Apr 10, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo homer against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Miami Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies (April 11-13)

The Miami Marlins got off to a hot 5-1 start against two lower tier National League teams in the season’s first week. Since they improved their record to 5-1 on another Jose Fernandez pitching gem, the Marlins have lost four in a row. That includes being swept by the Washington Nationals this week. In order to turn things around, the Marlins will have to clean up their defense.

Weather:

The Friday forecast predicts a 60% chance of rain around first pitch, with the chances of rain increasing to 80% at 8. It will be interesting to see what kind of effect the rain could have on the game (hopefully no rain delays). The good news is that Saturday and Sunday look to be rain-free days, with the high reaching the high-70’s on Sunday.

Broadcast:

Fox Sports Florida will broadcast all three games on TV, giving a chance for Marlins fans to see two of their top pitchers throwing. Of course all three games will be broadcast on the radio dial by tuning into AM 940 WINZ. Glenn Geffner is one of the best in the business and will be sure to bring you a great call of the game.

Pitching Match-ups:

Friday, April 11th
Marlins – Jose Fernadez (2-0, 12.2 IP, 0.71 ERA, 17 SO)
Phillies- A.J. Burnett (0-1, 11.2 IP,  3.86 ERA, 6 SO)

Saturday, April 12th
Marlins – Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 13.0 IP, 3.46 ERA, 14 SO)
Phillies- Jonathan Pettibone (N/A)

Sunday, April 13th
Marlins – Henderson Alvarez (0-2, 8.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 5 SO)
Phillies- Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 12 IP,  3.75 ERA, 7 SO)

Storylines:

Both teams enter the series on four-game losing streaks coming into this series. In fact, both the Phillies and Marlins were above .500 before their current slides. The Marlins come into the series in third place in the NL East, at 5-5. The Phillies enter the series at 3-6, in the Marlins vacated basement spot from a year ago.

The Marlins will turn to the guy that got them their last victory in Jose Fernandez to jumpstart the team again. He’ll face a familar face for Marlins fans in A.J. Burnett. This is the best pitching matchup of the series, as the Marlins are lucky enough to miss Cliff Lee this series.

Chase Utley has been on fire to start the season, posting a .579 wOBA early on. Utley already has two home runs on the season and could be a thorn in the side for the Marlins pitchers going this series. On the other spectrum, despite a BABIP of .316, Ryan Howard is hitting just .212 this season and striking out over 30% of his plate appearances.

Predictions:

The Marlins have the perfect matchup to turn their recent woes around. The team sends their ace to the mound against the offense that no longer instills much fear into it’s opponents hearts. While Utley continues to be a beast when healthy, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins continue to show signs of decline.

The Marlins should win the first  two games of the series handily, behind Fernandez and Eovaldi. A chance at a sweep will likely come down to the Marlins defense coming through behind Henderson Alvarez. Because of the struggles of the defense early on, I don’t like the Marlins chances of winning this series.

Playing their first series in a smaller ballpark, it will be interesting to see the power display that Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Derek Dietrich could put up.

If I could attend one game this series, I’d definitely choose the Fernandez-Burnett matchup on Friday. Fernandez has been pitching as well as he has been in his major league career and watching Burnett pitch has always been something I have enjoyed, dating back to his days as a Marlin.

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Tags: A.J. Burnett Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins

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