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Heat check: Phillies vs. Marlins series preview

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A series in Miami should tell us if the Phillies are serious about making the playoffs

MLB: JUL 18 Marlins at Phillies
Cutch needs to stay hot in Miami
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Phillies took care of business against the Diamondbacks and Nationals, winning six of the seven games. That has gotten them within striking distance of first place, but now they have a real test in front of them: A series against the Marlins in Miami.

On paper, a series against a last place team should give them Phillies an opportunity to rack up some more wins. But as Phillies fans well know, the Marlins often bring out the absolute worst in the Phillies.

If they’re able to continue the run of strong play in Miami, then maybe those playoff hopes aren’t so farfetched after all.

Miami Marlins

Record: 55-79 (Fifth place in National League East)

The last time they met

The Phillies kicked off their second-half schedule against the Marlins, and it actually went pretty well, with the Phils taking three out of four. They managed to compact most of their bad play into one game (A 7-0 loss in a doubleheader nightcap) rather than spreading it out over all four.

From bad to worse

After making the playoffs in 2020, some considered the Marlins to be a team on the rise.

That sentiment has faded. After a poor 39-51 record in the first half, they’ve been even worse in the second, going 16-27. That includes a losing streak of eight games.

The Marlins’ offense has been bad all year, but in the first half, they could at least rely on a decent pitching staff. Their team ERA was sixth best in the NL in the first half, but in the second half, that rank has dropped to 12th.

Will it matter?

Since the start of the 2018 season, the Phillies are 11-18 in Miami. That would be bad enough at any stadium, but it seems that much worse because the Marlins have been a really bad team for most of that time. The Marlins finished in last place in 2018 and 2019, and the only thing that might keep them out of the basement this year is the free fall of the Washington Nationals.

This tweet was written two years ago, and things haven’t gotten better since then:

A bad combination

Is anyone else worried about a Phillies roster that has been notoriously resistant to taking the vaccine heading down to Florida, a state that has been notoriously resistant to not having people die of COVID?

Not all that Jazz

Early in the season, Jazz Chisholm looked like he was en route to becoming one of the National League’s most exciting players. But like most of his teammates, he’s been a major disappointment in the second half. His post-All-Star OPS is just .667, and he hasn’t made up for it on the base paths, having been caught stealing a league-leading seven times.

This may be another instance of a player becoming overrated because of a cool nickname. I realize that his full name is Jasrado, and Jazz is just a shortening of that, but if he went by Jasrado, would people be as enamored of him? Probably not.

The seven-run kids

The Phillies’ lineup doesn’t currently look that imposing, but darn it, it’s working! After a stretch where they could barely get any runs across the plate, the Phillies have now scored seven or more in seven straight games. This isn’t something that happens very often for the franchise.

It’s nice that Andrew McCutchen and Brad Miller have abruptly snapped out of long slumps and become actual hitters again, and Odubel Herrera has been really good at the top of the lineup. Of course, they’ve had the rising tide that is Bryce Harper being consistently great in the three-hole, even if he didn’t win the NL’s Player of the Month award for August. (Believe it or not, Colorado’s C.J. Cron had an even better month. Should Harper’s performance in a playoff push factor more into the decision? I don’t know)

Trivia

Last series’ answer: The six Nationals who were also Phillies were: Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Brad Lidge, Roger Bernadina, Brad Lidge, and John Lannan. Simmonds17 was first to name four of the six.

This series’ question: In September 2015, a Phillie had a multi-home run game in Nationals Park, the only time a Phillies player has done that since the stadium opened in 2012. Who was he?

What to expect

  • The Phillies’ seven-run streak will end.
  • Zack Wheeler may be wearing down after a long season, and pitching in the Florida sun on Sunday afternoon will result in a disappointing start.
  • Marlins starter Trevor Rogers has had his way with the Phillies this season, and that will continue as he holds them to under three runs.

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

It feels that whenever the Phillies have had a stretch of success this season, they soon match it with an equal run of failure. So it’s understandable why despite the six-game winning streak, it feels like disaster is imminent. Wouldn’t it be nice if they proved us wrong about that?