Series Preview: Phillies Splash down in the 305 to Face Marlins

Philadelphia Phillies’ Brandon Marsh reacts to his 2 RBI single during the third inning of a baseball game against San Francisco Giants, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

After losing a seven-game winning streak their last time out on the diamond, the Philadelphia Phillies will head back on the road and face the Miami Marlins in a three-game series.

The Phillies posted an offensive explosion in the first matchup of a two-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays but their bats failed to launch in the second game, losing 5-3 on Wednesday afternoon. Despite the loss, the Phillies are taking plenty of momentum with them to South Beach. They haven’t lost consecutive games in over two weeks and own the best record in MLB at 26-12.

The Marlins, meanwhile, are one of the very worst teams in the majors. It’s the same as it ever was for the Fish; they’re in the process of dismantling a playoff team. The most recent fire sale started by trading Luis Arraez, the National League’s reigning batting champion, to the San Diego Padres. Jazz Chisholm Jr., Jesus Luzardo and more are expected to be traded before the July 30 trade deadline. Miami’s 10-29 record is the third-worst in MLB, besting only the Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox.

To put it bluntly, the Phillies have no business losing to these Marlins. Miami has punched above its weight in the past few seasons against Philly but this year’s team is truly abysmal. When they face off for the first time this season, the Phils should be expected to come away with three wins.

First pitches are scheduled for 7:10 PM on Friday, 4:10 PM on Saturday and 1:40 PM on Sunday (all times EST) at loanDepot park.

Starting pitchers

Ranger Suarez is expected to start opposite of left-handed starter Trevor Rogers on Friday night. While Rogers seeks his first win of the season, Suarez will aim to keep his spotless record intact.

Suarez has been lights out this season, pitching 47.0 innings in his first seven starts and recording a 1.72 ERA and a 0.723 WHIP. He’s well on his way to making his first career All-Star game. It should almost be expected that he pitches into at least the eighth inning against the Marlins.

Taijaun Walker will make his third start of the season on Saturday, looking to keep improving across his first two starts, which each went 6.1 innings. After allowing six runs and two walks while striking out four in his first start in San Diego, he allowed three runs and one walk while striking out seven at home against the San Francisco Giants. The Marlins’ starter for Saturday is yet to be determined.

Zack Wheeler will start Sunday afternoon’s game. The Phillies ace is in the midst of another excellent season, rocking a 1.64 ERA across 49.1 innings. Braxton Garrett, another lefty, is expected to make his first start of the season for Miami in the Mother’s Day showdown.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber, right, slides into home before San Francisco Giants catcher Tom Murphy, left, could get the throw to score a run during the third inning of a baseball game, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Matchup to watch: Bryan De La Cruz vs. The World (the Phillies lineup)

The Marlins have just one qualified hitter no with an OPS+ above 110. Fittingly, it’s their designated hitter. Bryan De La Cruz has been a strong extra-base-hit threat, posting a 123 OPS+ with eight homers and eight doubles. However, especially after Arraez’s departure, the lineup outside of him is not at all intimidating.

The Marlins have just two other hitters, the center fielder Chisholm and utility player Vidal Brujan, who are sitting above the surface in the OPS+ waters across 50 plate appearances. The rest of their main starters are sunken below 80. Catcher Nick Fortes lags way, way behind at just four. FOUR! His OPS of .364 would fit in well if it were his on-base percentage instead. Even Nick Castellanos and Johan Rojas are well into the .500 territory (at .555 and .560 respectively).

Against a Phillies pitching staff with the best FIP and second-best strikeout rate in MLB, the Marlins are almost certain to be cooked so much that they’ll need to be served with a side of chips. Miami’s rate of striking out at the plate is one of the 10 best in the majors but its walk rate is the very worst. This lineup is just not very good.

The Phillies, meanwhile, have six hitters with an OPS+ above 110, though one of them is the injured Trea Turner. They should feast against one of the worst pitching teams in the majors. It helps that Edmundo Sosa has stepped up at shortstop, notching an on-base streak of five games.

Bryce Harper cooled off last game but had a home run in each of the three prior games. Bryson Stott is starting to heat up, posting a .983 OPS during the Phillies’ winning streak. J.T. Realmuto has moved up to the second spot in the lineup due to Turner’s injury and has notched a four-game hitting streak. Against a team with so much left-handed pitching, the former Marlin could be in for a huge series.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)