Dan Straily doesn’t need to look at the standings to know the Marlins aren’t having a good season.
“I couldn’t tell you our record right now,” said the veteran pitcher for the Marlins. “I have no clue. I know what we’re not doing. We’re not leading the way.”
The Marlins are sitting in last place in the National League East with a record of 56-84, assuring a ninth consecutive losing season, the longest drought of any team in the majors.
But there’s also a chance they could finish with 100 or more losses, a stigma the Marlins hope to avoid.
“No one wants to be part of a 100-loss team,” Straily said. “Everyone in this room should want to avoid 100 losses. There’s only way not to do that.”
And that’s to win at least seven of their remaining 22 games.
Only two other Marlins teams lost as many as 100 games: the 1998 post-World Series outfit that went 54-108 and the 2013 team that finished 62-100. This Marlins team could join the 100-loss club.
They’re not the only major league team flirting with 100 losses.
The Kansas City Royals (46-93), Baltimore Orioles (41-99), Chicago White Sox (56-84) and San Diego Padres (55-86) aren’t out of the woods, with the Royals and Orioles all but certain to reach the century mark in defeats.
The Marlins have at least one thing going for them in their quest to duck 100: their end-of-season schedule isn’t all that challenging. They have only three games remaining against a playoff contender — Philadelphia — and play 19 of their remaining 22 games against teams with losing records.
On the other hand, the Marlins intend to give some of their recent September call-ups a look down the stretch as the franchise looks toward the future. Manager Don Mattingly won’t always be going with his optimum lineup. That could spell tough times ahead.
“At a certain point, your record doesn’t matter anymore,” Straily said. “It’s no secret. We’re not going to make the playoffs. We’re here as a group now trying to figure out who’s going to be a part of this thing [beyond this season].”
Still, no one wants to lose.
“It’s a lot more fun to be on the other end when you’re counting down your magic number than it is to be on this end when you’re talking about trying not to lose 100 games,” Straily said.
And Straily said if the number of losses is not as significant as simply missing the playoffs. If you don’t play in October, what’s the difference, in other words?
“Last year we had a second-place team,” Straily said of the 2017 Marlins, who were the N.L. East runner-ups despite a 77-85 record. “But were we, though?”
Straily is optimistic that the Marlins, while experiencing growing pains in new ownership’s rebuild, will turn it around in coming years, just as the Houston Astros did in going from three consecutive 100-loss seasons from 2011-13 to World Series champs last year.
Straily was on the 2015 Astros (86-76) when they were transitioning from bottom-dwellers to playoff contenders. He said he remembered talking with Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow about coping with their painful rebuild.
Straily said Luhnow told him he had vanity license plates put on his car that bore the team’s 51-111 record in 2013.
“That way, everyday when he started his car to go to the baseball field, he was reminded why he was doing this,” Straily said.
Straily said he has no intention of buying new license plates with the Marlins’ record after the season. But he sure doesn’t want the team to end up with 100 losses.
“Our season as a whole, it’s been a loss,” Straily said. “But it’s all part of the building process.”
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