The Marlins will send Caleb Smith and his undefeated record to the mound on Thursday when Miami faces NL East rival Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park.
After splitting two games with the Cleveland Indians, the Marlins come back to familiar surroundings in the National League East against the Phillies and Aaron Nola. If Miami is going to try and make some kind of advance in the division, this would be a great place to start.
Smith has been one of the better pitchers in the National League this year and could become a Cy Young candidate with some continued power pitching and some luck from a lineup that is all but stagnant of clutch hitting.
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As Kevin Kraczkowski of Marlin Maniac wrote yesterday, the short series against the Indians was the first of two sets on the road.
"“Sandy Alcantara started for the Miami Marlins, and pitched well enough to keep them in it,” he wrote. “He walked four and allowed four hits, but only two crossed the plate over his five innings of work. He put 48-of-84 in the strike zone to earn no-decision.”"
With the many issues the Marlins have had this season, Smith’s performance on the mound has not been one of them. At 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 20 innings of work, he has been as close to a sure thing as the Marlins staff has had in some time. Smith, who is the team’s No. 5 starter, has shown the consistency the front office has wanted from its starters this season.
Nola has had his own issues despite a 2-0 record this season. He has a 6.84 ERA but also has struck out 28 batters this season. If both pitchers can get a quality start today, this could be a duel that comes down to a late inning push by either team.
The Marlins must decide if the team is going to insert Lewis Brinson back in the lineup, or will he sit while trying to break out of his hitting slump.
"Per Kraczkowski, “Brinson has struck out 24 times in 71 plate appearances in 2019, just over a third of the time, while hitting .179/.225/.239. This is right on par with his career numbers. Brinson has struck out 161 times in 532 career plate appearances while hitting .188/.237/.319 over parts of three major leagues seasons. Compounding his substandard career figures, Brinson is one-for-27 over the past two weeks, with two walks and 16 strikeouts.”"