Almost eight weeks into the season, the Miami Marlins sit in third place in the NL East. With a record of only 27-22, underachieving may be the right word for this team after all the hype they received before the season started.
After a slow start to the season, the Marlins have heated up in the month of May, showing teams why they are a threat. With the NL East becoming the most competitive division in the National League this year, the Marlins will need to have all the parts moving perfectly to win the East.
Certainly the Marlins have all the pieces to win the East, but will the Marlins buckle down like they did in May for the rest of the season or will they fold?
Here are five reasons to believe the Marlins can win the East.
With Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, and Emilio Bonifacio, the Marlins have speed on the basepaths. With over 40 stolen bases combined, the Marlins have runners in scoring position more frequently.
Unlike the old baseball adage that says pitching wins games, runs are really what win games. Currently first in the league in stolen bases, the Marlins have many opportunities to bring the runner home.
While the Marlins rank 20th in the league in runs scored, look for the Marlins to improve in that category once Reyes and Ramirez heat up.
With already nine blown saves, manager Ozzie Guillen is puzzled finding a reliable closer.
Look for Heath Bell to regain his form and close out games effectively after his horrendous start in a Marlins jersey. While many fans are calling for a new closer do not forget that he successfully converted 41 straight saves from 2010-2011.
Playoff teams have top closers, and Bell is one of the best currently in the league, regardless of what has occurred this season.
The Marlins have a very good rotation of well established starters, who are capable of the workload of a 162 game season.
Regardless of some poor starts, the Marlins have a good 1-5 rotation, something many teams do not have.
Josh Johnson is as good as any pitcher in the league and will dominate the rest of the season, regardless of his slow start this season. With an ERA and WHIP currently above his career average, it is only a matter of time before Johnson will regain his form.
Mark Buerhle, already having a very good season, is showing no signs of struggle after switching leagues. With him and Carlos Zambrano as the only pitchers in the rotation with playoff experience, you can expect them to bear down as the season nears its end.
Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco are also very solid, middle rotation pitchers that win games, making this Marlins rotation one of the best they have had in years, capable of winning the East.
As mentioned earlier, once Reyes and Ramirez heat up, the Marlins lineup will be menacing, with Giancarlo Stanton and Omar Infante already putting up very good numbers so far this season.
Infante is playing well above expectations, batting .321. The Marlins could potentially have three .300 hitters by seasons end, if Reyes and Ramirez play like their former selves.
Power is something the Marlins need not worry either, with Stanton already hitting 12 home runs. Ramirez and Logan Morrison will also have over 20 home runs by season's end.
If the lineup plays up to their potential, the Marlins can be the Texas Rangers of the National League, solid pitching with an offense able to win games.
We have seen the Tampa Bay Rays dominate after their major change, and one can only think it can happen again with the Miami Marlins.
Maybe all that was needed for the Miami Marlins was a fresh start. After their new stadium and new name, the Marlins went out and got a roster capable of winning the East. On paper the Marlins are stacked with marquee talent, with the Atlanta Braves as possibly the only other team in the East that can match up with the Marlins.
With a slow start to the season, the Marlins are heating up, showing why their club was one of the most hyped Marlins club in years.