Series Preview: Phillies at Marlins

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After losing 3 of 4 in Saint Louis to the Cardinals, the Phillies (8-15) head to Miami to take on the rising Miami Marlins (10-12). After going 3-11 to start the season, Miami is one of baseball’s hottest teams, putting together a fantastic 7-1 stretch.

The Marlins’ string of luck doesn’t end with on-field results. Their young starting pitching ace, Jose Fernandez, took a significant stride toward his return according to ESPN.com by facing live hitters yesterday. The talented righty, who has been nursing his arm for almost a year following Tommy John Surgery last May, stated: “It felt great…Finally facing hitters, I’m excited. It felt really fantastic. It felt where I belong.” He then added, “It’s a big step in the process, facing hitters, and hopefully that’s what I’ll be doing soon.” Fernandez’s return is anticipated to be around the MLB All-Star break.

Pacing the offense for Miami is the speedy 2nd baseman Dee Gordon (.409/.418/.484, 8 SB), surprisingly hot shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (.329/.349/.481, 2 HR, 16RB), and of course their monstrous slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (.284/.386/.593, 6 HR, 21RBI) who is again proving that he has as much pop as any player in the game today.

The Phillies answer, as has been the same for much of the year ,and is the still on-fire trio of Freddy Galvis (.355/.395/.434, 8 RBI), Odubel Herrera (.301/.341/.422, 8 RBI, 4 SB), and Cody Asche (.301/.342/.411, 2 HR), though the latter seems that he may be coming back to earth. Leading the team in home runs is Ryan Howard (4), while Chase Utley’s 11 RBI is good for first on the team.

The Phillies rank last in all of baseball in runs scored. During the just completed month of April, the club scored just 63 runs total in their 23 games, an average of 2.74 per game.

The series will be held in Marlins Park, the newest facility in all of MLB. The retractable dome facility is a good bit larger than Citizens Bank in outfield dimensions, running 344, 418, and 335 feet to left, center, and right field, respectively. The Bank, especially smaller in left and center field, is 329, 401, and 330 feet to those points. Besides the dome, the park is highlighted by a massive artwork in dead center that animates following Marlins homers.

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Game 1: Jerome Williams (2-1, 3.80 ERA) v. Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.50 ERA) – Williams turned in another solid start (6.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 2 SO, 2 BB) in his most recent outing, and gives the Phillies a chance to compete in nearly every game. The club would love to see him replicate his last start against the Marlins (6 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 6 SO, 1 BB) this time around. Koehler, having an up and down year so far, was very good against the Nationals last week (7.1 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 4 SO, 1 BB). He’s looking for something closer to this last start when he toes the rubber tonight.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Game 2: Cole Hamels (1-2, 3.19 ERA) v. Dan Haren (2-1, 3.38 ERA) – Hamels seems to be finding his groove after another nice performance (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 9 SO, 4 BB) finally netted him his first win of the season vs tough Saint Louis. He looks to continue his winning ways on Saturday with a third consecutive strong start as trade rumors begin to heat up. Haren, who’s been solid, overall this season, looks to improve on his mediocre line (5 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 SO, 3 BB) from last week when he takes the mound on Saturday.

Game 3: Severino Gonzalez (0-1, 23.62 ERA) v. Jarred Cosart (1-1, 2.49) – Not much good can be said about Gonzalez’ MLB debut (2.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 H, 0 SO, 2 BB), which was likely not what he had dreamed. Gonzalez is looking for any type of improvement to show that he at least deserves a chance to stick around a little longer. Cosart was excellent in his last start against the Mets (8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 SO, 3 BB). He’d love nothing less to come out on top over his former organization.

SERIES KEYS:

Utley Must Figure it Out – For whatever reason, months are seen as benchmarks throughout the baseball season. As the calendar turns to May, Chase Utley has a chance at a “fresh start” here as May opens, and must take advantage of it. Thus far, Utley has hit .114, which is last on the team. As the season drudges on, the iconic 2nd baseman must have a short memory and push forward.

Starting Pitchers Must Step Up – With Hamels on the mound on Saturday, the Phillies figure to at least have a reasonable chance at winning that game. However, to actually win the series, they will need either Williams or Gonzalez to turn in a really good start as well, because both Koehler and especially Cosart figure to keep the Phillies at bay for the most part. Judging by history, Gonzalez’ last start and his inexperience, this will likely have to come from Jerome Williams, whose opponent on the mound is not as strong.


BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Game 1- Friday, 7:10PM, TV: TCN, Radio: 1210FM, 94 AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)

Game 2- Saturday, 4:10PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94 AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)

Game 3- Sunday, 1:10PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE for Marlins Park

(a retractable roof makes the weather a virtual non-factor; dome likely open on at least Friday and Sunday)

This Afternoon

Sunny, with a high near 84. Northwest wind around 10 mph.

Tonight

Partly cloudy, with a low around 68. North wind around 7 mph.

Saturday

Isolated showers after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 82. Northeast wind 7 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Saturday Night

Isolated showers before 8pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. East wind around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Sunday

Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. Windy, with an east wind 14 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph.


INJURIES

MARLINSDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Alvarez, Henderson (P)05/0115-day DLPossibly mid-MayRight shoulder inflammation, elbow tightnessPlaced on 15-day DL on April 13.
Crow, Aaron (P)04/08Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent season-ending Tommy John surgery April 8.
Fernandez, Jose (P)04/3060-day DLPossibly mid-JuneRecovering from May 2014 Tommy John surgeryThrew 15 pitches to hitters on April 30.
Kelly, Don (3B)04/1315-day DLTBDFractured right ring fingerPlaced on 15-day DL on April 13.
Latos, Mat (P)04/29Any dayDay-to-dayLeft hamstring strainExited game early April 29.
Mathis, Jeff (C)04/1315-day DLTBDFractured right ring fingerPlaced on 15-day DL on April 13.
Yelich, Christian (LF)04/2615-day DLPossibly early MayBulging disk in lower backPlaced on 15-day DL on April 24 retroactive to April 20.

PHILLIESDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Billingsley, Chad (P)04/3015-day DLPossibly early MayRecovering from June 2014 elbow surgerySent on Triple-A rehab assignment April 10.
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
O’Sullivan, Sean (P)04/2215-day DLTBDLeft knee tendinitisPlaced on 15-day DL on April 22 retroactive to April 18.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)04/2860-day DLTBDRecovering from June 2014 right elbow surgeryTransferred to 60-day DL on April 28.
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