Following a two-game mini-series split against Toronto, the Phillies (47-73) head south to Miami (49-71) to take on the Marlins in a four game weekend series.
The series will take place in Marlins Park, which has larger dimensions than Citizens Bank Park, making it harder to play defense in the outfield.
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The Marlins just took a series victory over Milwaukee, the same team that swept the Phillies just last weekend. Miami is now 15 games out of first in NL East and has a 2-game lead on the Phillies.
Miami’s 25th ranked offense is led by speedy 2nd baseman Dee Gordon (.334/.357/.419, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 40 SB), underrated shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (.284/.316/.378, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 6 SB), and the power-hitting Justin Bour (.247/.322/.431, 12 HR, 38 RBI).
The Phillies just split two games with the Jays, which still has them sputtering a little. More importantly, that series was the Phillies’ last with Chase Utley, who was traded to the Dodgers. The Phillies will miss their franchise icon, but will have to move on to competing in this series.
The Phillies’ Utley-less line-up is led by exciting rookie center fielder Odubel Herrera (.291/.324/.426, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 14 SB), steady infielder Cesar Hernandez (.279/.351/.359, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 18 SB), and slugging veteran Ryan Howard (.234/.282/.443, 19 HR, 65 RBI).
Jerome Williams (4-8, 5.47 ERA) v. Brad Hand (2-3, 4.74 ERA) – Believe it or not, Williams is putting together a nice stretch of baseball with three straight good starts in August. His latest (6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 4 SO), took place in Milwaukee. The Phils would certainly love for Williams to keep this stretch going and help them start the series off on the right foot. His opponent, Hand, has only six starts this season and only three since mid-June. He will be looking for a bounce-back start tonight after a tough outing (6 IP, 6 ER, 11 H, 0 BB, 5 SO) in St. Louis. Hand has been a bit inconsistent in his six starts this season so who knows quite what to expect with him.
Jerad Eickhoff v. Kendry Flores (1-1, 2.35 ERA) – Eickhoff got the call to fill the empty spot in the rotation on Friday. He came to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade and has a 2.49 ERA and 0.92 WHIP through three starts with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. His opponent, Flores, is another rookie, one who also has no career starts to his name. He’s been decent in limited relief appearances, but is taking on something completely different in a starting role. Flores will have to show that he belongs as a starter.
Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.79 ERA) v. Justin Nicolino (2-1, 4.24 ERA) – Harang had a terrible start in Milwaukee (4.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 2 SO) that was representative of the poor August he’s been having. In three August starts, Harang has allowed 18 earned runs in 15 innings pitched. He’ll definitely be looking to make a change. The Marlins are sending out another rookie in Nicolino. With only four career starts, Nicolino has split with two decent and two poor outings. His most recent start came in Milwaukee (6.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 SO) and was pretty solid. Nicolino likely hopes to build off that game when he faces the Phils on Saturday.
Aaron Nola (3-1, 4.41 ERA) v. Adam Conley (1-0, 5.82 ERA) – Nola was once again pretty mediocre against the Blue Jays on Tuesday (5 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 4 BB, 5 SO). After four straight middling games from Nola, he’s probably due to break out of his funk. The Phillies would benefit tremendously in this series if he would. Conley is the third rookie starter the Marlins are sending out in this four-game weekend series. Conley has 7 games and 3 starts to his name. His most recent start, Tuesday, was lacking (3.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 7 SO). He’ll be looking to have a much better game.
Marlins’ lack of starting pitching – The Marlins are sending out three rookies in this four-game series, and the three of them combined have only seven career starts. The Phillies will have to hit against these young pitchers who are still trying to find their niche in the MLB. If the Phillies can do so, they should be very well positioned to take this series.
Big start from Nola – After a few mediocre starts in a row, the Phils could use a big outing from him to close off the series. With Eickhoff making his debut and two unpredictable veterans going, the Phillies need Nola to anchor the rotation in this series finale.
Thursday: 7:10 PM, TV: CSN, Radio 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Friday: 7:10 PM, TV: CSN, Radio 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Saturday: 7:10 PM, TV: CSN, Radio 1210 WPHT, 98.1 WOGL, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Sunday: 1:10 PM, TV: CSN, Radio 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE forecast for Marlins Park in Miami, Florida
NOTE: Marlins Park is a retractable roof facility, so weather should not be a major factor this weekend
A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 79. East wind 3 to 6 mph.
A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.
A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 2am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 79. Light southeast wind.
A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Light and variable wind.
A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 80. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm after midnight.
A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Northeast wind 5 to 9 mph.
INJURIES / DISABLE LIST
|Alvarez, Henderson (P)||08/16||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from July 2015 right shoulder surgery||Underwent surgery to repair torn labrum July 28.|
|Capps, Carter (P)||08/16||15-day DL||Possibly week of Aug. 17||Right elbow strain||Threw bullpen session Aug. 11; expected to begin rehab assignment week of Aug. 17.|
|Crow, Aaron (P)||05/07||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgery||Underwent Tommy John surgery April 8.|
|Fernandez, Jose (P)||08/19||15-day DL||TBD||Right biceps strain||Was scheduled to play catch for first time since injury Aug. 17.|
|Kelly, Don (3B)||08/16||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from July 2015 Tommy John surgery||Underwent Tommy John surgery July 14.|
|Phelps, David (P)||08/19||Out for Season||2016||Right forearm fracture||Will miss rest of season after MRI revealed fracture.|
|Rienzo, Andre (P)||08/07||15-day DL||TBD||Left knee laceration||Placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 7 retroactive to Aug. 4.|
|Stanton, Giancarlo (RF)||08/17||15-day DL||Possibly August||Recovering from June 2015 left hand surgery||Hitting off a pitching machine and live pitching as of Aug. 17 update.|
|Urena, Jose (P)||08/08||15-day DL||TBD||Left knee contusion||Placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 7.|
|Yelich, Christian (LF)||08/15||15-day DL||Possibly late August||Right knee contusion||Placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 15 retroactive to Aug. 10.|
|Billingsley, Chad (P)||08/16||15-day DL||TBD||Right flexor strain||Was scheduled to have elbow re-examined week of Aug. 10.|
|Franco, Maikel (3B)||08/18||15-day DL||TBD||Fractured left wrist||Placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 18 retroactive to Aug. 12.|
|Hollands, Mario (P)||04/20||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgery||Underwent Tommy John surgery April 8.|
|Lee, Cliff (P)||04/05||60-day DL||Possibly 2015||Left common flexor tendon tear||Shut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.|
|Pettibone, Jonathan (P)||08/08||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from July 2015 shoulder surgery||Underwent season-ending surgery July 22.|