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On Tuesday, the Marlins announced that Giancarlo Stanton was returning from the disabled list, at least three weeks before even the most optimistic expectation. That’s good news for Miami, as Stanton is one of the best hitters in the majors and had rebounded his 2016 after a slow start. Well, until a groin strain knocked him to the DL, anyway. The problem is that the team Stanton is coming back to is in a far different situation than the one he left: On August 14, the day they lost Stanton, the Marlins were 61-56 and a half-game out of a wild card spot. They woke up on Wednesday morning 68-71, riding a five-game losing streak and a 1-9 record in their last 10 games, six games back of a wild card, and trailing the Mets and Pirates.
Stanton is a wonderful player, but he’s not enough to close this newly opened gap on his own. Since August 15, the rotation has produced a 4.10 ERA, which is closer to average than bad. However, the lineup has hit just .236/.294/.355 over the same stretch, and things have been even worse in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park, where Miami slugged under .300 as a team. Stanton can help bring those numbers up, but still, he’s just the one player. The Marlins need the whole lineup to get back to what it was doing before his injury, or else it won’t matter that the rotation seems to have stabilized.
There’s another problem here, too, and it’s that Stanton isn’t actually back to be a regular just yet. He’s limited to pinch-hit duties, and it’s unclear how long that will be his role before he can try to help for four or more plate appearances per day instead of one timely one. This is probably too little, too late, even with the Pirates sliding back in the race, as Miami has three games left against the Dodgers, three against the Mets, and six against the Nationals. Unless they win a significant chunk of those and keep the Phillies and Braves from victory in their other series, the damage done in Stanton’s absence is likely irreversible.
- It’s not all bad news for the Marlins, though! Ichiro Suzuki hit his first career pinch-hit homer on Tuesday.
- It’s mostly bad news for the Marlins, though, as Fish Stripes is already thinking about how the team can make the playoffs in 2017.
- The Pirates needed to defeat the Cardinals to snap their seven-game losing streak and gain a game in the wild card race. Instead, they gave up three homers in the ninth inning after getting St. Louis down to their last strike, so now it’s an eight-game losing streak.
- Whether you’re into traditional or advanced metrics, workhorses or strikeouts, the NL Cy Young race is an absolute mess.
- The Giants have had trouble hitting lately, but if you’re screaming for their hitting coach to be fired, you just come off looking reactionary.
- The Yankees have had some rotation issues in 2016, but there is more depth on the way.
- With Andrew Benintendi still on the DL, the bottom of the Red Sox lineup needs to step up.
- The Orioles might be in third place and with a rough schedule ahead of them, but they’re also still within reach of the AL East crown.
- If not a division title, the Orioles — and plenty of others — are still vying for the wild cards. Royals Review looked over some of the wildest wild card scenarios.
- It’s been a year since the Matt Harvey decision. Were the Mets right to avoid shutting him down last fall?
- Brett Gardner saved the Yankees and ended Tuesday’s game with this grab at the wall.