After sweeping the Washington Nationals out of Philadelphia, the Phillies are heading down to Miami for a 3-game set against the Marlins.
Some immediate good news presented itself yesterday: the Marlins used 7 relievers in a doubleheader against the Rangers. The Marlins will be weak in the bullpen for game 1 and possibly the entire series. The Marlins have the 5th worst bullpen fWAR and a 4.13 ERA.
The possible problem comes with the set of starters the Phillies will have to face. Let’s look at the pitching matchups.
Game 1: Alcantara vs. Falter
Look who’s coming back for more punishment. While Sandy Alcantara remains the odds-on favorite to win the NL Cy Young award, he’s been pedestrian against the Phillies.
This will be Alcantara’s 6th start against the Phillies this season, 2 more than any other team. He won his first start of the season against the Phillies but has been lackluster since. He went just 6 innings last time with 3 ER. The time before, he went 7.2 IP but allowed 4 ER.
Before that performance, Alcantara had a sub-2 ERA. After his last start against the Phillies, his ERA has risen to 2.43.
While his ERA has risen, Bailey Falter continues to fall. Since August, Falter has a 2.66 ERA in 4 starts. His ERA has dropped from 4.85 to 4.02. His last time out against the Marlins, Falter threw 5.1 IP with 2 ER. Falter has had one of the best walk rates in the big leagues. He currently hasn’t issued a base on balls in his last 23 innings of work.
Game 2: Cabrera vs. Gibson
In August, Kyle Gibson was one of the Phillies’ most dependable starters. In 5 starts, he had an ERA of 2.30 in 31.1 IP. But since the start of September, things have come crashing down and they hurt inside.
Gibby has allowed 11 ER in just 6.2 IP. Now, perhaps you think he’s run into some tougher lineups of late. Well, the Giants and the Marlins’ lineups have not been world beaters.
Gibson’s last start against Miami was one to forget. He allowed 4 ER in 5 IP. He must pitch better in this start and he should. Besides his last start, Gibson has a 2.92 ERA against the Marlins this season.
And then there’s Edward Cabrera.
The young Marlins starter has a 2.31 ERA since returning from injury. That span even includes a clunker where he gave up 6 ER. Cabrera has an electric fastball that sits around 96 MPH.
The last time the Phillies faced him he threw 5.2 IP of shutout baseball. If the Phillies want to beat Cabrera this time around they’ll have to expose his biggest weakness: control. He’s walked at least 2 batters in every game he’s started this season.
If the Phillies stay patient, they’ll get into the Marlins’ bullpen in no time.
Game 3: Lopez vs. Syndergaard
Let’s get to the good news first here. Pablo Lopez has been a completely different pitcher than he was before June. Through May, Lopez had a 1.83 ERA and looked to be an emerging pitcher for the fish. Since the calendar changed to June, Lopez has a 5.42 ERA. Opposing batters have a .799 OPS against him in that span.
Oddly enough, where Alcantara is pitching his 6th game against the Phillies, this will be just Lopez’s 2nd time facing the Phils.
Noah Syndergaard has faced the Marlins more times this season than Pablo Lopez has faced the Phillies. In his 2 starts against the fish, Syndergaard has allowed 4 ER in 11 IP. The key to a win for Thor will be limiting hits. Since joining the Phillies, Thor has allowed 11.4 hits per 9IP.
He’ll be pitching with something to prove as none of the Phillies’ starters behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have shown they can start game 3 of a playoff series. If Thor wants to pitch in the postseason, he’ll have to start missing some bats. That said, he’s also running a 5 K/9 rate since joining the Phillies.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu