Opposite dugout: Stanton making MVP case during Marlins' wild card push

marlins-logo.jpgManager: Don Mattingly (2nd season)

Record: 66-63

Last 10 games: 8-2

Who to watch: RF Giancarlo Stanton (.296/.389/.670 with 50 HR, 108 RBIs), LF Marcell Ozuna (.309/.377/.556 with 31 HR, 102 RBIs), 2B Dee Gordon (.292 with 46 stolen bases), RHP José Ureña (12-5, 3.68 ERA), RHP Brad Ziegler (4.61 ERA, 9 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 6-7

Pitching probables:

Aug. 28: RHP José Ureña vs. RHP Max Scherzer, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 29: RHP Vance Worley vs. RHP Edwin Jackson, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 30: LHP Adam Conley vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg, 4:05 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Marlins:

It's an age-old question, one that Nationals fans debated not too long ago: Can a league MVP come from a team that doesn't make the playoffs? Obviously, the honor is awarded to an individual player for his personal efforts throughout the course of a major league season. But how valuable can he be if his team isn't one of the five to reach the postseason?

Bryce Harper became the youngest unanimous league MVP in 2015 when the Nationals failed to reach the postseason. And this season, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is making a strong case to become the second such National League MVP in the last three seasons, assuming he can't lead the Fish to October baseball for the first time since winning the World Series in 2003. While his batting average has improved to .296, his .670 slugging percentage, 1.059 OPS and home run tear are catching the voters' eyes. Stanton leads the majors with 50 home runs, 13 more than the Yankees' Aaron Judge. Stanton already has 24 homers in this second half, when he had 26 total in the first half, and has 17 in August, the most he's had in a single month this year. He went through a six-game home run streak earlier this month and is posting a 1.482 OPS in August. And this is the earliest a player has reached 50 home runs since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in 2001.

Stanton - who many consider a tormenter of Nationals pitching - is only batting .220 with just four longballs against the Nats this season. Although, three of those four have come in D.C. So the right fielder may need to look for some help from his teammates for the Marlins to have a chance to close in on the Nats' 12-game lead in the division and the Rockies' 4 1/2-game lead in the wild card race. Luckily for him, there are plenty other Marlins who are lighting it up this month. Left fielder Macell Ozuna is putting together the best campaign of his career, slashing .309/.377/.556 with a career-high 31 home runs and 102 RBIs. And speedy second baseman Dee Gordon continues to rank second in the NL with 46 stolen bases to go along with his .292 average. These hot bats have helped the Marlins win eight of their last 10 games and go 16-8 in August.

José Ureña has been the Marlins' best starter this season, bringing his team-leading 12-5 record and 3.68 ERA to the series opener at Nats Park. Just like the rest of the team, the right-hander has been dominant this month, going 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA in four August starts. Ureña did take a tough-luck loss in his only start agianst the Nats this year when he pitched eight innings of one-run ball on three hits with six strikeouts on July 31. Vance Worley takes another shot at the Nats on Tuesday night. The right-hander went 2-0, giving up just one run on eight hits in 13 innings, over back-to-back starts against the Nationals earlier this month. Those two victories are Worley's only on the season, as he has a 5.98 ERA in 10 starts but a 1.20 ERA in three appearances against Washington. Adam Conley takes the hill for Wednesday's matinee finale with a 6-5 record and 5.17 ERA. The southpaw wasn't as fortunate in his lone start against the Nats this year, getting lit up for five runs on 11 hits in just five innings on Aug. 9.

Brad Ziegler rounds off the Fish who are on fire this month. Since coverting back to the closer's role since the depature of AJ Ramos just before the trade deadline, the right-hander has converted all nine of his save opportunities without allowing a run and giving up just nine hits. Righty Kyle Barraclough has also done well in the setup role with a 3.00 ERA and 20 holds.

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