Series Preview: Phillies Looking to Bounce Back in Miami

MLB: APR 08 Athletics at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 08: Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) watches a replay on the scoreboard during the Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Oakland Athletics on April 8, 2022 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

The Phillies head to Miami to begin their first road trip of the 2022 season. The Phils will take on the Marlins in a 4 game series before heading to Colorado on Monday.

The Phillies are coming off a homestand where they finished 3-3, losing two in a row to the New York Mets.

The Marlins have proven to be a tough challenge for the Phillies in recent years. The club needs to bounce back from a poor series against New York and prove to fans that the Marlins roadblock is a thing of the past. In recent seasons, the Marlins have been one of the worst teams in baseball.

Yet somehow they always manage to beat the Phils, especially in the 3-0-5. Overcoming the Marlins this season will be crucial in getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Fish are Flying Home

Thursday’s game between the Phillies and Marlins will be Miami’s home opener. The club started on the road for the first week of the season.

The Marlins come into this series with a 1-4 record and a 3-game losing streak. The Marlins took one game in their Opening Day series against the San Francisco Giants and then lost both games against the Angels in Anaheim. The Marlins will also be looking to get their season back on track.

Players to Watch For

Nick Castellanos

Nick Castellanos will be a player to watch in this four-game series against the Fish.

Castellanos is a career .351 hitter against the Marlins in his 16 games against the club. Success against the Marlins won’t be the only factor driving Nick in this series. A Florida native, there were rumors this off-season that the Marlins were the favorite to land Castellanos.

Former Marlins owner Derek Jeter pushed the team to spend money and go after the now Phillies DH/OF, but the team refused to spend. Ultimately, Jeter would step down from his role with the team and the Phillies would sign Nick Castellanos to a 5-year deal.

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper finished the first Phillies home series with his first homerun of 2022. What transpired before that homerun however is very unlike the reigning National League MVP.

Harper, for the season, is now hitting .143, with just three hits in 21 at-bats. Like Castellanos, Bryce owns the Marlins, but has a much larger sample size.

In 155 career games against Miami, Harper is a .290 hitter with 34 home runs and 103 runs batted in. Hopefully playing against a team he has a lot of success against, can get the offense rolling.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1:

Start Time: 6:40 EST

Kyle Gibson (1-0, 0.00) vs Sandy Alcantara (0-0, 3.60)

Kyle Gibson shined in his first start of the season. In his start against the Athletics, Kyle threw seven scoreless innings and tallied 10 strikeouts in his effort. His performance against Oakland was one of the best in his career and the Phillies hope to get a similar outing in Miami.

Sandy Alcantara will be the opposing pitcher across Kyle Gibson in Game one. Alcantara is a rising star and at the age of 26, looks to be one of the best up-and-coming pitchers in the MLB today. In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Sandy is 5-4 with an era of 3.13.

The Phillies should look to work counts early in Game 1 and try and get into the Marlins bullpen, where they should have more success.

Game 2:

Start Time: 6:40 EST

Zach Eflin (0-0, 0.00) vs Pablo Lopez (0-0, 1.80)

Zach Eflin looked really solid in his first start of the season on Sunday. In four innings, Eflin was able to work out of jams and in four innings, did not allow an earned run. The Phillies need for Zach to dig a little deeper in his second start and be able to go longer in the game.

With Ranger Suarez and Zack Wheeler to follow in the series, the Phillies will need to keep their bullpen refreshed and healthy. Look for Zach Eflin to go 5-6 innings in his start against the Marlins, if his command is on point.

Pablo Lopez is just another good young pitcher that the Marlins starting rotation features. Lopez looked good in his first outing against the Giants and finished the game with 5 innings pitched and 6 strikeouts. In 6 career starts vs the Phillies, Pablo has a 1-1 record with a 3.69 earned run average.

Game 3:

Start Time: 6:10 EST

Ranger Suarez (0-0, 10.13) vs Trevor Rogers (0-1, 3.60)

Ranger Suarez did not look like the 2021 version we all came to love last season. However, there is no need to panic. Ranger got off to a late start to spring training. Issues with his Visa and the MLB Lockout delayed Suarez from arriving at camp on time.

These problems would result in him being behind schedule to start 2022 and that is alright. Working on building arm strength and velocity will be the most important factor to look for in his start against the Marlins. It will help Suarez if the Phillies’ defense shows up for him, considering Alec Bohm’s three errors forced Ranger to work a lot harder to get outs.

Once again, another rising young starting pitcher will be on the mound in this four-game series. Trevor Rogers finished second in rookie of the year voting last season and he was brilliant for the Marlins. The young lefty dominates teams with just three pitches. His fastball, slider, and changeup are used in a balanced manner and it keeps hitters guessing. The Phillies will have their work cut out for them in this one.

Game 4:

Start Time: 1:40 EST

Zack Wheeler (0-1, 1.93) vs Elieser Hernández (0-1, 7.71)

Zack Wheeler looked really good in his first start of 2022. Like Ranger Suarez, Zack had a late start to his season. Going into his start against the Mets, Wheeler was on a pitch count but he maximized every pitch. After a good start to his 2022 campaign, it will be important for Zack to take the next step against the Marlins. Finishing this series strong will be needed for the Phillies to get over the Marlins’ curse.

Eliser Hernandez is the guy the Phillies need to jump on in this series. Regardless of how the first three games go offensively, this will be the easiest matchup for the offense in this series. Eliser is also a young first-round pick from the Marlins organization.

However, his stuff is a step behind the likes of Alcantara, Lopez, and Rogers. Hernandez allowed two home runs and four earned against a powerful Angels lineup on Monday. The Phillies contain just as much power and skill as the Angels, and they must give Eliser trouble as he faced in LA.

The Time is Now

The Phillies must get over the hurdle that is the Miami Marlins. They will not be able to compete in the division without beating the bad teams.

Their record against Miami can be directly linked to the difference between the team making and missing the postseason the last few seasons. Fully expect the offense to wake up in Miami and for the Phillies to bounce back after their lows against the Mets.

The Phillies should take three of four against the Fish, and head to Colorado on a high note.

Betting Odds:

Due to always struggling against Miami, the Phillies find themselves as underdogs heading into this series.

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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