The Philadelphia Phillies, who have won 12 of their past 16 games, and the host Miami Marlins will start a rare seven-day series on Thursday night.
It’s the first such series in Marlins history. Miami also made unfortunate history on Wednesday night with the most lopsided loss ever for the franchise, a 29-9 whipping administered by the Atlanta Braves.
Meanwhile, for the Phillies, this will be their first seven-game series in 90 years.
The Phillies (21-18) are two games behind the Braves in the National League East, with the Marlins (19-19) trailing Philadelphia by 1 1/2 games.
Philadelphia will start veteran right-hander and 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta (3-4, 5.67 ERA). Miami will start right-hander and 2019 All-Star Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 3.78 ERA).
The Phillies will play four doubleheaders in the next 13 days, including this Friday and Sunday, but that doesn’t seem to faze manager Joe Girardi.
“We have enough pitching to handle it,” Girardi said.
It will certainly help the Phillies if Arrieta can pitch deep into Thursday’s game so that Girardi can save his beleaguered bullpen. And, given his past two starts, it’s hard to say what the Phillies will get from Arrieta.
On Aug. 30, Arrieta lasted just 1 1/3 innings against the Braves, allowing seven runs in the worst start of his career. However, he bounced back in his next start, this past Friday, pitching a season-high seven innings against the New York Mets, allowing two runs and one walk. He also struck out a season-high seven batters.
This will be Arrieta’s first start this season against the Marlins. But he has a stellar history at spacious Marlins Park, going 6-1 in seven starts with a 3.40 ERA. Overall, Arrieta is 8-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts against the Marlins.
Arrieta will be backed by a Phillies offense that is fourth in the majors in runs scored per game (5.31).
Some of the big names in Philadelphia’s offense are first baseman Rhys Hoskins (9 homers, .940 OPS); right fielder Bryce Harper (7 homers, .907 OPS); and catcher J.T. Realmuto (team-highs 10 homers and 27 RBIs, .869 OPS).
Miami’s offense, meanwhile, is ranked 23rd in runs scored (4.32) and 26th in homers.
Still, the Marlins are 2-1 against the Phillies this season. On Opening Day, Alcantara beat the Phillies, 5-2, on July 24. Alcantara allowed just three hits, two walks and two runs, one earned. He also struck out seven Phillies batters in 6.2 innings.
“It felt awesome to be out there,” said Alcantara, who allowed a homer to Didi Gregorius.
Just prior to that game, however, the Marlins placed former Phillies starting catcher Jorge Alfaro on the injured list for what at the time was called “an undisclosed ailment.”
Later, it was revealed that Alfaro and, ironically, Alcantara were among 18 Marlins players who tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in a string of postponements. Alcantara didn’t pitch again until Aug. 30. Alfaro didn’t make his season debut until Aug. 21.
Alcantara’s return could be bad news for the Phillies. The 25-year-old has certainly been a load for the Phillies in his brief MLB career, posting a 4-1 record with a 2.51 ERA in five starts.
Oddly, though, Alcantara has been better on the road (3.44 ERA in 26 appearances) than he has been at Marlins Park (4.26 ERA in 23 games).
The Phillies are just 6-8 on the road this year, but the Marlins are just 2-9 at home.
One more factor: The Phillies have the majors’ worst bullpen this season with a 7.24 ERA. But Marlins relievers allowed 22 runs (20 earned) in 6 1/3 innings on Wednesday. Miami’s bullpen ERA spiked from 4.29 to 5.27 after Wednesday’s blowout at Atlanta.
–Field Level Media