The Phillies (3-6) kick off a three game homestand against the Marlins (4-6) tonight after coming off the first series win this weekend against the Reds. Despite the series win, a ninth-inning loss on Sunday highlighted ongoing early season issues with the starting pitching which has placed a heavy reliance on an overworked bullpen. Coupled with key bats going cold, poor baserunning, and a smattering of costly fielding errors, at times it feels as though the season has been smothered before it ever had a chance to walk. This series at home against the Marlins, which once looked like a welcome reprieve after the Rangers and Yankees, now appears to be anything but a sure bet.
The Marlins’ offense is less than outstanding, scoring three or fewer runs in all but two outings. Garrett Cooper, Luis Arraez, and Bryan De Le Cruz have all hit well, but the rest of the lineup, including Jazz Chisholm, has been fair to middling.
Phillies fans should be delighted to welcome the return of Jean Segura to CBP for the first time this season, in which he will receive his 2022 NL Championship ring. It’s going to be odd to see Jimmy Cigarettes in the batter’s box for another team. With the signing of Trea Turner in the offseason, the Phillies declined their club option, worth $17 million, with Segura, and he subsequently signed a two-year $17 million deal with the Marlins as a free agent. Jean spent four years in pinstripes and carried a reliable bat and a big personality in the clubhouse.
Jean Segura will receive his 2022 NL Championship ring on the field pregame tonight from Phillies owner John Middleton pic.twitter.com/bssladC7rK— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 10, 2023
Tonight, last year’s NL Cy Young award winner Sandy Alcantara is scheduled to face off against Matt Strahm. Alcantara pitched a complete game on April 4th and allowed only three hits and no runs in a tight 1-0 shutout against the Twins. In Strahm’s last outing, he pitched four solid innings against the Yankees, giving up a single hit, no runs, and striking out three. While Alcantara was a dominant figure on the mound last year, the Phillies managed to get to him in four out of the six games in which he started against them. As a Phillie, Nick “Wolfie” Maton was the only hitter in 2022 to twice go to yard off Alcantara.
Nick Maton (5)— Phillies Homeruns (@PhilliesHRS) February 8, 2023
2 Run Home Run
Opponent: Miami Marlins
Pitcher: Sandy Alcantara
Date: 09/13/2022 pic.twitter.com/cCrPhaIOgX
On Tuesday, Aaron Nola will go to the mound against Jesús Luzardo. Luzardo started the season off strong, throwing 5.2 shutout innings in a win against the Mets, and seven innings in a win against the Twins in which he game up only one run over five hits and struck out ten. Nola has had an uncharacteristically rough start, getting tagged for five runs in the fourth inning of the season opener against the Rangers, and giving up three runs over six innings in the Bronx. If Luzardo continues to dominate like he has, the Phillies have their work cut out for them.
Wednesday brings what will hopefully be much needed respite when Zack Wheeler is scheduled to tussle with Edward Cabrera. Cabrera carries a 5.40 ERA after giving up seven walks and two runs over 2.2 innings in a loss against the Mets. In his other outing this year, also a loss to the Mets, he lasted four innings, giving up six walks and two runs. Like Nola, Wheeler had a rough initial outing, giving up five runs in a 16-3 rout against Texas. He fared much better in his most recent start against the Reds, giving up only two runs over 5.1 innings.
Phillies pitching needs to tighten up their per-inning pitch counts and walk fewer batters. While batting slumps are an unavoidable part of baseball, the top of the lineup needs to climb out the hole they’re in and start to contribute. Stott, Bohm, Marsh, and Castellanos have all done well at the plate lately. But the middle and back of the lineup can’t carry the team. The Phillies will face two Marlins’ pitchers who have the ability to shut down any offense. They need to show enough discipline at the plate to either find a way to get on base or to run up the pitch count in order to get to their bullpen.
What to Expect
Honestly, who knows? This team has won games they should have lost and lost games they should have won, stealing defeat from the jaws of victory just last night. If the bats at the top of the order come to life, we could be looking at another series win. If they don’t then it’s a crap shoot as to whether this series ends in frustration or with Stott pouring ice water down someone’s back.
Let’s hope for the latter.