Well, the Pirates series went exactly as my colleague Mike said it would. Losing 3 of 4 against your only in-state neighbours is tough, let alone the fact that the Phillies can never seem to beat the Pirates full stop.
The last few of series have been exciting for all the right reasons. For starters, we have produced winning baseball against certain teams (notably the Braves and Nationals) but have lost to the teams that mattered in the Mets and Pirates.
Maikel Franco has obviously been all the rage, with the Phils 3B prospect continuing to get game time as the infield situation looks to sort itself out. That has been an exciting point in an otherwise pretty dull last couple of weeks, despite the wins (which ultimately mean nothing).
Tonight’s opponent, and the opponent for this series, is the Miami Marlins. The Phillies have been pretty consistent against Miami so far this season. Well, consistently poor anyway. After sweeping the first series at CB Park, the Phillies have gone on to lose their last three series against Miami, dropping 2 of 3 games in each.
The last time they met
The Phillies haven’t played the Marlins since early July, but the last time they did meet it was Miami who won the series at Marlins Park, taking the first two games by scores of 5-4 (in extras) and 5-0. Miami was one of the only teams to really get to Hamels, as he took the loss in the second game, with De Fratus taking the L in the first.
The Marlins offense scored 14 runs in the series against the starters of Burnett, Hamels and Kendrick. The middle game of the set caused Ryne Sandberg to show real frustration and disappointment, but the rally in the third game allowed attention to wrongly turn to the fact they hadn’t been swept.
What’s new with the Marlins?
Any realistic hopes of playoffs are dwindling, with the Marlins 5.5 games out of the wild card, but the team has still managed to put together an admirable record given their struggles last year.
Despite arriving on a two game losing streak. They continue to plug away towards .500 ball, going 5-5 in their last ten.
Giancarlo Stanton: A twist of misfortune
In what was a horrendous incident last night, Miami slugger Stanton was downed on a hit-by-pitch from Mike Friers. The pitch caught him right on the left cheek, with Stanton requiring dental surgery and stitches to mend the wounds.
Marlins starting pitching preview
Henderson Alvarez. Image Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
In what will be a marquee pitching matchup on Friday evening, Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez will return from his strained oblique suffered in a start on September 1st.
He has been really impressive this season, going 10-6 with just a 2.88 ERA. In his last couple of starts however he has been roughed up, going for 8 earned runs over 8.2 innings of work, driving his ERA up from 2.57 after August 22nd to its current point.
The Marlins hard throwing lefty has struggled a bit this season, going 3-6 with a 4.45 ERA through 93 innings pitched. He has spent time in the minors also before the Marlins decided he was part of their plans for the time being.
His last start against Atlanta was stellar, giving up 5 hits in a shutout and 6 innings of work, contrasting a game against the Mets 5 days previous in which he came on in long relief and gave up 2 runs over 3 innings.
Koehler will take the hill for the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon, with the righty having had a pretty average season so far for Miami. He is an even 9-9 on the year through 29 starts and after 173.1 innings of work he has a 3.74 ERA.
In his last start on September 9th, Koehler gave up 2 runs against the Brewers through 5 innings getting a no decision. He has pitched at least 5 innings in each of his last 10 starts, the highlight being a 7 inning outing against the Reds in which he conceded 2 runs, both unearned, and ended up taking the loss.
Reason for optimism
Surely the Phillies can’t go on losing games against the Marlins, right? And if Hamels out duels Alvarez on Friday then that should be enough to seal the series providing all else goes to plan.
Reason for pessimism
Sandberg continues to experiment with line-ups which leads me to believe offense may be a problem. Lose Friday and it could be really tough to get going, and things haven’t gone well this season against Miami.
The Phillies will rebound and take game one behind Hamels, standing them in good stead to win at least one of the remaining two games (likely and hopefully against Brad Hand).
Philadelphia to take two of three.