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Abnormality is the new normal: Phillies vs. Marlins series preview

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If you’re hoping things will get better this week, you haven’t paid close attention

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati Reds
The Phillies are likely trying to figure out who’s going to screw up this one
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

If the Phillies were a good baseball team, they would have won their last six games. All of the games were winnable if not for some ridiculously bad relief pitching, and the usual poor level of defense. A normal team would have probably taken four - three at the least. But the Phillies are most definitely not normal, so they only won two of them - and it feels somewhat lucky that they even won those two.

Seems like a great time to face the team that seems to always bring the most abnormality out of them.

Miami Marlins

Record: 33-44 (Fifth place in National League East)

The last time they met

The Phillies visited South Florida in late May and split a four-game series. The series featured an eighth-inning blown save, which has become a common occurrence these days.

Since then?

The Marlins have struggled to a 9-15 record in June. If anyone believes that the recent stretch of poor play will matter in this series, you obviously haven’t paid attention to how things go when these teams square off.

Least valuable player

With Jorge Alfaro dealing with injuries for much of the season, a heavy burden has fallen upon backup catcher Sandy Leon. That isn’t ideal if a team wants to get much production out of the catcher position. The journeyman backup hasn’t had a batting average over .200 since 2017, and it doesn’t appear that the streak is going to be broken in 2021.

And what about Alfaro?

The former Phillies hasn’t really torn it up at the plate since taking over the majority of playing time. He still strikes out a ton, and at age 28, it doesn’t look like he’ll ever develop into the frontline catcher the Phillies once hoped he’d become.

Another Jazz fest?

Jazz Chisholm has all the makings of an emerging constant thorn in the Phillies’ side. So it’s a good sign that he’s not coming into the series hot. He’s batting just .188 over the past two weeks, and there have been complaints about his defense at second base.

Does this mean he’s due to have a bad series? Of course not! As mentioned earlier, things don’t work the way conventional logic says they should when these teams get together, and the shift in logic very rarely favors the Phillies.

The realities of the modern bullpen

It used to be that a starting pitcher would be allowed to go up to 120 pitches in a start if he was doing well. These days, if a starter gets over 100 pitches or to the third time through the order, as soon as a runner gets on base, he’s pulled from the game. And then, it seems on any given day, at least two relievers are unavailable because they pitched at some point in the previous two days. Which means teams need at least six good relievers and a manager who knows how to handle them.

I think everyone will agree that the Phillies don’t have either of those things. For heaven’s sake, we’ve had both Matt Moore and Neftali Feliz - in his first major league appearance in four years! - being used in critical spots! Why is it that the fans are able to see that those decisions weren’t going to work out, yet the manager always tries to explain some logic behind them.

Punchable face analysis

Here’s Jesus Aguilar, and ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got ourselves a sneerer!

MLB: Miami Marlins-Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

The whole “taking a picture” process doesn’t take all that long, so you wonder why these guys can’t smile, or at least look normal for a few seconds. Instead, Aguilar has chosen to sneer at the camera, and you just want to punch him to make him smile or look even remotely grateful.

Trivia

Last series answer: The Phillies who have hit more than five home runs at Citi Field are Chase Utley (11), Ryan Howard (11), Jimmy Rollins (8), Maikel Franco (8), and Rhys Hoskins (8). EbbyCalvinLaLoosh with the correct answer.

This series’ question: What player has the most hits at Marlins Park (opened in 2012) as a member of the Phillies?

What to expect

  • The bullpen follies will continue with at least one late inning blown lead.
  • J.T Realmuto will have a good series against his old team. Will it matter? Probably not!
  • Watching Vince Velasquez pitch in the high heat and humidity will cause people to question why they watch baseball in the first place.

Closing thought that may or may not be about the series

If it makes anyone feel better, I’m on vacation at the beach this week, so it’s easy enough to tune out the Phillies’ struggles.