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Know Your Enemy: Miami Marlins

This team always looks good on paper. But games are not played on paper.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — One of these years, Giancarlo Stanton won’t get hurt and will have that monster year everyone’s been projecting for him pretty much since the day he came to the big leagues.

Stanton has played more than 123 games twice in his seven-year career. The injuries range from a broken hamate in his hand to a groin injury to being hit in the face with a pitch.

You cannot ignore a man with a lifetime .539 slugging percentage, which ranks fifth among all active players who have as many PA as he does (Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Braun are the others, pretty good company). And that ranks 35th among all players, active or not, with that many career PA.

The Marlins have some other pretty good hitters: Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Martin Prado and former Cubs farmhand Justin Bour. Those guys drove Cubs pitchers nuts in Marlins Park last year. Only it might not be “Marlins Park” by the time the Cubs get there in June; ownership says they hope to have a naming-rights deal in place by the All-Star break.

Marlins pitching is now anchored by Wei-Yin Chen, who they hope is healthy this year (he made only 22 starts last year), and Edinson Volquez, signed as a free agent. They also picked up ex-Cub Dan Straily, who had a good year for the Reds in 2016.

A.J. Ramos is the Marlins closer, and he can be really, really good when he throws strikes. Often that isn’t the case, as he walked 4.9 per nine innings last year and threw six wild pitches, one of which won a game for the Cubs at Wrigley last August.

The Marlins are one of those teams which, to me, is just sort of “there” — you never really think of them as a serious contender, but they’re just good enough to not be laughingstock-bad. Their field managing situation has stabilized a bit under Don Mattingly, but rumors have flown lately about the team being sold. (Which would actually be a good thing, getting Jeffrey Loria out of baseball once and for all.)

The Cubs and Marlins will play their entire season series in a three-week span.

June 5-6-7 at Wrigley
June 22-23-24-25 at Miami