The Miami Marlins have played 120 games and are in the mix for a playoff spot as the season winds down.
A year after losing 100 games, the Marlins find themselves with 59 wins and 42 games left to play. This means that Miami would have to go 3-39 the rest of the way to match last season's record.
The Marlins have accomplished all of this without their ace, Jose Fernandez for most of the season. Fernandez was lost to Tommy John surgery back in May and is not expected back until the All-Star break in 2015 at the earliest.
The Marlins just completed a stretch of games against difficult opponents and they weathered the storm. 23 of the first 26 games following the All-Star Game were against teams that did not have a losing record. In those games, Miami went 15-11 which was the best such mark in the National League East according to Marlins' radio broadcaster Glenn Geffner.
Miami currently stands at seven games back in the division. It's not an insurmountable amount of games to make up but there are two teams ahead of the Marlins. Both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals have better records. Miami has games with both of those clubs remaining and can help itself with wins in those series.
In the Wild Card race, it gets more interesting. While the Marlins are only 4.5 games back of the second spot, they also trail four teams for it. The St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds are all vying for it. The Pittsburgh Pirates hold the top Wild-Card spot with a half-game lead.
The Marlins are two games under .500 but it may not take 90 wins to make the playoffs this year. It is realistically possible that a win total in the mid-to-high 80s could be enough to snatch a Wild-Card this season.
In September, the Marlins have a stretch of 17 games without an off-day. Mixed in there are games with both the Nationals and the Braves. If Miami can manage to stay in the race until that point, it could be the stretch that ultimately decided their fate.
It won't be an easy task for the Marlins to make the playoffs but almost half-way into August, they find themselves in the discussion. A vast improvement over 2013 seems inevitable at this point and it could also mean some time in October.