Armed with their good luck bamboo, the Phillies have firmly established that they are not the most embarrassing team in the National League East. With a four-game winning streak in hand, they’ll head to Miami to take on the last place Marlins. At first glance, that makes for some easy games, but last week’s series against the Marlins should have made for easy games too, and the Phillies lost them all.
Record: 30-48, Fifth place in National League East
The last time they met
The reeling Phillies thought they caught a break when the Marlins came to town last weekend. Instead, their woes continued as the Marlins won all three games.
Keeping that momentum going
The Marlins followed up that series by getting swept in turn by the Nationals.
Your All-Star: Miguel Rojas
Every team gets a representative in the annual All-Star Game. Some teams have a plethora of worthy candidates for the honor. For other teams - and the Phillies are sadly among them - viable representatives are harder to find. And then there’s the Marlins, whose roster isn’t exactly littered with players having strong seasons.
In all the years I have followed and covered the Marlins I have never been 6 days away from the All Star Game announcement and not had a clue who their guy will be. This week could decide it.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) June 25, 2019
Manager Don Mattingly is making a case for shortstop Miguel Rojas. Normally, you wouldn’t see someone with a .680 OPS in the game, but Rojas has been strong defensively, and his on-base percentage is a respectable .342. As long as you can look past his complete lack of power, Rojas is as good a choice as anyone on the Miami roster.
Speaking of All-Stars
The Marlins do have a couple of former All-Stars on their roster, but neither man is going to see this year’s game without a ticket. Curtis Granderson is batting .188, yet his on-base percentage is higher than Starlin Castro’s .258 mark. According to Baseball Reference, the duo have been worth a combined -1.2 wins this season.
Scheduled Marlins starters
The Phillies will not have to face Sandy Alcantara this time around, which figures to be a break for them. Instead, the Marlins will send Elieser Hernandez, Jordan Yamamoto, and Trevor Richards to the mound.
Hernandez began the season in the minors, and his start against the Phillies last week was just his third of the season. He gave up three runs (including two home runs) in five innings. Yamamoto is a rookie whose career is off to an excellent start. He didn’t allow a run in his first two starts, and while the Phillies managed to score a couple of runs against him last week, he struck out seven batters in five innings to raise his record to 3-0.
Trevor Richards is performing fairly well in his second major league season. However, in his previous start against the Phillies, they scored five runs in four innings. He’s also coming off a very poor start against the Nationals in which he gave up six runs in five innings.
Vinny’s last stand?
It seems that out of necessity, Vince Velasquez is back in the Phillies’ rotation. He’ll get the start against the Marlins on Friday, and the good news is that he’s pitched well against them throughout his career. In 12 career starts against Miami, he’s 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA. With the trade deadline approaching, if he can’t show that level of effectiveness this time around, his return to the rotation might be short.
Bamboo in Florida
Now that the bamboo has saved the Phillies’ season, we’ll have to see if it maintains its magical powers away from the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. I decided to check to see if bamboo grows in South Florida, and apparently the clumping varieties of the plant thrive in the warm climate.
I’m not sure what kind of bamboo plant the Phillies have. Hopefully it is a type that likes the heat. Either way, it is definitely making the trip.
The winning streak can’t continue forever, but it will last two more games before the Phillies drop the finale.