It is no secret that Phillies ace Aaron Nola has not been himself this season. While he has a 2-0 record, the 25-year-old right-hander also carries a 6.84 ERA in his 25 innings with 12 walks and 28 strikeouts.
Nola will look to build on his last improved outing when he takes the mound as the Phillies return home for the opener of a four-game long weekend series against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday evening.
In his previous start last Saturday night at hitter-friendly Coors Field, Nola gave up three runs and nine hits over 5.2 innings while striking out a season-high nine batters in earning the win.
The Phillies should be feeling a bit more confident heading into tonight now that their 2-5 road trip ended with a big victory against the division-rival Mets . The club has fashioned an 8-4 record at home and has scored 71 runs at Citizens Bank as opposed to just 46 on the road. This series will start a nine-game home stand, one of two the club will enjoy this season at that length.
After his big revenge homer off Mets righty Jacob Rhame in the 9th inning last night, Rhys Hoskins has banged home runs in two of the last three games and now has seven long balls on the season. The Phillies will need Hoskins to do some damage against Marlins’ lefty starter Caleb Smith, who shut the Phillies down on just one hit over six innings back on April 13 in Miami.
After their Wednesday night victory in New York the Phillies are once again tied for first place in the National League East Division standings with a 13-11 record. The Marlins sit in last place with a 7-17 record. The Phillies captured two of three in the first meeting between the two teams down in Miami, with Smith’s effort during a 10-3 blowout as the lone Phillies defeat.
THURSDAY STARTING LINEUPS AND PREVIEW
- Andrew McCutchen LF
- J.T. Realmuto C
- Bryce Harper RF
- Rhys Hoskins 1B
- Maikel Franco 3B
- Cesar Hernandez 2B
- Sean Rodriguez SS
- Aaron Altherr CF
- Aaron Nola P
PHILLIES HOT & COLD
Hoskins is hitting .318 over his last five games. He and third baseman Maikel Franco are tied for the club lead with six homers and 18 RBIs each. Franco’s 11 extra-base hits are tied for the Phillies lead with right fielder Bryce Harper.
J.T. Realmuto has 17 RBIs and is slashing .367/.375/.633 over his last eight games. Cesar Hernandez has now hit in five straight games and 12 of the last 14, and during that stretch has produced a .346/.414/.519 slash line.
On the cold side, while Harper delivered a big RBI double in the 1st inning on Wednesday night he went just 1-5 overall and is now 2-18 since his five-hit game in Colorado last Friday. He struck out three times last night, his third straight game with multiple strikeouts.
Aaron Altherr may be needed more in center field now that Roman Quinn has joined Odubel Herrera on the Injured List. Altherr is slashing just .042/.080/.083 on the season. He was given two recent starts, both against the Mets, one at home and another on the road, and went 0-7 with a walk.
In the bullpen, Adam Morgan remains easily the best story of this young season. Last night was his 12th appearance, and the lefty has yet to surrender a run. He has allowed just four hits over 10 innings, striking out 12 with just one walk.
- Curtis Granderson LF
- Martin Prado 3B
- Brian Anderson RF
- Neil Walker 1B
- Starlin Castro 2B
- Jorge Alfaro C
- Miguel Rojas SS
- Lewis Brinson CF
- Caleb Smith P
MARLINS HOT & COLD
Former Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro leads Miami with four home runs. However, the 25-year-old has just one hit over his last dozen plate appearances. 38-year-old, 16-year outfielder Curtis Granderson leads the Fish with eight RBIs. But he is just .176/.211/.421 over his last 19 plate appearances stretching back over his last five games.
Pretty much the entire Marlins lineup has been cold all season except for three explosions, all at home. They scored seven runs on Colorado back on March 30, nine on Washington on April 20, and in between had their big 10-run outburst on the Phillies on April 13, which also happened to be the night of Smith’s pitching gem.
Miami’s 65 runs scored are by far the lowest total in all of Major League Baseball this season. Same can be said for their collective .605 OPS. They can cause some havoc on the base paths at times as their total of 10 stolen bases is twice that of the Phillies and is tied for 8th in the 15-team National League.
SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
- Aaron Nola: 2-0, 6.84 ERA, 1.680 WHIP, 30 hits allowed over 25 innings with a 28/12 K:BB ratio
- In 10 games against the Marlins, Nola is 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA. Over 60.2 innings he has allowed 54 hits and 14 walks while striking out 59. The Marlins are the only National League East team that Nola has not yet faced this season.
- Neil Walker is the lone player on the Marlins roster with a home run off Nola. However, both Martin Prado (.389 in 18 at-bats) and Brian Anderson (.357 in 14 at-bats) have hit him well over their careers.
- Caleb Smith: 2-0, 2.35 ERA, 0.870 WHIP, 14 hits allowed over 23 innings with a 29/6 K:BB ratio. As you can see if you enjoyed the above video, Smith’s 2018 season ended early due to a lat strain. He then underwent surgery to repair a shoulder injury.
- Smith has only started against the Phillies twice in his career, fashioning a 3.00 ERA in 9 innings over the two outings with 10 strikeouts but also nine walks.
- Smith’s hard-hit rate of 19.2% is one of the tops in the game this season. The 27-year-old came to Miami in a November 2017 three-player trade from the New York Yankees, who had selected him in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES
- Roman Quinn was placed on the Injured List officially today with a right groin strain. Promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley was outfielder Dylan Cozens. The 24-year-old Cozens was hitting just .218 with 27 strikeouts over 71 plate appearances, but also with a .380 OBP and .636 SLG, six homers, 14 RBIs, 16 runs scored, three steals with the IronPigs.
- The Phillies will be celebrating the first of what are being billed as “Throwback Thursday” events tonight. The team will wear the old powder blue road-style uniforms made popular during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Ball girls and grounds crew will be dressed in powder blue and maroon colors. A pair of 1980 World Series stars will make an appearance: Greg Luzinski will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and Garry Maddox will do a base-change in the 3rd inning.
- Fans 15 and over will receive an Andrew McCutchen retro t-shirt on Thursday night. Also, the first 1500 fans who purchased special theme night tickets (now sold out) will receive a mystery bobblehead.
- McCutchen is one of the few Phillies hitters with much of a history against Smith. “Cutch” has a double and a home run with two RBIs among three hits in seven at-bats while walking twice against the lefty.
- The Phillies have homered 21 times this season at Citizens Bank, while blasting just nine on the road. Last season, Smith surrendered 10 home runs over 77.1 innings, while in this improved season he has thus far allowed just two.
- The Phillies have just five stolen bases on the season, tied for 28th among the 30 MLB ball clubs.
- In 118 career games against Miami, Harper has a .291 average (120 hits) with 24 home runs, 76 RBIs, and 74 walks while striking out 105 times.
THURSDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION
- 7:05 p.m. EDT at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)
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