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Marlins’ playoff hopes take hit with Giancarlo Stanton maybe out for 2016

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes Stanton’s injured groin, Rich Hill’s rehab delay, and Mookie Betts’ big day at the plate.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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The Marlins were in a good, not great place: they ended Sunday just half game back of the wild card spot held by the Cardinals. This just a couple weeks after filling in some roster holes at the trade deadline, and a little over a month since Giancarlo Stanton started to hit like Giancarlo Stanton again — the Marlins right fielder had been on a .300/.364/.625 tear with 10 homers in his last 32 games. Miami might have to go without Stanton or his bat the rest of the season, though, as an MRI revealed a Grade 3 left groin strain on the slugger, putting what’s left of 2016 in jeopardy.

Stanton might be back in six weeks — that’s if everything goes perfectly in his recovery. The problem is that six weeks from Sunday is Sept. 25, so even Stanton returning as soon as possible means he’s going to miss all but the final seven games of the Marlins’ season. If Miami can grab a wild card spot and hold on to it despite Stanton’s absence, those seven games will be huge, especially since they would have him for an eighth in the NL Wild Card Game and beyond if they manage to win. Getting to that point sans Stanton is going to be a difficult task, though.

The Marlins’ season isn’t officially over, just like Stanton’s isn’t. They’re only half game out, and they weathered his absence once already when he was in the midst of a terrible slump that saw him hit .187/.266/.325 for a 45-game stretch from mid May through early July. Ichiro Suzuki is going to end up seeing a lot more playing time with Stanton on the shelf, and while Ichiro is a downgrade over the version of Stanton that can slug over .600 for months at a time, he’s also having himself a fine, above-average campaign at 42. If he can keep it going, the Marlins still have a shot. And there are just over six weeks left in the season, anyway: A whole lot can happen in either direction in such short a time, and the Cardinals certainly aren’t invincible.