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Topped off: Phillies vs. Marlins series preview

The Phillies are making their manager look bad.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Tampa Bay Rays
Rob Thomson hasn’t been great, but his players have been much worse.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies’ series against the Pirates was ugly as can be. They lost two of three to a last place team - and looked awful in doing so - and the one game they did win, you could say they were lucky to do so.

That’s been a common theme with all the Phillies’ recent wins. Their last win where you didn’t say, “Whoa, that was a close one,” or, “How did they pull that out?” was probably the Saturday night game against San Diego over two weeks ago. (And earlier in the day, they needed a late comeback to win the first game of the day’s doubleheader.)

All of these close games are drawing additional focus on moves made by manager Rob Thomson, and he’s definitely made some questionable ones. From regularly sitting his two most consistent hitters, to his lineup shuffling (or lack of), to his early call to the bullpen on Sunday afternoon (If Cristopher Sanchez was sick, he should get sick more often because he didn’t give up a hit!), it feels like “Topper” has not been doing a great job as of late.

On the other hand, the players can go a long way towards making a manager’s moves look smart, and the Phillies largely haven’t done that. Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos have made the All-Star Game within the past two seasons, and theoretically, either one would be a fine option in the second spot in the lineup. In reality, they seem to be locked in a competition for who can be the worst player in baseball for the month of July.

In the past, putting Seranthony Dominguez into a close game would have been a solid move. But the current version of Dominguez is either still injured or needs to rediscover his groove.

The Phillies players seem to like Thomson. If that’s the case, then they need to start playing better, and definitely need to play smarter. Because the many mental mistakes we witnessed over the weekend do not reflect well on the manager.

Anyway, the Phillies are about to begin a four-game series in Miami, a city where they’ve had some notable struggles over the years. Which means there’s a good chance that the sloppy play we’ve grown accustomed to will continue for another four days.

Miami Marlins

Record: 57-49, Second place in National League East (11.5 games back)

The manager

Jared “Skip” Schumaker had an eleven-year playing career as a utility infielder, mostly for the Cardinals. Many people had him pegged as a future manager, because people love to peg “scrappy” white utility infielders as future managers, and if the guy happens to have a nickname of Skip, it’s pretty much a given.

The last time they met

The Phillies were in Miami for the three games before the All-Star break, and after winning the first game, decided to start their vacation a little early. The finale gave us one of those bad Aaron Nola starts that we all love so much.

Since then?

The Marlins didn’t carry that momentum through the break and lost their first eight games after the break. They’ve since recovered to win four of six since then though.

Who’s hot?

Luis Arraez continues to establish himself as one of the NL’s brightest young stars, with a .381 on-base percentage in the second half. He’ll be quite the attractive trade target in a few years when the Marlins hold their next fire sale.

Who’s not?

Both Joey Wendle and Jorge Soler have batting averages under .200 since the break with just one home run combined between them.

Handsome Dave!

Believe it or not, the Marlins were actually buyers at the trade deadline, acquiring our handsome old friend David Robertson from the Mets.

In theory, the trade helps shore up the Marlins’ bullpen. But as any Phillies fan can tell you, midseason trades for relievers can be somewhat of a crapshoot. We all recall Robertson wearing down at the end of last season after a heavy workload. I know it would be a real shame if he similarly struggled down the stretch for the Marlins.

Non-Phillies thought

Apparently, I’m one of very few Eagles fans who isn’t overly excited about the kelly green uniforms. I’m fine with them as an alternate - partly because I don’t really like the black jerseys - but everyone who wants them to switch back full time needs to slow their roll a bit.

First off, kelly green is the Jets’ color. Why the hell would you want to look like the Jets?

Second, I don’t think these uniforms even look that good. The pants should be a deep silver, because these come off as more of a light grey which looks cheap. (That’s one of the reasons I don’t like the Phillies’ cream uniforms; I think they look lower quality.) And what’s with the angled seam on the front and the whole collar situation?

I understand the nostalgia factor, but this is nostalgia for a time when the team wasn’t especially good! Do people really hold the Buddy Ryan/Rich Kotite era - and it’s one total playoff win - that high of esteem?

Closing thought

In July 2022, the Phillies were coming off a dreadful series against the Cubs and headed to Miami. I expected disaster, and instead, the Phillies pulled off a three-game sweep. Do I expect the same to happen this week? No. But the Phillies have proven incredibly difficult to predict so it wouldn’t completely shock me if they did play their best series of the season.

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