Christian Yelich (115 OPS+) and Marcell Ozuna (110 OPS+) are real.