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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:25 AM

In the six games played from June 5th to June 10th, the Miami Marlins lost three times to Atlanta, and three times to Tampa Bay, by a combined score of 38-10. This is a CONTENDER in the NL East who had been 31-23 heading into the stretch…and that’s one time through the rotation so we had a team staff collapse.

Miami is a team we’ve been watching closely from the outset this year. We haven’t had a chance to talk much about them because so much NOTEBOOK coverage has involved the high profile NBA team from that same city. There was a lot of excitement about the Marlins before the season started because of personnel changes in the lineup and in the dugout, as well as the opening of their new stadium. Many respect “behind the scenes” market movers thought Miami was going to be the dominant team in the NL East this season. You probably read articles in early April about Vegas moneylines getting pounded with Miami money out of the gate.

Of course, Miami was a big disappointment out of the gate…so they fell off the radar for a bit. THEN THEY GOT HOT! It’s been an up-and-down season to say the least…with plenty of mystery as to what causes the ups and what causes the downs.

Let’s do a quick review of the season so far…

 

EARLY WOES

Perhaps overwhelmed by all the early season hype, the Marlins stumbled out of the gate pretty badly.

*They dropped their nationally televised season opener on their new home field to St. Louis.

*They dropped two of three in Cincinnati to fall to 1-3 after the opening weekend

*They dropped two of three in Philadelphia in what was supposed to be a “message sending” series for the new kid in town in the NL East. Instead, the new kid was 2-5 after the first week of action…and respected Vegas Wise Guys had taken a hit with all of their early support.

*They struggled to win two of three against the lowly Houston Astros…with both victories coming in extra innings. They couldn’t win a single nine-inning game at home against somebody as bad as Houston!

*A sweep of the horrific Chicago Cubs brought Miami over .500…which was more a reflection of getting Houston and the Cubs at the right time rather than turning anything around. The team was now 7-6 though, and had a chance to send some more messages in the division with Washington and the NY Mets on deck.

*They lost two straight in Washington before the third game was rained out.

*They got swept in New York by the Mets, scoring just four total runs in the three games combined, and managing only six total runs in the five games vs. Washington and the Mets. The team was now 7-11, and had played horribly vs. the teams they needed to beat most in their division.

*Reaching the nadir of their season, Miami lost three of four at home to Arizona…a disappointing team this year from the NL West. Miami was sitting at 8-14…and multiple media articles were talking about “the same old Marlins.” They were playing like a doormat. The hype was all for not. This was still a 90-loss team regardless of the new players, new stadium, and sharp new uniforms.

 

THE EXPLOSION

Well, we told you at the top that Miami was 31-23 entering that five-game debacle from recent days. You can do the math. They went from 8-14 to 31-23, which means they were 23-9 over a 32-game stretch. From doormat to the best team in the National League in a fingersnap!

In order:

3-0 at San Francisco

3-0 at San Diego

2-1 at Houston (that’s 8-1 on the road!)

2-1 vs. NY Mets

1-1 vs. Pittsburgh

1-1 vs. Atlanta

2-1 vs. Cleveland

2-1 vs. Colorado

2-2 vs. San Francisco

3-0 vs. Washington

2-1 vs. Philadelphia

Wow…8-3 within the division to make up for those April issues…and consistent dominance when they were facing inferior teams. This is what championship baseball looks like. Miami was suddenly the best team in the National League’s best division…and they were winning up and down the rotation. The early Wise Guy sentiment had been vindicated. Miami was the team to watch in the NL this year…it just took them longer than expected to get rolling.

 

THE SLUMP

That brings us to the six-game annihilation at the hands of Atlanta and Tampa Bay in the last few days. As ugly as it gets. Given the caliber of opposition, those losses don’t disqualify Miami as a contender in the NL East. Maybe you can’t think of them as World Series material just yet given blowout HOME losses to the Rays. But, we could still be looking at a team that’s better than almost all of the NL Central and NL West…and likely to at least hold their own within the East.

For handicappers…the immediate question concerns what Miami will do against the AL East over the next few weeks. Monday Night’s home game vs. Boston could tell us a lot because the Red Sox are kind of a tweener team right now. Boston isn’t playing like a contender…but they are in the sports toughest division and have posted some good results vs. non-contenders.

Here’s what’s ahead for the Marlins
Tonight-Wednesday: vs. Boston (tonight’s game on ESPN)

Friday-Sunday: at Tampa Bay (tough spot, but revenge could be sweet)

Tuesday-Thursday: at Boston (rare return series vs. non-rival)

Friday-Sunday: vs. Toronto

Well, they miss the Yankees and the Orioles…but they do draw six games with Boston in what might be a down year for the Sox.

If the Marlins struggle tonight vs. Boston…then this could be a very ugly two week stretch for them. If they can establish that they’re better than Boston…then maybe the bumps and bruises from this first Tampa Bay series will be forgotten in short order.

There are only four games on the Monday Night card…but it’s a strong schedule nonetheless with Boston-Miami, NY Yankees-Atlanta, and LA Angels-LA Dodgers presenting what might be playoff style baseball. JIM HURLEY will post his strongest plays from the Monday choices right here at this website a few hours before first pitch. Then, NETWORK will come back Tuesday for more baseball and…of course…night one of the NBA Finals featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat.

If you have any questions about longterm service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. This is a GREAT day to discuss possibilities with a representative because of the light schedule. Get your ducks in a row for when the intensity really picks up on Tuesday.

Back with you tomorrow with our official stat preview for the NBA Championships. Oklahoma City-Miami presents some unique challenges to handicappers because of the explosive talent on the floor and the varied schedules these teams have had to face. Miami has some impressive numbers, but they only had to play seeds 3-4-7 in the easier Eastern brackets…while Oklahoma City was surprisingly dominant against the 1-3-7 seeds in the tougher Western brackets. And, their full season stats must be adjusted for strength of schedule given the differences in conferences too.

In other words…DON’T MAKE A MOVE UNTIL YOU HEAR WHAT JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY…because, when championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY! 

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