It’s hard to know what to make of the Phillies. They don’t seem to be a bad team. And there have even been times when they’ve looked like a good team. But those times are far too brief, and usually quickly undone by horrendous defense or an appearance by David Hale.
The Marlins do not appear to be a good team. Their playoff appearance in 2020 felt like it was mostly a product of a short season and expanded playoffs. Their current 18-22 record this season is likely more representative of the actual talent level on the club.
But as anyone who has followed the Phillies in recent years knows, that probably won’t matter. It doesn’t matter how good or bad any given Marlins team is. For some reason, they always seem to bring out the worst in the Phillies.
Record: 18-22 (Fourth place in National League East)
The Marlins’ better than expected performance in 2020 earned Don Mattingly the National League Manager of the Year award. Considering the Marlins blatantly violated COVID-19 protocols, maybe the league shouldn’t have rewarded him?
I’m still angry that the Phillies had to postpone several games because of them, and were forced to play an ultra-condensed schedule down the stretch.
The last time they met
Because of the aforementioned COVID-19 postponements, the teams had to engage in a seven-game series in September 2020. The Phillies were going through some injury issues at the time, and lost five out of seven.
This prompted the ten Marlins fans in existence - and I was honestly surprised there were even that many - to start talking smack to me on Twitter. They’re apparently VERY insecure about their franchise, but I suppose given their history, that’s understandable.
The next time the Phils play the Marlins, I’ll point out that Marlins fans are thin skinned ninnies with a major inferiority complex.— Smarty Jones Esq. (@TheSmartyJones) September 15, 2020
And that point will be spot on.
A decrease in Sixto-related angst
Last season, Phillies fans were distraught because Sixto Sanchez was drawing comparisons to Pedro Martinez, and J.T. Realmuto was a pending free agent. The trade involving the two looked like it could turn out to be one of the worst in franchise history (and let me tell you, that’s a low set bar).
It comes down to this really. JT Realmuto is very good. Sixto Sanchez is going to be very good. If the Phillies re-sign JT it’ll help. If they fail to re-sign him it’s an unmitigated disaster.— #FireBen (@_Philly_Talk) August 23, 2020
But as we now know, Realmuto is still with the Phillies, and likely will be for the next few years. Meanwhile, Sanchez got knocked around in his final two regular season starts, and again in his lone NLDS appearance. Now he’s dealing with a shoulder injury, and hasn’t thrown a pitch in 2021 - and likely won’t for a while longer.
Just throw strikes, Vinny
Vince Velasquez has been better than expected this season, but even on his best days, he’s not the most efficient pitcher around. Someone should remind him that the Marlins rank dead last in the National League in on-base percentage, and this would be a good game to not spend the early inning nibbling incessantly.
All that Jazz
Rookie infielder Jazz Chisholm has drawn attention for both his unusual name and his strong play. He’s currently leading the league in stolen bases, but (and this is a major assumption at this point) assuming J.T. Realmuto is healthy enough to play, Chisholm might find not find it so easy to swipe a bag.
Here’s a clip of another time a guy named Jazz found himself a bit overmatched:
While I don’t necessarily endorse Realmuto ripping Chisholm in half, it probably would impair his ability to steal bases.
Is anyone actually going to play?
After the debacle on Sunday when the Phillies had zero bench players available, hopefully they used Monday’s day off to decide if the battered players are healthy enough to take the field or require a trip to the IL. It would be nice if they had more appealing options in the minors to call up and replace them, but I believe that Mickey Moniak has a better chance of getting a hit than Didi Gregorius if Didi’s elbow is still too swollen to swing a bat.
Quick look at the Marlins scheduled starters
The Marlins have yet to announce a starter for the series opener (any time now, fellas), but will go with Trevor Rogers and Sandy Alcantara for the final two. After a poor rookie year, Rogers is off to a good start in 2021. However, returning to Philadelphia may dredge up some bad memories, since he was shellacked in his lone start at Citizens Bank Park last year.
Extreme Home Run: Rhys Hoskins vs. Trevor Rogers— 80 Grade Eephus (@8Eephus) September 12, 2020
#5 most extreme home run on the year, 1.476 feet from center of the zone. Check out the leaderboard at: https://t.co/64oEGkQ6uQ#RingTheBell #Phillies #mlb #baseball @rhyshoskins pic.twitter.com/jq6NQX4yDs
On the other hand, Alcantara has an annoying habit of pitching very well at Citizens Bank Park. However, in his last start against them in 2020, they did get to him for six runs in six innings. So maybe they’ve finally figured something out.
Last series’ answer: Charlie Montoyo’s lone at bat against the Phillies came with Mitch Williams on the mound. Phrozen was the first to answer correctly.
This series’ question: The Phillies won three games against the Marlins in 2020. Name the winning pitcher from each of those wins.
What to expect
- The Phillies’ defense will not improve, and will cost them another game
- Velasquez’s ERA against the Marlins has increased every season of his career. It’s going to be tough to do worse than the 10.80 mark he put up in 2020, but his recent run of competence will come to an end this series.
- A day off usually results in success for Bryce Harper, so look for him to add to his career total of 30 home runs against the Marlins.
Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series
Not saying the Phillies have injury problems (okay, I am saying that), but I’ve found myself thinking that Matt Joyce and Roman Quinn really need to hurry back.