Photo credit: Lynne Sladky/AP Images

Just over three weeks ago, the Marlins announced that Giancarlo Stanton would be out for at least six weeks, and most likely the rest of the MLB season, with a Grade 3 groin strain (a strain is classified as a Grade 3 if muscles are torn). When the Marlins made that announcement, they were tied with the Cardinals for the last wild card spot in the NL. Today, they are five games out and they’ve lost nine of their last ten. The rapidly diminishing chance that they sneak into one of the wild card chances got an unexpected boost this afternoon, when the team announced that Stanton would be returning from the DL and made active immediately.

This is twice as fast as even the most aggressive timeline for his return had him coming back to baseball, and no matter how many pictures the Marlins tweet of a hulked-out Stanton, there’s legitimate cause to be skeptical of how useful he’ll be. There are no plans to work him back into the full lineup just yet, and while him getting on base won’t necessitate the use of a pinch runner, he has been told to “run cautiously.”

The Marlins only have 24 games left to make up a five-game deficit and leapfrog three other teams, so bringing back Stanton this early is a big risk with only a small chance of paying off. He’s only 26, and their position in the NL playoffs is not so certain or even likely to account for the risk of the slugger tearing his hamstring off the bone or something. How much he’ll play is still up in the air, but if anything is certain, it’s that the Marlins are well and truly going for it.