Key for Marlins is figuring out way to reach 88 wins

MIAMI — If you’re the Marlins, you can’t dismiss what is happening in Washington. The best rotation in the sport is getting even better with the pending signing of Max Scherzer.

Not only is Scherzer a game changer, he very well could be a season changer. So much so that the Nationals are considered not just a lock to win the National League East, but a strong favorite to also reach the World Series.

So if you’re the Marlins, how do you survey the landscape leading into the start of Spring Training? Actually, you don’t divert off the path you’re already on.

If they make no additional moves, the Marlins have dramatically improved themselves. They’ve added speed in Dee Gordon, power in Michael Morse, starting pitching in Mat Latos and Dan Haren. Martin Prado is a proven veteran who takes over at third base. The club has added some experienced pitching depth with the acquisitions of David Phelps and Aaron Crow.

There is a lot to be excited about. Also, if the team remains as competitive as they think they will, Jose Fernandez will return midseason.

You can boldly state right now, if Fernandez is close to being what he was before Tommy John surgery, he will be the best midseason addition for any club in the Majors. It’s hard to imagine a player moving in a July trade who could make more of an impact than a healthy Jose. Jon Lester and David Price were midseason moves in ’14, and many would take Fernandez over both of them right now.

All this said, how does the N.L. East shape up?

Well, the Nationals won 96 games and won the East by 12 games in 2014. Throw Scherzer into the equation, and bar major injuries or disappointments, this looks like a 100-victories club ticketed for the World Series.

If you’re Miami, remember you won 77 games in ’14, a year in which Fernandez missed about five months and Giancarlo Stanton was out the final three weeks.

A realistic approach should be to improve by at least 11 games. If the Marlins can get to 88 wins, they will like their chances of being one of 10 playing in the postseason.

Guess how many games the Giants and Pirates won in ’14? You got it, 88. Those were the two N.L. Wild Card teams.

We all know which team caught fire at the right time, and went on to win the World Series.

In the American League, the A’s won 88 games and the Royals won 89 games. Those were your two Wild Card teams. Again, we know who represented the A.L. in the World Series.

So, regardless of whether Scherzer is in Washington or not, the Marlins still have to figure out how to at least 11 more games. If they get to 90, they increase their playoff chances even more.

Not that the team is conceding anything heading into the season. Over a long year, you never know. But the approach is to get at least 88 wins, no matter how.

Even though winning the division means not playing a one-game Wild Card playoff, reaching the postseason is the main objective. Once in, anything can happen.

The Giants and Royals proved that in ’14.

Joe Frisaro

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