Marlins earned NLDS spot

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When prognosticating the National League East going into 2020, many had the Atlanta Braves finishing on top for a third consecutive season. That they did.

But along with them in the postseason scene, everyone had either the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and/or the defending world champion Washington Nationals, all three legitimate contenders.

The Miami Marlins, though? A franchise that had lost more than 200 games the last two years? Well, here they are — with the aid of a shortened 60-game format — as one of the National League’s remaining four teams left. And they have the chance to knock out the division’s distinct alpha dog.

Only the next pair of pitching matchups was revealed at press time, as the trickiness of having to play an entire series all in consecutive days takes its toll. This understandably has caused managers to think twice about how to use their starting rotation, but let’s try to at least get a beat on the ones that we know. Remember, also, that with baseball securing its own bubble, this series is emanating from Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Wednesday

Pablo Lopez vs. Ian Anderson: Like Atlanta’s Game 1 starter Max Fried did at the beginning of his career, Anderson has emerged out of the gate and solidified his standing near the top of the Braves rotation for years to come.

The 22-year-old made his Major League debut at the end of August — opposite the vaunted New York Yankees, no less — and surrendered just a mere hit (solo homer) in picking up the victory. Anderson has been sensational since, including in two assignments against this opponent.

Miami will counter with Lopez, who may not be one of the pitching staff’s biggest names but he has turned into a solid mid-rotation option. That cannot be argued after Lopez led the club in starts (11), wins (six) and innings (57.1) this season. However, with a volatile track record when dealing with Atlanta, it will be hard entrusting him to assist in a low score in Game 2. OVER

Thursday

Sixto Sanchez vs. Kyle Wright: There’s been a lot of buzz about Sanchez since making his MLB debut Aug. 22. After all, in his first five career starts, the flame-throwing right-hander let up only six runs total. He didn’t end the season in similar fashion based on his final two outings of the campaign, but he bounced back with five shutout frames in a real strong postseason debut to help down the Cubs.

Wright, meanwhile, yielded mixed results in his third year at the big-league level, ultimately finishing with a 5.21 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. Notably, in 19 career appearances (12 starts), Wright now owns a disastrous 6.22 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. Miami contributed to those marks this year with eight runs and 17 baserunners off Wright in just seven combined innings. We could see fireworks in Game 3. OVER

Last week: 2-0

Season: 6-3

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