5 things to know: Don't sleep on the Marlins in the NL wild card race

MIAMI — Don’t sleep on the Miami Marlins just yet.

Bolstered by a recent six-game winning streak, the Marlins are within striking distance in the National League wild card race.

Now, they first must get over the elusive .500 mark to seriously be in the playoff mix.

There is urgency in the next few weeks to stay in the chase before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

As the stakes rise, The Palm Beach Post reveals our latest five Marlins’ takeaways.

Manager Don Mattingly looking for consistency

It took a superhuman effort by superstar Shohei Ohtani to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 5-2 win on Wednesday, handing the Marlins their first loss in a week.

Getting blown out, 10-0 at the New York Mets on Thursday, dropped Miami another game back in the standings. Even with the setbacks, the Marlins have shown enough to the front office that this team has the ability to contend for a playoff spot.

Recent: Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani puts on a show for Miami Marlins fans

Podcast: Listen Now! Can the Marlins take advantage of expanded playoffs? It could be close

“We’ve put ourselves back in the wild-card race,” manager Don Mattingly said. “There’s still a lot of baseball to be played. So, the biggest thing now is to sustain. We’ve kind of gotten on a little bit of a roll. This is like our third time having a streak of over five games. But we haven’t been able to sustain it.”

MLB’s expanded playoffs (now 12 teams make it instead of 10) has given clubs close to .500 and above a chance.

Sandy Alcantara makes case to start All-Star Game

The bigger the moment, the more motivated Sandy Alcantara seems to become. You saw it again on Tuesday night in his win over the Angels.

Pumped to face the likes of former MVPs Mike Trout and Ohtani, the Marlins’ ace struck out 10 and scattered two hits in eight scoreless innings.

Sporting a 9-3 record and a 1.82 ERA, Alcantara paces the majors with 123 1/3 innings. Alcantara on Tuesday made a statement that he’s deserving to be the National League’s starting pitcher in the Midsummer Classic.

Another candidate is Los Angeles Dodgers’ right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who is 10-0 with an MLB-leading 1.54 ERA.

Remember, the game will be at Dodger Stadium, which could work in Gonsolin’s favor. Alcantara certainly is worthy of the big stage.

“I think in the past, there were games that Sandy was over-amped,” Mattingly said. “And he got out of his delivery and tried to do too much. I do think he gets excited about pitching against certain teams, or whatever. I think what he’s learned to do is keep his delivery.”

Trade targets Anthony Bass and Steven Okert

Will the Marlins be sellers or buyers? The simple answer is, they will be active.

Per sources, the club is looking for bullpen depth and at least one offensive player. Ideally, they’d like a center fielder, but foremost, a proven hitter will be a target.

The Marlins also may look to part with a big-league reliever or two. Anthony Bass and lefty Steven Okert have generated interest from other clubs. The question is, would the Marlins trade from their MLB roster and still be in a position to contend?

In terms of the bullpen, the answer is yes. The Marlins may seek to trade relievers to address other needs because they have bullpen depth in their farm system that could step in for the second half.

Andrew Nardi and George Soriano at Triple-A Jacksonville and Josh Simpson at Double-A Pensacola are in line for big-league promotions. Nardi and Simpson are lefties.

Rumors and realities for Pablo Lopez and Garrett Cooper

Less than a month from the trade deadline, and the rumor season is heating up. Already, there are rumblings that right-hander Pablo Lopez and first baseman/designated hitter Garrett Cooper could be dealt.

Both are having career-type seasons, and their trade value may never be higher.

The reality is, clubs have called on these two, and if they were made available, the Marlins could likely get strong returns. What’s also clear is, if either is moved, it diminishes the realistic chances of the Marlins staying in the playoff race.

Lopez, eligible for free agency in 2025, would likely be one of the most coveted pitchers on the trade market. Cooper, a free agent in 2024, would be a nice addition to a contender as a right-handed hitter and power threat.

“We didn’t build this like this to sell,” Mattingly said. “[Owner] Bruce [Sherman] has said to me early in the year, I’d love to be a buyer. So, you take him at his word. But we have to do our part.”

Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jorge Soler on the mend

Second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. (right lower-back strain) and outfielder Jorge Soler (bilateral pelvis inflammation) are each doing agility drills and running as part of their rehab at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

The hope is both will be back in a couple of weeks. One reason we’re hearing more about the Marlins being in the market for relievers rather than position players is that the organization is waiting to see how Chisholm and Soler progress.

If either is out longer than expected, the focus could switch from needing a center fielder to finding a middle infielder or power bat, regardless of position.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Marlins in striking distance of NL wild card race