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5 Biggest Issues Facing Miami Marlins in 2014 Stretch Run

5 Biggest Issues Facing Miami Marlins in 2014 Stretch Run

Miami Marlins v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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If you would have predicted in March that the Miami Marlins would be at .500 (65-65) in late August, most followers of MLB would have seriously doubted you. Such is the case. Though they are a long shot at this point, they're more on the NL Wild Card radar than teams like the Cincinnati Reds or New York Mets.

5. Tommy John Fernandez

Colorado Rockies v Miami Marlins
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5. Tommy John Fernandez

Colorado Rockies v Miami Marlins
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This is both an obvious and glaring exemption from their roster. The Marlins' best pitcher was shut down in early May to undergo the dreaded procedure. A Fernandez-less Marlins squad will be something that looms large down the stretch now that they are considered to be in a postseason race.

4. Atmosphere

San Diego Padres v Miami Marlins
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4. Atmosphere

San Diego Padres v Miami Marlins
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Surrounded by a warm climate, a brand new stadium and a 7.7 percent drop in ticket prices from the 2013 season, South Floridians still aren't lining up to take in ball games at Marlins Park. A vibrant, supportive home environment does wonders for a team chasing down a playoff berth. With the fourth-worst average attendance at home games in 2014, the Marlins could really use a spike in ticket sales for September.

3. Leaky Submariner

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies
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3. Leaky Submariner

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies
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Closer Steve Cishek was great in 2012 (15 SV, 2.69 ERA) and 2013 (34 SV, 2.33 ERA), but he has not been consistent in 2014. A capable closer is everything in close games through September. The 28-year-old side-arming submariner has a 3.81 ERA, and he has allowed an earned run or more in four of his eight appearances in August.

2. Inexperience

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks
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2. Inexperience

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks
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The Marlins sport the second youngest roster in all of MLB with an average age of 27.3 years, older only than the Houston Astros. No one in their starting rotation has ever pitched in the postseason. Only three players in their current starting lineup have played ball in October. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia brings the most playoff experience to the club from his years in Boston when he won the World Series last season.

1. Sabremetric Savior

Texas Rangers v Miami Marlins
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1. Sabremetric Savior

Texas Rangers v Miami Marlins
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If Stanton goes down, all bets are off. The slugger is carrying Miami's offense in 2014. His WAR of 6.5 ranks him second in all of MLB. When it comes to the sabremetric statistic of runs created as invented by Bill James, Stanton leads the league with a number of 108.2. That accounts for 20 percent of his team's total run production this season. The Marlins' success and hopes all hinge on Stanton's health and productivity.