Dan Straily did something over the weekend he hadn’t done all season. He stole a peek at the scoreboard.
“Yesterday was the first time I looked to see how the teams in front of us did,” Straily said after the Marlins knocked off the Mets, inching closer to .500 and climbing one more rung in the National league wild-card playoff standings.
The Marlins might be 60-62, still trying to dig themselves out of the hole that their awful May put them in. But they’re only six games out in the wild-card race.
They’re entering the conversation.
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Based on simulation models, they now have about a 1-in-15 chance of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2003. It’s like coming up heads on four consecutive coin flips. Or rolling an 11 with a throw of two dice.
Although the odds are hardly favorable, they’re a lot better than your chances of winning Powerball. And they’re getting better by the day. A week ago, they were given less than a 1 percent chance.
In case you haven’t noticed, the Marlins have been on a roll. Since May 28, over a span of about a half-season’s worth of games, they own the fifth-best record in the majors.
Giancarlo Stanton is swatting homers at a ridiculous rate (he hit his 45th on Sunday), and the Marlins have been riding them to victories.
People are starting to take notice.
“It would be kind of hard not to notice,” Marlins utility infielder Mike Aviles said. “I mean, with ‘G’ hitting homers pretty much every day, there’s an eye on at least him. They look at him and realize, ‘Hey, they won. And they won again.’ ”
If the Marlins are to have any chance, they’re going to have to keep on winning at a high clip and hope that the teams in front of them stumble. Not only are they chasing Colorado and Arizona, the two wild-card leaders, but the Brewers and Cubs are also ahead of them.
They have this much going in their favor: of their remaining 40 games, 25 come against teams with losing records. And they play 11 of their next 24 games, starting on Tuesday, against the hapless Philadelphia Phillies, who own the worst record in the majors.
“That carrot out in front of us is still there,” said Straily, who will take the mound in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader in Philadelphia. “By no means are we out of this thing.”
He might not have been saying that last month when the Marlins were lagging so far behind that the front office traded away a pair of key bullpen pieces in David Phelps and A.J. Ramos. They traded shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in May.
Now they may be wishing they had those players back. If the Marlins manage to climb over the .500 hump in the coming week, owner Jeffrey Loria and the team’s baseball executives might feel pressured to acquire late-season pitching help. Aug. 30 is the trade deadline for players who can be used in the postseason.
But that’s getting ahead of things.
For now, the Marlins are creeping into the outer fringes of the playoff discussion. They could just as easily be sent back to the curb if they stub their toes against the Phillies — or anyone else.
“We’re still six games back, which is a lot of ground to make up,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “But we’re not 10 back like we were two weeks ago. We’re heading in the right direction. It’s definitely encouraging to know we’re at least in the conversation now.”
Shortstop Miguel Rojas said if the Marlins can pull to within three games going into the final week of the season, when they head off to face Colorado and Arizona, it could turn serious.
“If we can get to that point, we’re going to have a better picture,” Rojas said.
Straily likens it to a poker game.
“All you need is a chip and a chair and you have a chance to win,” Straily said. “And we have that. We’ve got our chance.”
▪ Tuesday: (1st game of doubleheader) — Marlins RHP Dan Straily (7-8, 3.80) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (9-8, 3.26), 4:10 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
▪ Tuesday: (2nd game of doubleheader) — Marlins RHP Jose Urena (11-5, 3.61) at Phillies (to be announced or Nola), 7:35 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
NL wild-card Standings
*Through Sunday’s games