The Philadephia Phillies (43-38) are down in South Florida for a weekend meeting with the host Miami Marlins (30-49) at Marlins Park.
Coming off an uplifting four-game sweep of the New York Mets, the Phillies will be looking to extend their winning streak and avenge last weekend’s home sweep at the hands of the Fish.
A week ago at Citizens Bank Park, the Marlins took all three games by holding the Phillies to just eight runs scored. By the end of that series, the Phillies had dropped seven games in a row and their season was spiraling out of control.
While the Mets series allowed the Phillies to regain their positive mojo, they cannot afford to give any of that momentum back. Just as they were last weekend, the Marlins are the owners of the worst record in the National League. They came home from Philadelphia and were promptly swept by the Washington Nationals.
The Marlins offense has generated just 3.52 runs-per-game, the worst run production in the NL and second-lowest scoring average in all of Major League Baseball. Their 60 home runs are the least in all of baseball and their .646 OPS is the lowest in the game.
That lack of power has not translated in their meetings with the Phillies. The Miami hitters have blasted 11 of their 60 home runs this season over 10 previous games between the two teams, resulting in a 5-5 split.
While they generally suffer to score, at least when playing the other 28 teams in baseball, the Marlins pitching staff has been strong. The cumulative batting average against mark of .242 is tied for the 6th best in the game. The Miami pitchers have surrendered just 94 home runs, tied for the fourth-most stingy staff in baseball.
The challenge for the Phillies this weekend will be the same as last. Find a way to score against Marlins pitching. The Phillies have scored 45 runs in the 10 meetings. That is a mediocre 4.5 runs-per-game, and it is exaggerated by two games in which the Phillies hitters produced 21 runs. That means in the other eight games, the Phillies have averaged just 4.375 runs.
Also, Phillies pitching is going to have to start holding the Marlins hitters in the park themselves, the same way those other 28 pitching staffs have been doing.
TOP LINEUP THREATS
Brian Anderson: The 26-year-old third baseman leads the Fish with 10 homers, 26 extra-base hits, and 34 RBIs
Garrett Cooper: 28-year-old right fielder slashing .311/.379/.490 has 7 homers, 12 extra-base hits, and 23 RBIs in just 169 plate appearances
Miguel Rojas: 30-year-old shortstop hitting .286 with a .350 OBP leads the club with 19 doubles and a half-dozen steals
Neil Walker: 33-year-old first baseman hitting .280 with a .362 OBP has 14 XBH over 177 plate appearances. Just activated this past week after spending a month on the IL
Harold Ramirez: 25-year-old rookie playing mostly LF is slashing .313/.348/.407 with 21 runs and 18 RBIs over just 158 plate appearances after being promoted on May 11
Starlin Castro: 29-year-old second baseman is second on the club with 32 RBIs and always seems to do something against the Phillies
Jorge Alfaro: the 26-year-old catcher was traded to the Fish from the Phillies along with top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez and another prospect arm in exchange for J.T. Realmuto back in early February. He came to the Phillies as part of a big package received in the Cole Hamels deal with Texas at the 2015 MLB trade deadline.
Alfaro’s status for this series is currently up in the air. He is currently on the IL under the seven-day concussion protocol. In a game last Thursday against the Saint Louis Cardinals, Alfaro was hit in the mask by a back-swing of former Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. He later took a foul ball off the mask as well. He is eligible to be activated as early as the series opener on Friday, and will be a day-to-day decision at this point.
Prior to his IL stint, Alfaro was one of the Marlins top run producers. Their regular starting catcher, his nine homers are second and his 24 RBIs are third among all Miami hitters.
SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS
FRIDAY – Elieser Hernandez: 0-2, 4.34 ERA, 1.179 WHIP, 18 hits over 18.2 IP across four games (three starts) with a 19/4 K:BB ratio. The 24-year-old right-hander in his second big-league season went five innings last weekend, allowing three earned on four hits including a pair of homers. He struck out six and walked two and left with the Phillies up 3-1. The Marlins rallied to win 5-3 after he was out.
SATURDAY – Jordan Yamamoto: 3-0, 0.95 ERA, 0.789 WHIP, seven hits over 19 IP across three starts with a 19/8 K:BB ratio. The 23-year-old righty rookie from Hawaii came to the Marlins from the Milwaukee Brewers in January 2018 as part of a four-prospect package for Christian Yelich. This will be his third big-league start. He allowed just two hits and two earned in a five-inning start last weekend at Citizens Bank Park, earning the victory in a 6-4 Marlins win. Yamamoto has won each of his three starts to this point.
SUNDAY – Trevor Richards: 3-8, 3.94 ERA, 1.281 WHIP, 76 hits over 89 IP across 16 starts with an 80/38 K:BB ratio. The 26-year-old righty is in his second big-league season after signing as an undrafted free agent back in July 2016. The Phillies got to him for five earned on six hits including a pair of homers over four innings in a 12-9 victory back on April 27 in Miami.
Don Mattingly: As a ballplayer, Mattingly was a New York Yankees legend who played his entire 14-year big-league career in the Bronx. The 1985 AL MVP and runner-up for the award the following year, he was one of the top players of the second half of the 1980’s. Mattingly made six consecutive AL All-Star teams as a first baseman from 1984-89, and won nine AL Gold Glove Awards at the position. He also won three straight Silver Sluggers 1985-87.
Mattingly served as the Los Angeles Dodgers manager for five years 2011-15, guiding the Dodgers to three straight NL West crowns in his final three seasons. Over parts of four seasons now in Miami he has fashioned a 249-314 record and been at the helm as the franchise has undergone a major personnel teardown and rebuild process.
Marlins Park has been renovated for the 2019 season. Perhaps the most noticeable difference for fans in Philly watching this series on television will be the removal of the massive and colorful home run sculpture that adorned center field since the ballpark opened for the 2012 season.
The dimensions are 344 down the left field line and 335 to right field. A big ballpark, the right- and left-center power alleys are 392 and 386 feet away respectively. It will be a 407 foot shot to dead-center field.
Located on the site of the old Orange Bowl, Marlins Park sits in the Little Havana section of the city, just two miles west of the downtown Miami area. At a 37,442 normal seating capacity, it is the third-smallest ballpark in Major League Baseball. It is also one of six MLB parks with a retractable roof, so weather is unlikely to play any role this weekend.
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