The Miami Marlins need to shrug off last night’s historic drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. And they need to do that quickly, because the Marlins return to Miami to face the waiting Philadelphia Phillies for seven games in five days.
The Marlins’ playoff push stands a stout test in the second-place Phillies. At 19-19, Miami enters with an opportunity to not only solidify its playoff position, but also overtake Philadelphia in the standings.
The Marlins are 5-5 over their last ten games. Philadelphia’s play has improved of late, as they’ve rattled off 12 wins in their last 16 games to vault up the standings, passing the Marlins in the process.
Marlins, Phillies Start Seven-Game Series
The Marlins and Phillies are playing a seven-game series thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak that affected the club back in July. MLB scrambled to rearrange the schedule and settled on this 7-game series (a first in Marlins history) which includes a pair of doubleheaders.
The Phillies will start veteran RHP Jake Arrieta (3-4, 5.67 ERA) on Thursday. Arrieta marks the ninth former Cy Young Award winner to start against the Marlins this season. Miami is 3-5 in those starts, including recent wins against Jacob deGrom and Blake Snell.
But Arrieta has had success in Marlins Park before, going 6-1 in seven career starts with a 3.40 ERA. In his career against the Marlins, Arrieta holds a 8-1 record with a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts.
This season, the Marlins are 2-1 against the Phillies. On Opening Day, RHP Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 3.78 ERA) beat the Phillies 5-2. He allowed three hits, two walks and two runs while striking out seven over 6.2 innings. Alcantara landed on the IL shortly thereafter, but he regained his rhythm in his last start. Against Tampa Bay, Alcantara went six innings and allowing just three hits and one run while striking out eight.
Keys to the Marlins, Phillies Series
The Marlins enter this crucial seven games in five days stretch with one of their top pitchers on the mound. In five career starts against the Phillies, Alcantara has been really good, posting a 4-1 record with a 2.51 ERA.
As a staff, Miami’s starters have a 4.11 ERA this season, 11th-best in MLB. They were top-10 in ERA prior to Pablo Lopez‘s struggles last night. Former Philly farmhand Sixto Sánchez has allowed his opponent to score in just three of his 25.0 innings this season. He’s struck out 25 batters combined over his first four starts.
In Marlins franchise history, only Dontrelle Willis (26) has fanned more batters through his first four career starts. That said, Trevor Rogers has 21 strikeouts through his first three starts, so we’ll see.
Phillies starters have posted a 4.01 ERA overall. But if take out Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, the other starters (Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez) have a combined 5.34 ERA.
Where the Marlins have a clear advantage is the bullpen. Prior to last night’s game, Miami had a 4.29 bullpen ERA, which was 13th-best in baseball. After Jordan Yamamoto’s implosion, though, the ERA sits at 5.27 (26th). All told, Marlins relievers coughed up 22 runs (20 earned) in last night’s debacle.
Even so, it’s the Phillies who sport MLB’s worst bullpen this season with a 7.24 ERA. Despite making a number of trades for bullpen arms at the deadline, Philadelphia still struggles in that department.
If the Marlins can post runs against Philly starters, they’ll be in great shape. And comebacks are certainly possible against Philadelphia relievers.
Finding Some Offense at Marlins Park
Miami holds a 17-10 record on the road this season, but they’ve struggled to win at home (2-9). The Phillies are 6-8 on the road this year. For the Marlins, they’ll need to find a way to put up five runs. The team is 11-2 this season when scoring at least five runs.
Miami hits just .234 at home, with a .288 on-base percentage and a .622 OPS. Not great. Jesus Aguilar has reached base safely in 9-of-10 career games at Marlins Park, going 10-for-40 (.250) with five walks, and there are several Marlins players who have performed historically well against Philadelphia.
The Phillies have hit .249 on the road, with a .288 on-base percentage and a .659 OPS. While Rhys Hoskins has been the offensive engine of late, Bryce Harper has struggled. In his last 15 games, Harper is batting .143 and slugging .163 with no homers and a .502 OPS.
Clutch Two-Out Rallies
The Marlins are batting .268 (114-for-426) this season with two outs, the fourth-highest mark in the Majors and second in the NL behind the Padres (.269).
Miami’s .366 on-base percentage with two outs is tops in the Majors in 2020. The Marlins have scored 48.5 percent of their runs this season with two outs (82-of-169), the highest such percentage in the Majors.
Rivalry Bringing Out the Best
The Marlins are 2-1 against the Phillies this year after they went 10-9 against them in 2019. All told, Miami is 12-12 against NL East opponents in 2020, while the Phillies are 17-9 against the division. Winning this series would hurt a division rival and solidify Miami’s playoff position.
And no one has enjoyed playing the Phillies more than Miguel Rojas. He sports a nine-game hit-streak against the Phillies, going 18-for-37 (.486), including a 3-for-4 effort with a home run and four RBIs in his last game against Philly on July 24.
Jorge Alfaro also plays well against the Phillies. He owns .432 (19-for-44) batting average in 13 career games versus Philadelphia, with two doubles, three homers and five RBI. Brian Anderson, meanwhile, has posted a .349 batting average (22-for-63) and a 1.128 OPS (4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI) over his last 17 games versus the Phillies.
One player who needs to get going is Starling Marte, who’s managed just a .200 batting average (7-for-35) with two home runs and four RBI in the eight games since the trade deadline.