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 »This Week in History
Miami Marlins

  Inside Pitch | Notes, Quotes | Roster Report | Player News

There is a huge collective hole in the heart of Miami Marlins coaches, players and fans, and there is a similarly sized chasm in their rotation.

The death late last season of ace pitcher Jose Fernandez caused that spiritual wound as well as that void on the mound, and it's nearly impossible to see the 2017 Marlins as a playoff team without him.

This is a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2003 and has been stuck at 70-something wins in each of the past three years.

The Marlins added Edinson Volquez and Dan Straily to their rotation, and brought in a couple of relievers, most notably Brad Ziegler. But, mostly, this is the same team that won 79 games last year, minus their superstar pitcher in the late, great Jose.

Spring training has been relatively uneventful except for the hamstring injury that starting third baseman Martin Prado suffered while competing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Miami's young starting lineup is the strength of the team, with speedy Dee Gordon batting leadoff, emerging star Christian Yelich in the three-hole and feared slugger Giancarlo Stanton batting cleanup.

The bullpen has the potential to be above average. If that happens, it could mask some of the flaws of a below-average rotation.

But if the Marlins fall short of the playoffs yet again, at least Yelich and Stanton can take solace in the fact that they won a championship with Team USA in the WBC earlier this month.

"Pop bottles for America," Yelich told The Miami Herald regarding his team's champagne celebration. "It was the most fun I've ever had playing baseball."

Don't look for 2017 to be nearly that much fun for the Marlins.

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