The series against the Nationals was going really well..and then suddenly, it wasn’t. But sometimes, all it takes to get back on track is a little vacation. Fortunately for the Phillies, the schedule makers have given them the next best thing: A trip to Miami to play the Marlins.
Record: 3-10, fifth place in National League East
Were the Marlins supposed to be good?
Just about everyone who made predictions about baseball thought the Marlins would finish in fifth place. This is not surprising because they were bad in 2018, and they traded away their best player.
So have the Marlins actually been good?
It depends if you consider a 3-10 record to be good. Since most people would not consider that to be good, I think we can safely answer this question with a no.
They’re also currently on a four-game losing streak, coming off a sweep at the hands of the Reds.
But how about that Jorge Alfaro?
Jorge Alfaro was the starting catcher for the 2018 Phillies. While he didn’t have the greatest year, and showed some definite weaknesses, he also flashed some signs that he could develop into a front-line catcher. Because of that potential, many people - myself included - were wary of trading him away, even if the Phillies were getting a fully-developed front-line catcher in return. (Part of that was because we were still in Macharper limbo at the time, and our happiness felt like it hinged entirely on signing one of those guys.)
Alfaro has started off the season strong hitting three home runs and an .872 OPS. With J.T. Realmuto not tearing things up, some second guessers are wishing they could have Alfaro back. This seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction after two weeks of the season.
Does that mean the Marlins have a dangerous offense?
They currently rank 15th out of 15 National League teams in runs scored, and four members of the regular starting lineup sit below the Mendoza line. Alfaro’s power surge aside, there’s not too much to be worried about there.
Are the Marlins’ pitchers equally bad?
Compared to their hitters, the Marlins’ rotation is like the 2011 Phillies. The scheduled starters for the series are Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, and Jose Urena, and there’s a degree of optimism for each of those guys.
Alcantara has built off a abbreviated major league stint in 2018 and has a 1.50 ERA in his first two starts. Caleb Smith’s high strikeout totals caused people to predict a breakout year for him. (Kind of what they said about Nick Pivetta!) Urena was considered the ace of the staff heading into the season, but after three starts he’s 0-3 with a 9.22 ERA.
Earning his pay
The Marlins have famously slashed their payroll the past couple of years, but they do possess a few guys who make a decent amount of money. Tops among them is veteran pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, who the team signed to a five year/$80 million contract before the 2016 season.
After spending most of his career as a starter, the Marlins moved him to the bullpen this season, and he hasn’t exactly taken to his new role. In his first appearance, he faced two batters, and both reached base. His second outing was a slight improvement as only five of the eleven batters he faced made it on base.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Chen, he was called in to face the Reds on Tuesday.
Wei-Yin Chen is having a rough go of things. Matt Kemp, Eugenio Suarez, and Scott Schebler go back-to-back-to-back for the #Reds.— Today in MLB (@TodayintheMLB) April 10, 2019
Chen allowed 10 runs in his two innings out of the bullpen. pic.twitter.com/5IuYCMkMeG
Chen is the highest paid player on the Marlins. Which position player has the second highest salary?
The Phillies’ hitters vanished in the second half of the Nationals’ series, but it’s too strong of a lineup to stay down for long. And facing the Marlins’ punchless lineup seems like a great way for the Phillies’ pitching staff to straighten things out. The Phillies will take two of three, and we’ll all end the weekend feeling better about the team.