May 21, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) forces out Miami Marlins second baseman Ed Lucas (59) at second base during the sixth inning at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins (July 1-3)


Lack of starting pitching depth with Jose Fernandez on the shelf has finally caught up with the Miami Marlins. The team which surprisingly found themselves right in the thick of the National League East race has dropped four straight games and is seven of their last ten, while relying on the contributions from highly-touted prospects Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani to take them deep into ballgames.

Just about every hitter not named Giancarlo Stanton has also cooled off in recent weeks. We knew the Marlins wouldn’t hit all season the way they did over the first couple months of 2014, but the spike in production has been jarring. Some of it can be attributed to rough timing; the Oakland Athletics, the best team in baseball just paid a visit to Marlins Park and swept the three game series.

The Fish haven’t won a series since sweeping all four games against the Tampa Bay Rays from June 2-5. But July is upon us, which means a new month and a chance for the Marlins to put their dismal 11-16 June behind them. The Philadelphia Phillies are in town to commence a three-game mid-week series. These NL East division foes just squared off at Citizens Bank Park last week where they split a four-game set.

Pitching Matchups:

Tuesday, July 1 – 7:10 PM EDT
Phillies: A.J. Burnett (5-7, 3.89 ERA)
Marlins: Henderson Alvarez (5-3, 2.32 ERA)

Wednesday, July 2 – 7:10 PM EDT
Phillies: Cole Hamels (2-4, 2.84 ERA)
Marlins: Tom Koehler (5-6, 3.70 ERA)

Thursday, July 3 – 6:10 PM EDT
Phillies: Kyle Kendrick (3-8, 4.22 ERA)
Marlins: TBA

Breakdown:

The Phillies are ten games below .500 and firmly planted in the NL East basement. Still though, they always seem to give the Marlins trouble and have always played well at Marlins Park. The good news is that while the Marlins are 3-7 in their last ten contests, the Phillies are 2-8 in theirs. Both teams are currently suffering four game losing streaks, so something has to give on Tuesday night.

The Marlins finally got Christian Yelich back on Sunday and he tripled in his first plate appearance since being reinstated from the DL. The addition of Yelich should help ignite a Marlins offense which has averaged 3.6 runs over its last ten games. Miami also has the luxury of missing Cliff Lee, who is on the DL with an elbow injury, and should be able to plate some runs against this trio of Phillies arms.

Prediction:

I am going to say the Marlins finally get off the schneid and win their first series in almost a month. They were very close to winning three of four in Philadelphia — a feat the Marlins have never accomplished — but dropped a 14-inning heartbreaker on Thursday night thanks to Chase Utley‘s walkoff two-run homer in the series finale. I see the Marlins taking two of these games. Alvarez will put up zeroes tonight and edge the former Marlin Burnett in a pitchers’ duel with something like a 4-2 final score.

Tomorrow night, I see Tom Koehler scuffling as he has recently and the Phillies evening the series on a strong start by Hamels. The new-look Marlins bullpen has been good, but very taxed in recent weeks, and tomorrow night will be yet another example of this trend.

Finally, note the odd start time for Thursday’s game: 6:10 PM? Weird. The Marlins also haven’t made official who will be starting that game. Thanks to the off day on Monday it could be Nathan Eovaldi, who last pitched on Saturday. Or they could likely call someone up from New Orleans for a spot start.

This will be a critical series for the Marlins if they are serious about remaining in contention. After they wrap up this set with the Phillies the Fish hit the road for a pivotal nine-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Mets. So, let’s hope they can end the homestand on a positive note. Let’s go Fish!

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