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Marlins, Tigers creating interesting standings early

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If you wanted chaos in this abbreviated baseball season, you’re already getting it. The question is: How long it will last?

If the playoffs started Monday, the Marlins and Tigers would be in, while last year’s pennant winners — the Nationals and Astros — would not. It still feels early, but some teams have played over a quarter of their 60-game schedules.

Now for the reality check: Even after their impressive starts, Miami and Detroit have a long way to go.

According to FanGraphs, the Marlins (7-3) still have only a 22.9% chance of making the 16-team postseason field. The Tigers (8-5) have a 32.4% chance. So while a good start could mean more than usual this season, heavy underdogs still have a lot to prove.

Miami was quite a story this past week. After finally returning from their layoff brought on by a coronavirus outbreak, the Marlins promptly won their first four games back. That franchise has never won a division title and also has never lost a postseason series, so if the Marlins take advantage of the expanded playoffs this year, it would feel oddly appropriate.

Detroit is hoping for big things from its pitching prospects in the years to come, and promoting right-hander Casey Mize — the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft — could give the Tigers a boost this season.

A word of caution, though: Miami’s run differential is plus-4, and Detroit’s is even. They’ve surprised, but hardly dominated.

As for the Astros and Nationals, Houston (6-9) still has an 80.3% chance of making the playoffs according to FanGraphs. Only Oakland has gotten off to a good start in the AL West. The Astros are already 5½ games behind the first-place Athletics, but second place also secures a postseason spot this year.

The Nationals haven’t been as fortunate. They’re last in the NL East, and their playoff chances are down to a near coin flip — 51%.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”