June 7, 2023

First Divisional Tilt — Marlins vs. Phillies Series Preview


Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off their first series victory of the season over the Cincinnati Reds last weekend, the Phillies get set to take on their first divisional opponent, the Miami Marlins, in a 3-game set beginning Monday night.

After taking the opening 2 games vs the Reds, the Phillies lost a heartbreaker on Sunday, giving up 3 runs in the 9th, and were not able to complete the sweep.

This will be the Phils’ first look at the Marlins, who were active this offseason, signing former Phillie Jean Segura, trading for reigning AL batting champ, Luis Arraez, and signing former Astro, Yuli Gurriel, late in the offseason. Last season, the Phillies were finally able to figure out Miami, a team who seemed to have their number since 2018, going 12-7 against them.

The Marlins currently sit a half-game ahead of the Phils for 3rd in the NL East (never too early to standings watch) and will send their top-3 rotation arms to the bump at Citizens Bank Park this week. Here are some keys to this series:

Top of the Order Production

With the injury bug currently going around the roster, the Phillies will need more production out of their 1-2-3 guys in the lineup. The scariest part of the order (Turner-Schwarber-Realmuto) combined to go just 1 for 22 with 12 strikeouts over the final 2 games of the Reds series. Facing the top-3 arms in the Marlins rotation (Alcantara-Luzardo-Carbrera) this week, it is safe to say those numbers must improve for the Phils to come away with a series victory and an above .500 homestand.

Even with his struggles vs the Reds, Trea Turner is still hitting a solid .308 on the season, and while we probably should not overreact to a rough 2-game stretch, the swing-and-miss factor of his game was certainly concerning. He struck out 4 times and swung and missed a ton in Saturday and Sunday’s games and chased out of the strike zone quite a bit. Fortunately, he has good numbers vs the reigning NL Cy Young winner (10 for 27 with a homer and 2 doubles), so look for him to bounce back in game 1.

Schwarber’s struggles should honestly come as no surprise. He is historically a slow starter (Heck! Just look at last season), and he will turn it around. However, a .158 batting average out of your 2-hole hitter just simply is not going to cut it.

After launching a 448-foot bomb on Friday, it looked JT Realmuto might have flipped a switch. Nope! He followed that up by going 0 for 8 with 5 strikeouts on Saturday and Sunday, dropping his average to .226. While he most likely will not be in the starting lineup on Monday, given he caught every game in the Reds series, JT will have to find a way to at least get on base for the red-hot middle of the order during this series.

Better Base Running

While it is early in the season and players might not be completely up-to-speed yet, what happened on Sunday is simply inexcusable, even for little league. The Phillies had 3 players thrown out because of base running mistakes, and the only reason that number is not 4 is that a throw to the plate hit Kyle Schwarber in the back after he ran through a stop sign in the 1st inning. In that same play, Nick Castellanos ran through the stop sign and was thrown out at home by a mile.

Castellanos was not the only Phillie to be gunned down between 3rd and home on Sunday. Brandon Marsh was tagged out after he ignored Dusty Wathan’s stop sign while trying to score on an inside-the-park homerun (It does not help that he slowed up going around 2nd on that play either). That was followed up by yet another base running blunder in the 8th inning when Kyle Schwarber was tagged out in a run-down trying to stretch a single into a double.

While aggressiveness is certainly something that can a team can use to their advantage, you also have to be smart about it. After the game, manager Rob Thomson spoke about the issue, “As far as baserunning is concerned, they’ve got to run with their heads up. At third base, I always tell base runners you get into that 10-15 foot area before the base, and you pick up the coach. Then you touch the base and pick up the coach again, in case he has to change his mind.”

The Phillies will need to clean it up on the base paths against the Marlins, especially when their pitchers do not allow many base runners to begin with.

Game Times and Broadcasts

Monday, April 10th, at 6:40pm ET on NBCSP, 94.1 WIP, WTTM 1680

Tuesday, April 11th, at 6:40pm ET on NBCSP+, 94.1 WIP, WTTM 1680

Wednesday, April 12th, at 4:05pm ET, on NBCSP, MLBN, 94.1 WIP, WTTM 1680

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Matt Strahm (LHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Sandy Alcantara (RHP, 1-0, 1.84 ERA)

Game 2: Aaron Nola (RHP, 0-1, 7.45 ERA) vs. Jesus Luzardo (LHP, 1-0, 0.71 ERA)

Game 3: Zack Wheeler (RHP, 0-1, 5.59 ERA) vs. Edward Cabrera (RHP, 0-1, 5.40 ERA)

The Numbers

Run Differential:
Phillies: -22
Marlins: -19

Runs Scored Per Game:
Phillies: 3.33
Marlins: 2.70

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Phillies: 5.78
Marlins: 4.60

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