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Stupid times ahead: Phillies vs. Marlins series preview

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I didn’t want to write about the Marlins, but I did it anyway

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not right about everything, but I certainly nailed it the last time the Phillies played the Marlins when I said the series would probably turn out to be stupid and annoying. Not like such a prediction makes me Nostradamus or anything, since 90% of the games the Phillies have played against the Marlins in recent years have been stupid and annoying.

At least the games last week were at Citizens Bank Park. Now the Phillies have to travel to Miami for a four-game series, and the Phillies haven’t been all that great on the road this season. The bar has been set pretty low when it comes to Phillies vs. Marlins, but considering how they’ve looked in recent games (and they won’t have Zack Wheeler on the mound in the series) I think the Phillies could look even worse this time around.

Miami Marlins

Record: 22-24 (Fourth place in National League East)

The last time they met

It was the aforementioned series where the Phillies won one of the games - and were fortunate to win that one. Some of the starting pitchers they faced are pretty good; others are not. But it didn’t really matter, because the Phillies’ hitters spent most of the series striking out no matter who was on the mound. Then again, the Phillies’ hitters spend most of just about every series striking out. It’s kind of their thing.

I don’t want to write about the Marlins

Here’s the problem with these series previews: When the Phillies face the same opponent in consecutive weeks, I often find myself with a dearth of material to write about for the second series. I already mentioned how the Marlins bring out the worst in the Phillies, and I already discussed Jazz Chisholm’s name - and commenters mentioned all the ways that name can be botched either intentionally or not.

Shout out to fearless leader Ethan Witte who supplied this suggestion for how to preview the series:

We suck against Miami and just played them. 6:40 is a stupid start time for games. Go Phillies.

My take on the Philadelphia 76ers

I’m sure that some people will get annoyed at me writing about basketball on a Phillies’ site, but my guess is that most of the people who would get annoyed at such a thing stopped reading anything I wrote years ago. Since there’s a decent amount of overlap between Sixers and Phillies fans - and as mentioned, I really don’t want to write about the Marlins - why not spend some time assessing the Sixers’ chances in the playoffs now that they’ve gotten a game under their belts?

  1. The board may never be set up so well for the Sixers to win a title. They’re healthy, there’s no looming powerhouse team out there, and all the supposedly tougher conference opponents are on the other side of the bracket.
  2. The presence of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook makes the Wizards “dangerous,” but that’s the nature of the playoffs. There aren’t many bad teams in the field, and you’re going to have to beat some very good teams at some point.
  3. Those aforementioned dangerous Wizards players will probably keep the Sixers from sweeping, but they aren’t enough to keep the Sixers from winning the series.
  4. Ben Simmons is an extremely talented player with great strengths, but I fear his deficiencies on offense will prevent him from ever being one of the two best players on a championship team. For as good as he was in some aspects on Sunday, the team was clearly hesitant to use him as the primary ball-handler down the stretch, and that kept them from putting the game away earlier than they did.
  5. Simmons’ weaknesses might not matter if they can get elite performance out of Joel Embiid for four games every series.

Fine, here’s something about the Marlins

Sandy Alcantara shut down the Phillies last week, which isn’t a shock since he seems to always shut down the Phillies. For his career, he’s 5-1 against the Phils with a 2.42 ERA. Somewhat surprisingly, the Phillies OPS of .692 against him is only the 11th lowest for all the teams he’s faced. So he’s not just a Phillie-killer, he’s a good pitcher who happens to get a lot of starts against the Phillies.

To make myself feel better about their chances against him this week, I decided to look at the one time the Phillies actually beat him back in April 2019. In the third inning, the Phillies had six consecutive hits, scoring five runs. Surprisingly, all six of the players who got those hits are still on the team. Alcantara was outpitched by Jake Arrieta, who was off to a good start that season before being felled by injuries.

So maybe the key is that they should bring back Arrieta?

In case you were curious how Jake was doing this season, much like in 2019, he got off to a good start. But a couple of poor recent starts have inflated his ERA. Also, considering how much he seemed to dislike the Phillies’ defense while he was here, I can’t imagine he’d have many good things to say about this year’s team.

Punchable face analysis

When there’s nothing else to discuss, I can always rely on at least a couple of opposing players having punchable faces. And sure enough, here’s pitcher Pablo Lopez.

MLB: Miami Marlins-Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

At first, you might not want to punch Lopez, because he has somewhat of a babyface, and you might feel bad about punching an actual child. But the patchy beard reminds us that he is indeed an adult, and is as eligible as the rest of us to take a punch. I’m not crazy about his “smile,” as it feels more like he’s trying to convey the impression of a smile rather than actually smiling at us.

Trivia

Last series’ question: It was a bit of a trick question as people might not have remembered that the first meeting between the Phillies and Red Sox came in the 1915 World Series. The Phils took game one of the series behind Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander. As mentioned in the comments, after winning that game, the Phillies went on to lose their next eight World Series games (and the next eleven postseason games in total), and wouldn’t rack up another victory in the Fall Classic until 1980. MoButterMakerBlues was first with the correct answer.

This series question: The Marlins’ franchise first ever game was a 6-3 win over the Dodgers on April 5, 1993. Three players who saw action for the Marlins that day would go on to play for the Phillies later in their career. Name them.

What to expect

  • Vince Velasquez’s finger will allow him to make his scheduled start on Tuesday. But it won’t go very well.
  • Rhys Hoskins will double his home run total for the month of May by hitting another one at some point over the four games.
  • Spencer Howard will figure out a way to not have his velocity drop by a frightening degree in the third inning. (He still won’t make it past four, but it will be a little more encouraging.)

Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series

Alec Bohm is having a miserable season, but he really seemed to like playing in Miami in 2020 (1.170 OPS in seven games). Maybe a trip to South Beach will help cure what ails him.