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Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs
The Marlins have had a lot of unsuccessful walks back to the dugout
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Who’s afraid of the big bad fish? Phillies vs. Marlins preview

A series against the Marlins doesn’t seem so daunting these days

When the Phillies went to Miami for the final series before the All-Star break, I wasn’t feeling too good about their chances. My pessimism felt justified as the Phillies weren’t playing well at the time, and Miami hasn’t been the most hospitable city for them in recent years.

Naturally, the Phillies swept the three-game set.

The Marlins will visit Philadelphia this week, and I’m feeling much more positive this time. The Phillies have been bolstered by trade acquisitions and are currently riding a five-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Marlins are an injury-plagued fourth place team languishing ten games below .500.

Miami Marlins

Record: 49-59 (Fourth place in National League East, 21 games back)

The last time they met

As mentioned, the Phillies took a trip to Miami before the All-Star Game and won all three games. The Phillies’ pitching staff was fantastic in the series. After giving up a run in the second inning of the first game, they held the Marlins scoreless for the remainder of the series.

Since then?

The second half has not been kind to the Marlins, as evidenced by their 6-11 post-All-Star record. The scariest thing about that poor record is that with the exception of a three-game series against the Mets - in which the Marlins were swept - they’ve been facing other bad teams. When you’re getting beat by teams like the Reds and the Cubs, you know things aren’t going well.

Who’s cold?

The entire offense.

They have the fewest runs scored in the league since the All-Star Break, ranking behind the dreadful Pirates and the Nationals who barely even count as a team these days.

Not much movement

Despite seemingly being out of the playoff picture, the Marlins weren’t big sellers at the trade deadline, with their only move being to send away two relievers. When you look at the Marlins’ roster, their inactivity makes sense. Most of their players are either not good or injured.

There was speculation they might trade starting pitcher Pablo Lopez, but I’m not sure why they would since he’s under team control for three more years. Then again, it didn’t really make sense for the Nationals to trade Juan Soto, and the Marlins do have a history of sending away talented players.

Injuries

Here are just some of the Marlins players currently dealing with injuries: Jazz Chisholm (Sorry to anyone hoping to hear John Kruk pronounce his name), Brian Anderson, Jorge Soler, Jon Berti, and Trevor Rogers.

I’d feel bad for them but considering how much trouble this team has given the Phillies in recent years, I’m having trouble working up too much sympathy.

Sandy vs. Thor

Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this season, but the Marlins lost the last two games he started against the Phillies. Alcantara didn’t pitch poorly in either game, but the Phillies happened to receive excellent performances by their own starters both times.

They’ll probably need a similarly strong start on Wednesday, and the man tasked with that job is Noah Syndergaard. Thor’s first post-trade start didn’t go as well as we hoped, but there’s reason to believe that things will be better this time. In 13 career starts against the Marlins, he’s 7-2 with a 2.25 ERA.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Trea Turner’s 67 home runs are second most for the Nationals since Juan Soto’s debut. Andy from BL got it right.

This series’ question: Over the past ten years, there have been three times when a Phillies player hit five or more home runs against the Marlins in a single season. Who are the three?

Another trip around the sun

I’m celebrating a birthday today, but you don’t have to get me a present. Instead, I’m asking you to follow me on Twitter. Why? That’s a good question since I probably spend too much time on the app as is, and also, I’m pretty bad at it. You’ll get an occasional good tweet, but it’s quickly buried under dozens of bad ones.

Regardless, any new followers I get @TheSmartyJones over the next two days will get a shout here in Friday’s preview.

If you don’t do the Twitter or already follow me, but still want to do something nice, why not donate to charity in my honor? I’m a fan of Heifer International, where you can donate money towards providing cows or sheep (sadly no horses) and other resources to impoverished communities around the world.

You know what? Donating to charity is probably a much better idea than the Twitter thing, so go ahead and do that instead. Anyone who helps will similarly get a shout out on Friday.

Closing thought

Just like my pessimism was misguided the last time these teams faced each other, it’s very possible my optimism might be misguided this time around. Sure, the Phillies are on a five-game winning streak, but four of those wins were against the Nationals, and that barely counts.

Overconfidence in the Phillies rarely pays off, and it’s possible that an increased (although not by that much) degree in difficulty might cause some struggles. Then again, this Phillies team seems to be built differently than recent editions. Surely this bunch won’t allow themselves to get tripped up by the Marlins, right? Right?

Gamethread 9/25: Braves at Phillies

Baseball is a game of inches, or so I’m told: Braves 6, Phillies 3

Gamethread 9/24: Braves at Phillies