NEW YORK -- The Marlins reached the second half of the season on Friday, and general manager Kim Ng believes the team is holding its own.
Entering Saturday’s action against the Mets, the Miami squad was 40-42 and only four games behind the Phillies for the third NL Wild Card spot.
“We'd always love to be better," Ng said. "I do think there are areas that we need to be better in, but I would say we are holding our own. Right now is a good test. We are playing a really good club [in the Mets].”
One of the areas Ng was referring to is the club's health. Miami is currently without two members of its core starting rotation -- Jesús Luzardo and Edward Cabrera -- due to injuries, while position players such as outfielder Jorge Soler and second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. have been on the shelf of late due to their own ailments. The Marlins are hoping that all four Major Leaguers are back after the All-Star break.
“Everything is going to revolve around being healthier,” Ng said.
Mattingly agreed with his GM. If Miami is going to fight for a Wild Card spot, the Marlins have to do it with what they have on the roster.
“We are not going to sit here knowing that we have 10 guys coming in from the Minor Leagues or we are going to go out and get somebody off a drop of a hat. We have to win with our guys for the most part,” Mattingly said.
The Marlins have a legitimate shot to win one of the three Wild Card spots. Mattingly believes the team has the pitching staff to win important games down the stretch. It helps they have Sandy Alcantara and Pablo López on the roster.
“We are going to be able to throw power arms at [opponents] down the stretch if we stay healthy,” Mattingly said.
After finishing a four-game series vs. the Mets on Sunday, the Marlins are likely to win their share of games the rest of the month, with series against the Pirates, Phillies and Reds. The Pirates have improved from last season, while the Reds have one of the worst records in the National League. Like Miami, Philly is in the Wild Card hunt. The Marlins do have one game against the Rangers following the All-Star break, and then they'll end the month by playing the Mets in Miami.
“I think anybody you play in the big leagues has a chance to beat you if you don’t come out to play and don’t play well,” Mattingly said. “We’ll see. I go back to the line: you play one game at a time.”
Mattingly acknowledged recently that he checks the standings all the time, knowing the Marlins are NL Wild Card contenders while also knowing that improvements have to be made the rest of the way.
“We have to be more consistent, honestly, with everything,” Mattingly said. “We have been fairly solid defensively all year, but we haven't scored consistently. But that has been the trend in baseball.
“I think just our general play has to be more consistent. We’ve had three [winning] streaks now of five, a six and a seven. But we really haven’t taken off with those streaks. Usually, if you can put those wins together, then you can start rattling off series and get consistent with your play where you are playing .600 baseball or whatever. That’s where we fell short. We’ve been hot. As we come out of those [winning streaks], we don’t sustain consistency. That’s where we are at right now. We’ll see where we go.”