Phillies to likely oppose Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara in opener

The Phillies will likely oppose the Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara on Opening Day

It is hard to believe, but just 10 days remain until the scheduled Opening Day between the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

A lot will look different than how the team usually kicks off the season, with no fans in attendance, no pre-game ceremonies, no live performance of the national anthem, you name it.

We now know which Marlins starting pitcher the Joe Girardi-led Phillies will likely oppose in the season opener.

As the Phillies kick off their first of few live streamed intrasquad games Tuesday evening, the Marlins will have an intrasquad game of their own. Zack Wheeler and Vince Velasquez will receive the starting nod in Philadelphia and are expected to each get four innings of work.

The Marlins, meanwhile, are tabbing three-year veteran and 2019 All-Star RHP Sandy Alcantara, who will oppose a Marlins squad having a “bullpen day,” according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.

“So, do the math,” Frisaro writes. “Ten days before Opening Day, Sandy is lined up perfectly to face Phillies 7/24 in Game 1.”

Alcantara, 24, has recently separated himself as among the Marlins’ top pitchers on their roster; last season, although the right-hander recorded a National League-worst 14 losses, he still threw to a 3.88 ERA with two complete game shutouts on a lowly Marlins team. Also, he struck out 151 batters, albeit walking 81, across 197 1/3 frames.

Alcantara’s sixth and final win of 2019 came against the Phillies in the season finale, which handed the organization their 11,000th all-time loss. Overall in 2019 against the Gabe Kapler-led squad, he went 2-1. Still, the Phillies offense was able to connect against him with a .333 batting enrage and .855 OPS.

Which starter the Phillies will counter against Alcantara is not yet known. The options are likely down between Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Even then, there is the slight chance neither will be ready to go and fellow right-handed veteran Jake Arrieta would likely then take the mound. Nola reported to summer camp just last week, the delay due to COVID-19 protocols. Wheeler, meanwhile, is expected to leave the team sometime later this month upon the birth of his child.

Girardi was “very pleased” with Nola’s first intrasquad start on Monday, but still then did not tab him as the definite starter. On July 6, when he reported to camp, Nola said he expects he will be ready to go to start on Opening Day.

Things are clearly still up in the air, but, barring a significant setback, Nola will likely receive his third straight season-opener starting nod.