Anecdotal evidence can sometimes be an all-consuming thing. You want to believe that something is true, something that just feels like it happened. You twist yourself in knots trying to make your logic seem correct even though deep down, you know that it probably isn’t true.
The past few years, it just feels like anytime the Phillies play the Marlins, Miami is just better. They’re obviously the reason that the Phillies have not made the playoffs, but they have been a thorn in the side of Philadelphia for a few years now. So what is their prognosis for the season? Let’s see how they match up against the Phillies.
Key Marlins departures: Lewis Brinson (OF), Sandy Leon (C), Joe Panik (INF)
Outside of a few spare pieces that the team was going to upgrade anyway, the Marlins haven’t lost much in the way of productive players. Brinson was non-tendered since the team didn’t want to wait to see if the production would finally catch up with the talent, Leon was a free agent and Panik is just a spare bench piece at this point. Nothing significant that the Marlins have lost.
Key Marlins additions: Avisail Garcia (OF), Jorge Soler (OF), Joey Wendle (INF), Jacob Stallings (C)
Knowing that their lineup needed more pop in it, the team went out and signed two outfielders that should provide that pop they need and a catcher that can produce offensively as well as being a longer-term answer behind the plate they have been looking for. Miami was in the running to try and grab Nick Castellanos, but it’s possible that they simply weren’t willing to spend the kind of money necessary to sign that kind of a star. Amiright, Derek?
Wendle could be one of those darkhorse signings that may not light up the marquee, but still gives them someone to move around the infield in case of injury/lack of production from one of their infield spots. He was the “victim” of Tampa Bay’s payroll crunch (one of their own creation) and Miami was there to swoop in and snag him. He could be a valuable piece come deadline time if Miami is out of it.
(all projected lineups via Fangraphs)
Marlins 2022 lineup
|1||2B||Jazz Chisholm, Jr.||553||22||22||0.236||0.300||0.428|
Phillies 2022 lineup
The Marlins’ lineup is still quite weak compared to the potential of the Phillies’ lineup, but that’s a hard comparison to make in the first place. In the context of doing what they’re “able” to do, they improved the bats considerably. They set out to bolster their outfield this offseason and by signing Garcia and Soler, they accomplished that goal. They’re just not as good as what the Phillies added.
It’s definitely an improved lineup over what it was last year, but that’s also due to their signing those two outfielders to bump players down in the lineup. Jesus Aguilar is not someone a team should want getting regular at bats in the third spot in the order, so by signing Soler and Garcia, he can be moved down to a spot more suited to his skillset. Even still, with these additions and reconstructed lineup, the Phillies’ lineup still beats out the one from Miami by a fairly wide margin.
Marlins 2022 rotation
Phillies 2022 rotation
Prior to the signings of Schwarber and Castellanos, one could argue that this was the strength of the Phillies, their starting rotation. They have the Cy Young runner up, a bounce back candidate that has also figured into awards voting at one point and three solid options behind them. It’s a very good rotation.
For Miami, their rotation is easily their strength, anchored by a darkhorse Cy Young candidate. Sandy Alcantara simply doesn’t get enough credit for being an elite arm. All of his numbers - surface level and peripherals - suggest that he should be mentioned when talking about the upper echelon of starting pitchers, but you rarely hear about him. This will be the year that you do. Usually to enter the conversation as an elite starter, one has to have the wins on his ledger. Alcantara has not crossed even into double digit win territory, yet put up a season with 4.2 fWAR last year. Folks, he’s excellent and will give the Phillies fits.
The rest of the rotation is sneakily good, thanks to their next two in Pablo Lopez and Trevor Rogers. Rogers especially was quite good, matching Alcantara’s 4.2 fWAR total and almost winning the Rookie of the Year award. He gave the Phillies a time last year, throwing up a 2.38 ERA in 22 2⁄3 innings across four starts against them. If the Phillies ever have to face Miami’s top three pitchers, they’re in for a dogfight.
Marlins 2022 bullpen
Phillies 2022 bullpen
This one is a case of pick your poison. Neither bullpen is in the upper echelon of collective units league wide, but of the two, the Phillies’ collection seems to have more boom or bust potential. If all of their relievers at least live up to their stuff, they have some real potential to be a good bullpen. The wild card there is Seranthony Dominguez. We’ve all seen his ability to dominate a game, but we haven’t seen him healthy in a few years now. We can look at all the reports we want, but this year, he’s being counted on to be a vital member of this relief corps. If he can get back to where he was, the team has a serious weapon on its hands.
With the Marlins, their bullpen looks like just an average, middle of the road group that won’t cause too much damage, but also isn’t going to be considered one of the elite groups in the league. Nothing wrong with that; the Phillies would have killed to have an average bullpen the past few years. But there isn’t anyone here that really scares you when they start warming up. We’ll have to see how they perform in games before passing final judgement.
Marlins 2022 bench
|OF||Bryan de la Cruz||350||9||3||0.268||0.321||0.412|
Phillies 2022 bench
With the DH making its way into the National League this year, there is less of a need of having a deep bench than ever. Each one of these serves a different purpose though. For the Marlins, their bench has players that can play all over the place in Wendle and Berti, perhaps suggesting they plan on rotating players in and out of the lineup depending on matchups. Not a bad strategy when the offense, on paper, looks as weak as it does.
For the Phillies, their bench consists of one player in Camargo that will probably get more playing time than his projection suggests, while the others are going to be there either for defensive reinforcements or to just give the starters a breather. If any of these bench players exceeds their projected playing time by a large amount, something has gone terribly wrong for the Phillies.
Each year, it feels like the Marlins take the season series from the Phillies. It’s happened the past three seasons, as the Phillies have gone a combined 21-27 when facing the Marlins, something that just cannot happen to a team with playoff aspirations. In the Covid-shortened season of 2020, you could point to their 3-7 mark against Miami as the main reason they were unable to reach the expanded playoffs, but poor play against them has been the main issue these past few seasons.
With this new roster, there really isn’t any more reason the Phillies should be getting beaten by Miami. They have a much improved offense to help offset the pitching advantage, as well as a rotation that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the game. Facing the Marlins’ lineup should give the Phillies the advantage in every game, but as we’ve seen, it’s never that simple, especially when you think about the Marlins’ pitching staff. It is imperative that this season, the Phillies take at least 12 of the 19 games they are scheduled to face Miami. Beating bad teams is the quickest way to getting into the playoffs, so it’s now time for the Phillies to get down to doing so.