Sports

Jazz, Marlins in a battle to make the playoffs

The Miami Marlins, the South Florida team of Bahamian Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm, are surging, winners of nine of their last 15 games, and playing above .500 baseball in September, but they will have to finish even stronger if they want to end one of the longest playoff droughts in Major League Baseball (MLB).

They watched as the San Diego Padres ended a 14-year playoff drought on Sunday, and now, the Marlins want to pop their own champagne as they look to book their tickets to the playoffs. They have missed the playoffs for 16 straight seasons, dating back to their World Series run in 2003. Just the Seattle Mariners have a longer playoff drought in MLB – 18 straight seasons.

Going into last night’s game, the Marlins sat in sole possession of second place in the National League East Division behind the Atlanta Braves and were fifth overall.

However, making it to the postseason certainly won’t be an easy task. The top eight will get in but the numbers five through 10 teams in the National League are all separated by just a game and a half in the standings. Two of those teams will not get in. Chisholm and the Marlins lead that group with a 28-25 win-loss record, prior to last night’s game, but end the season with seven tough games on the road. Also in that mix is Bahamian Antoan Richardson and the San Francisco Giants. Richardson, a retired baseball player who was the sixth Bahamian to play in the majors, is currently a first base coach of the Giants. Chisholm is the seventh Bahamian to play in the majors, following in the footsteps of Richardson and five others.

Richardson and the Giants are tied with two other teams for eighth in the National League with a 26-26 record. Both they and the Marlins have to finish strong.

The Giants finish up with four games against the Colorado Rockies and four against the Padres. The Marlins have a four-game set in Atlanta against the Braves and then will travel to New York to play the New York Yankees on the weekend. They will likely have to win at least four of their final seven games to get into the playoffs. The Giants may have to win out.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Marlins this season. Hindered by a coronavirus outbreak at the onset of the shortened 60-game season, they shockingly won seven out of eight out of the gate, then dropped eight out of 10 including five straight. They’ve remained around the .500 mark ever since.

The Marlins haven’t had a day off since September 3, as they close the season with games on 24 straight days including a few doubleheaders. They close the season with 28 games in 24 days, but they haven’t let that deter them at all.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) agreed to a shortened 60-game season this year due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, there is an expanded 16-team postseason, which will allow some clubs an opportunity to recover from a shaky start and still get a shot at a World Series championship.

As for 22-year-old Chisholm, he was called up on September 1 and has played in 18 games for the Marlins.

Going into last night’s game, he was hitless in his last 16 at-bats and is batting .125 with one home run and three RBIs. He has six hits in 48 at-bats, five bases on balls, two stolen bases and has scored six runs. Chisholm has a .222 on-base percentage (OBP) and a .451 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

Defensively, Chisholm has 20 putouts, 39 assists, an error and has been a part of 12 double plays. He has a fielding percentage of 1.000 at second base and .952 at shortstop. Chisholm has started 10 games at second base this season and five at shortstop. His defense could be a major boost to the Marlins down the stretch and into the playoffs should they advance.

As mentioned, the Marlins will likely have to win at least four of their final seven games to get into the playoffs. With the Braves and the Yankees being two of the better teams in baseball, it certainly isn’t an easy task. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to hang on or not.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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