The Miami Marlins host the Philadelphia Phillies in a four game series starting Thursday night. The Marlins are looking to make a late-season playoff push. They just got swept in Washington by the Nationals but they’re 6-4 in their last 10 and 17-11 overall for the month. They enter the series only 5.5 games out of the second wildcard spot. Make no mistake about it, they believe they have a chance and as such they’re playing for something.
Obviously, the biggest obstacle facing the Phillies in the series is Giancarlo Stanton, he of 51 home runs. But the Phillies pitching also needs to concern itself with the potent top of the Marlins lineup, which features speedy Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.
Yelich and Ozuna have been real Phillie-killers over the course of their career. Combined they have 575 plate appearances against the Phillies and have an OPS over .840 with 78 runs scored, 54 extra-base hits and 60 RBI. Add in Stanton’s 26 career home runs and .860 OPS against the Phils and the two, three and four hitters pose a dangerous threat to Phillies pitching.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Well, like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang told a reporter in Rocky III when he was asked what the expectations should be for the big upcoming bout, if the Phillies pitchers can’t execute, expect “Pain, lots of pain” for those of us Phillies fans watching. This is a good hitting team that’s hitting its stride offensively. Their young pitchers are starting to figure it out as well.
Thursday, 7:05 p.m., Ben Lively (1-5, 4.36 ERA) vs Odrisamer Despaigne (0-1, 3.70 ERA)
Every other start for Lively seems to be an effective one and since he got lit up in his last start vs. the Cubs (5 IP, 6 ER) this may be a better one. He’s never faced the Marlins before but again, all he needs to do is execute to be successful. Oddly, his lower strike out games seem to be the ones where he’s more effective so maybe he should just resign himself to contact, weak contact preferably, and just get outs. For Despaigne’s part, he pitched two and two-thirds effective innings of relief against the Phils last week after Justin Nicolino got lit up but he’s not exactly dominant so the Phils have a chance in this one.
Friday, 7:05 p.m., Nick Pivetta (5-9, 6.57 ERA) vs Dan Straily (8-8, 3.80 ERA)
Another shot for Pivetta to get back on track. Let’s face it, despite having some great stuff at times his starts have been problematic. Straily on the other hand is having his best season ever – strike outs are up, walks are down and his 3.80 in his league leading 27 starts is the by-product of that effectiveness. Franco has hit him well and in his three at-bats against Straily Hoskins has a home run. He’s 2-1 against the Phil’s this year having pitched 17.2 innings and given up eight earned runs. He does have 27 K’s to only six walks though so the Phils need to make better contact.
Saturday, 7:10 p.m., Aaron Nola (10-9, 3.46 ERA) vs Jose Urena (12-6, 3.84 ERA)
Nola got back on track in his last start vs Atlanta going seven innings and giving up only one earned run with siz K’s and no walks. He’ll have to be on his game again against a tough Marlins line up. Urena has been great this year although he tends to walk a fair amount of batters and give up his share of hits as his 1.243 WHIP shows. For a guy in their division making his 23rd start it’s a bit odd that this is only the second time he’ll face the Phils. The first was in game two of last weeks double header where he went five innings giving up 3 earned runs and earning the win.
Sunday, 1:35p.m., TBA vs Vance Worley (2-4, 6.02 ERA)
The “vanimal” making his 11th start of the year, his second in as many weeks against the Phils. He got lit up last week when he faced the Phils giving up eight earned runs in four innings. You would expect that the Phils will take advantage of him again but hey, you never know. TBA has been so-so this year.