Tonight the Marlins open their road series against one of the best teams in all of baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals. For the Marlins, who are starting to get hot, this will be an obvious test and will go a long way to gauging where they are at this point.
As the Braves continue to gump their way ahead in the NL East standings, the Marlins need to approach this series with the Cards as their coming out party just to keep pace. The Marlins also have another hot team to chase in the Wild Card, the Houston Astros.
The pitching is there for the Marlins. Beckett and Burnett have started to pitch up to their billing. Whether or not it was the trade rumors that fueled Burnett will be seen. Willis, the darling of the NL in the first half, had hit a rough patch just after it but had a very nice outing his last time out. Moehler and Valdez round out the Marlins rotation and offer quality starts each time out.
But for this series, there will be a test. The Marlins get to roll out their best on Tuesday (Willis), Wednesday (Beckett) and Thursday (Burnett) but will have to do so against one of the best offenses in baseball in recent memory. And the Marlins will have to do it with a banged up lineup of sorts – Alex Gonzalez is just now coming back from injury and Carlos Delgado’s status has yet to be determined.
The playoffs won’t be determined by this series, make no mistake. But this series will test the Marlins status right now as to whether or not they are seriously ready to take the next step and assert themselves in the pennant race. The hitting is there. The pitching is there. This team believes it can win and even has the rally socks on. We will know more about this team on Friday.