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MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies
This guy again??
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Not a trip to the beach: Phillies vs. Marlins series preview

The Phillies should win this series, but it won’t necessarily be easy

For the last time in 2022, the Phillies will be taking on the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are a fourth-place non-contender whom the Phillies have done well against this season. But that doesn’t mean this series will be easy for them.

I realize the Phillies swept the last time they visited Miami, but I’ve watched far too many nightmarish series in Marlins Park over the past few seasons to be confident that those struggles are definitively behind them. And for a team with a losing record, the Marlins are throwing some good starting pitchers at the Phillies this week.

Miami Marlins

Record: 57-82 (Fourth place in National League, East)

The last time they met

Last week, the Marlins came to Philadelphia, and after dropping two straight to start the series, they took advantage of David Robertson’s dead arm in the ninth to salvage the finale.

Since then?

The Marlins lost two of three to the Mets, and then split a doubleheader against the Rangers.

Who’s cold?

You may remember J.J. Bleday as the guy who dropped an easy fly ball against the Phillies last week. You won’t remember him for his recent hitting prowess, because he’s batting just .111 with zero home runs over the past two weeks.

When this starts happening to a guy, you know things are going poorly:

Game-by-game preview

Tuesday, 6:40 PM - Bailey Falter vs. Sandy Alcantara

I know, you see another matchup against Alcantara and think, “Oh no, not him again!” but it might not be so bad. Alcantara is still definitely one of the favorites for the Cy Young Award, but his recent performances aren’t going to help his candidacy. He’s given up five or more runs in three of his past four starts, including his last turn against the Phillies when he blew a three-run lead. And that came after he blew a late lead in his previous start against them.

Alcantara looks like a guy who may have gotten a little worn down over the long season. And I don’t blame him, considering the Marlins’ offense is largely moribund and he rarely has much margin for error.

On the other hand, Bailey Falter has improved as the season has gone on and has actually been the Phillies’ most consistent starter over the past month. He earned a win in his last start against the Marlins and looks like a guy who wants to be penciled into the team’s 2023 rotation.

Wednesday, 6:40 PM - Kyle Gibson vs. Edward Cabrera

Rookie Edward Cabrera has had success against the Phillies, shutting them out over 5.2 innings in his only start against them. That was part of a four-start stretch in August when he didn’t allow a single earned run. Curiously, this will be the first time he’s made a second start against a given opponent this season. We’ll see if the Phillies have a better plan to attack him this time around.

As for Gibson, after an excellent month of August, he’s been very bad in September (Eleven runs in two starts). Gibson may be pitching for a spot in a potential postseason rotation, but if he doesn’t start pitching better in the regular season, there may not be a postseason for him to pitch in.

Thursday, 6:40 PM - Noah Syndergaard vs. Pablo Lopez

Speaking of guys who would fill you with no confidence if they had to pitch in the playoffs, there’s Syndergaard. For the most part, Thor has been what the Phillies hoped he would be: A competent innings eater at the back of their rotation. I think his turns would seem a lot more palatable to everyone if the Phillies also had a healthy Zack Wheeler at the front of their rotation.

Somehow, this is only Lopez’s second start against the Phillies this year. That seems unfair. We couldn’t have subbed out a couple Alcantara starts - the Phillies’ success against him notwithstanding - for a Lopez start. Not that Lopez is bad. He’s generally a good pitcher who mixes in some absolute stinkers, such as his last start when the Mets rocked him for eight runs. He probably wishes at least a couple of those starts against the Mets could have come against the Phillies.

Zach attack

It wasn’t necessarily the Zac(h/k) we wanted, but Zach Eflin has returned to the Phillies rotation. As mentioned earlier, the Phillies’ have some less-than-desirable options for a potential postseason rotation, and it may turn out that Eflin as opener might be one of the better ones. Considering Ranger Suarez has had some issues with the middle innings, he might be a good candidate to piggyback with Eflin.

This may be getting ahead of ourselves a bit though. Let’s see Eflin record a few effective innings without pain before we start counting on him in any playoff plans.

Happy 500

Tuesday’s game is a milestone between these teams:

Recent history has made most of us not realize just how successful the Phillies have been against the Marlins over the years.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Alec Bohm and Matt Vierling each recorded four-hit games against the Nats in 2021. SLDH got it.

This series’ question: Since Marlins Park opened in 2012, only one Phillies player has hit multiple triples in a single game there. Who was it?

Non-Phillies thought

Sunday was a good day for me. First, the Eagles won. (Maybe it was closer than it should have been, but a win’s a win.) Then, the Phillies belatedly finished off their sweep of the Nats. And finally, I got to watch the Dallas Cowboys’ season crumble to pieces on Sunday night.

Closing thought

The Phillies’ schedule will get tougher after this, so they really need to win this series. Despite what I said about their issues playing in Miami and the quality Marlins’ pitching staff, this is a team that the Phillies should absolutely beat.

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