Opposite dugout: Marlins, Stanton looking for better offensive production next year

marlins-logo.jpgManager: Dan Jennings (1st season)

Record: 59-81

Last 10 games: 7-3

Who to watch: 2B Dee Gordan (.328/.355/.408 with 36 RBIs, 50 SB), 3B Martin Prado (.284 with 52 RBIs), SS Adeiny Hechavarria (.281 with 48 RBIs), RHP Jose Fernandez (4-0, 2.30 ERA), RHP A.J. Ramos (25 saves, 2.61 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 6-6

Pitching probables:

Sept. 11: LHP Gio Gonzalez vs. RHP Jarred Cosart, 7:10 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 12: RHP Tanner Roark vs. RHP Jose Fernandez, 7:10 p.m., MASN
Sept. 13: RHP Max Scherzer vs. LHP Brad Hand, 1:10 p.m., MASN

Inside the Marlins:

Well, Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton is still out of the Marlins lineup and it's still noticeable. He hasn't played since June 26 due to a broken wrist, and he was just recently limited to dry swings. Still feeling discomfort in his hand, Stanton has been reported as fearing he won't return this season, and at this point, he shouldn't worry about 2015. Obviously, every competitor wants to get back on the field as soon as possible, but the Marlins are better off with a fully healthy Stanton in 2016. While the Fish are still trying to fight off the Braves for third place in the National League East, they don't need to rush back a partially healthy Stanton for the remaining 22 games of this season.

Miami's offense continues to struggle without their slugger. How much do they miss Stanton? How about he still leads the team in home runs (27) with the next closest home run total being first baseman Justin Bour's 16. Left fielder Derek Dietrich, who has only played in 69 games, is the only other player with double-digit homers (10). It should come as no surprise that the Marlins rank last in Major League Baseball in home runs and are the only major league team that hasn't hit 100 longballs this season with just 86.

Their other offensive rankings are not much better. They rank 29th in runs scored (521), RBIs (491), slugging percentage (.378) and OPS (.685). They also rank 13th in the National League with a .307 on-base percentage. But the Marlins are seventh in the league in hits (1,208) and fifth in batting average (.256), both higher than the Nationals. So they can put the ball in play, but the absence of Stanton or any other slugger keeps them off the board.

A bright spot in Miami's lineup is right at the top in Dee Gordon. The second baseman ranks fourth in the majors with a .328 batting average and is second with 50 stolen bases, behind only Billy Hamilton's 54. Third baseman Martin Prado is batting .284 with 52 RBIs and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is hitting .281 with 48 RBIs.

Right-hander Jarred Cosart will start tonight's series opener for the Fish. Cosart is 1-4 with a 5.04 ERA in nine starts over 10 appearances through an up and down season. Literally, he has been up and down throughout the Marlins roster and organization. After starting 1-3 with a 4.08 ERA over his first seven starts, Cosart went on the disabled list on May 19 with a case of vertigo. Upon his return from the DL, Cosart went to the bullpen for one outing and then was sent down to Triple-A New Orleans. He returned Sunday to make his first big league start since May 13 against the Mets. Cosart is 0-3 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts against the Nats.

Jose Fernandez started the season on the 60-day disabled list while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He made his season debut on July 2 against the Giants where he pitched six innings, gave up three runs on seven hits, struck out six and also hit a home run in a 5-4 win. Fernandez is 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his seven starts this season. He found himself back on the disabled list with bicep and shoulder tightness, but is in line to return to face the Nats on Saturday. His last win came against Washington on July 28 when he threw six innings while giving up four hits, one run, four walks and five strikeouts. He is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four career start against the Nationals.

Lefty Brad Hand will face the Nats for the second time in the past two weeks in Sunday's series finale at Marlins Park. He gave up eight hits, five runs, two walks, five strikeouts and a home run to Jayson Werth over 4 2/3 innings in a 7-4 loss on August 30. After going through an 11-game stretch from June to the beginning of August without a decision, Hand is 3-3 with a 5.94 ERA in his last six starts. He is 4-5 with a 5.20 ERA in seven starts over 10 appearances this season. Hand has never beaten the Nationals, going 0-6 with a 7.96 ERA in 10 appearances including eight starts.

As mentioned earlier, the Marlins are still looking to finish third in the NL East. They currently hold a 3 1/2-game lead over the fast-falling Braves, who are 5-25 in their last 30 games. It's not the finish the Fish were hoping for coming into 2015, but seeing how the season has gone for them, it could be worse.

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