With their 68-69 record heading into Monday, the Miami Marlins trail both the Mets and the Nationals in the NL East. However, they are just four games back of a wild card spot and a playoff berth for the first time in years. Despite the loss of star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton as well as their ace Wei-Yin Chen to the disabled list, the Marlins have battled admirably to maintain their position in the race to the postseason. September will be the most important month of the year for this club, and guys like Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, and Marcel Ozuna will have to step in on the offensive side if Miami hopes to play in October.
Though the Dodgers lead the NL West, complacency could make them miss out on the playoffs if they aren’t careful. They lead the San Francisco Giants by only three games, and the NL wild card slots will be highly-contested should they relinquish their division title to the Giants. Los Angeles’s pitching rotation has been a rotating carousel of sorts lately, so the return of ace Clayton Kershaw should help right the ship, at least temporarily. Brett Anderson, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Alex Wood are all currently on the disabled list, and little is known about when some of them might return. In the meantime, it’s been up to guys like Ross Stripling and Kenta Maeda to shut down opposing offenses, something they've done fairly well as of late. The Dodgers’ key offensive players are all healthy and producing, a bonus that many MLB teams don’t have right now.
The Marlins will send out their ace, Jose Fernandez, when they take the field on Friday. Despite his amazing 3.03 ERA, 13-8 record, and 224 strikeouts, Fernandez has struggled in his latest starts, sitting at 1-4 in his last seven and allowing three or more runs in three of them. However, four of those seven starts came on the road, where his performance this season has been drastically different than at home. In Miami, Fernandez holds a ridiculous 1.91 ERA and a 10-2 record. In his lone start against Los Angeles this year on April 28th, he allowed two runs on five hits in a 5-3 Miami victory. It’s worth keeping in mind that that victory came on the road.
For the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw will make his first start since June 26th, when the team faced the Pittsburgh Pirates and lost 6-1. Despite missing two and a half months due to back problems, Kershaw still holds a 1.79 ERA and an 11-2 record. Prior to June 26th, Kershaw had won nine of his last 10 starts, four of them on the road. Kershaw took the loss to the Marlins on April 26th, giving up five runs on seven hits in a 6-3 home loss.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Even though Kershaw is returning from the disabled list and he’ll face the Marlins on the road, he might have more chances to shine here than the struggling Jose Fernandez. Back the Dodgers to win 4-0.