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Mar 24, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) connects for a base hit during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Season Preview: Miami Marlins

Opening day is set for April 5th and the Miami Marlins enter this season looking to remain healthy improve upon their third place finish in the National League East, a deep 20 games under .500.

The Marlins start off the season projected to finish very similar to last year at third in the NL East at 79-83 (ESPN).

The key difference and word here is healthy.

Let us not forget the success of this team centers largely around ace Jose Fernandez and slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who both missed large portions of the 2015 season. Fernandez showed a successful return on the mound from 2014 Tommy John surgery in the second half of the season, posting a 2.92 ERA over 11 starts.

But as Fernandez returned, Stanton suffered a season-ending broken hand. Stanton kept the Marlin’s offense alive with 27 home runs, 67 RBIs, and a .346 on base percentage.  Fast-forward to 2016 opening day; Stanton’s hamate bone will be fully healed and Fernandez returns another year removed from surgery.

Mar 24, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Adam Conley (right) talks with Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (left) near the pitchers mound during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Adam Conley (right) talks with Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (left) near the pitchers mound during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As these two stars can be the largest strength for the Marlins, it can also be their biggest weakness if they don’t stay healthy. Miami will look for support elsewhere, starting at the mound.

The Marlins were relatively quiet in terms of new additions in the offseason, except for the addition of left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin-Chen. This durable veteran fills a reliable hole in Miami’s bullpen, compiling a 46-32 record with a 3.72 ERA in his 117 starts in the big league.

Last season, the Marlin’s compiled a 4.02 ERA, with the starters sitting at a 4.25 mark and the relievers at 3.66.

The pitching rotation is set:

1. Wei-Yin Chen

2. Jose Fernandez

3. Adam Conley

4. Tom Koehler

5. Jarred Cosart

If Miami wants to be successful this year they are going to have to build upon last year’s 3.8 runs per game average (the league’s second worst, right behind the Braves) with a much improved lineup. While the Marlins aren’t known for being a slugging team (Stanton aside), they did manage to finish in the middle of the pack with their .326 OBP last season. But getting on base is useless unless it turns into runs and Stanton should have plenty of opportunities to drive in All-Star Dee Gordon, who averaged .333 last season with 205 hits and 88 runs, and Christian Yelich, who averaged .300 with 143 hits and 63 runs.

According the MLB.com here is the projected opening day lineup:

Miami Marlins
1Dee Gordon 2B
2Christian Yelich LF
3Giancarlo Stanton RF
4Michael Morse 1B
5Martin Prado 3B
6Marcell Ozuna CF
7Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
8Adeiny Hechavarria SS

The Marlins will see a fresh look from the men in charge.

Miami adds it’s forth manager since 2012, with the the addition of former Dodger’s manager Don Mattingly, who offers five years of managerial experience in his 446-363 career. Former slugger Barry Bonds was also hired to help rejuvenate the offense alongside veteran Frank Menechino.

Mattingly talks about how he used Spring Training to help determine the lineup.

The Miami Marlins will open up the season at home on April 5 against the Detroit Tigers at 7:10 p.m.

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