What a beautiful weekend it was at Citizens Bank Park, which saw the Phillies sweep out the Atlanta Braves in a three-game series. Winners of five of six, the Phils are getting timely pitching, from both the starters and relievers, as well as timely hitting. The Phils offense may not be a juggernaut, but key hits in key moments have translated into wins.
The Marlins have been somewhat of a surprise entering Tuesday’s series with a 10-8 record. The organization did all they could to replace Jose Fernandez by signing Edinson Volquez, who was the opening-day starter for Miami, and trading for former Reds starter Dan Straily in the offseason.
What to expect
Expect the Phillies to keep playing good baseball. The Marlins are by no means the Mets or Nationals, which means the Phillies could easily have their way. However, the Phils aren’t good enough to overlook Miami, either. The Marlins are second in the National League in team batting average (.260) and fifth in home runs (25). Both J.T. Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna are off to torrid starts for the visitors. Realmuto is hitting .344 and is second on the team with 21 hits. Ozuna is hitting .306 with six homers and an MLB-leading 21 RBI. Giancarlo Stanton is doing his usual damage, leading the team with seven home runs.
Well, for Vince Velasquez, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up. The 24-year-old’s previous outing in New York showed vast improvement from his first two starts of the year. Velasquez was much more economical and pitching to more contact (he only struck out two batters). The right-hander threw just 84 pitches in six innings, but not after Jay Bruce tagged Velasquez with the go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth. Velasquez has a career 2.50 ERA in three career starts vs. Miami, something he can hang his hat on.
Wei-Yin Chen can be really on … or really off. His last start, he was really on. He carried a no-hitter through seven innings in Seattle before being lifted with 100 pitches. In Chen’s previous two outings he pitched a total of nine innings, yielding 14 hits and seven earned runs.
It’s likely Pete Mackanin keeps Daniel Nava’s stick in the lineup as he sports .417 average in 18 at-bats against Chen. Does it come at the expense of Tommy Joseph? Because Aaron Altherr is pleading his case as an everyday outfielder.
Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., Edinson Volquez (0-2, 4.82 ERA) vs. TBD (most likely Nick Pivetta, debut)
The Phillies could call up an arm from triple-A after Aaron Nola was placed on the disabled list Monday (retroactive April 21). The Phils could call up a number of guys, but Nick Pivetta has earned the promotion thus far. He has an ERA south of 1.00 in 19 innings pitched for Lehigh Valley.
Volquez has been subpar to date, not completing five innings in each of his last two starts while surrendering eight walks. His WHIP this season is 1.66. But the well-traveled vet has pitched well against the Phils in his last five starts, posting a 2.25 ERA.
If the Cy Young Award was given in early April, Jeremy Hellickson is certainly worthy. Hellickson is tied for the NL lead in wins — three — and stands alone for the lead in WHIP at 0.71. He’s earning that $17.2 million.
The Phillies cannot figure out Adam Conley. In Conley’s last five starts against the Phils – dating back to 2015 – the righthander is 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA. The Phils have compiled 38 baserunners in the 30.2 innings Conley has pitched, but can’t do damage. With the offensive in a rhythm, perhaps Thursday is the day the Phils break through.