Usually the months of August and September are expected to feature series where the Phillies are in a battle for first place. Instead, they enter their three-game series with the Marlins in a battle to get out of last place.
In each of the past three days, the Phillies and Miami Marlins have traded places in the standings with the Phillies winning two of three from the Cardinals this weekend and the Marlins losing two of three to the Dodgers.
The Marlins have sold out on the season, making several trades at the deadline that sent familiar faces like Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante elsewhere.
But, the Marlins still have the powerful Giancarlo Stanton. There is also Greg Dobbs, Emilio Bonifacio and Logan Morrison, who have been fixtures of the Marlins roster for some time now.
Jose Reyes, one of the newest Marlin players, is fresh off a 26-game hitting streak that ended last week in New York.
This series could take on several meanings. The Phillies could push completely out of the last-place picture and be right on the heels of the Mets for third place with a series win or sweep. The Marlins could put the Phillies back in last place by a decent margin with a series win or sweep of their own.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series.
In the opener, Cole Hamels (12-6, 3.08 ERA) goes against Nathan Eovaldi (3-7, 4.33 ERA) - Hamels pitched a complete-game, five-hit shutout against the Braves his last time out. It was his first win since July 15. In his career against the Marlins (22 starts), Hamels is 6-10 with a 3.68 ERA.
Eovaldi threw five shutout innings against the Mets in his last start, getting his third win of the season and second with the Marlins. He faced the Phillies while with the Dodgers, allowing three runs over five innings in a 3-2 Phillies’ win. This will be Eovaldi’s second start against the Phillies.
In the middle game, Kyle Kendrick (4-9, 4.86 ERA) faces Josh Johnson (7-8, 3.88 ERA) - Kendrick was roughed up by the Braves in a 12-6 Phillies loss. Kendrick allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings, but would take a no-decision after the Phillies rallied back to tie the game before eventually losing. Kendrick’s last win came out of the bullpen on July 22. His last win as a starter came on June 1 against the Marlins. In his career against the Marlins (17 games, 12 starts), Kendrick is 8-2 with a 4.31 ERA.
Johnson has struggled for much of the season, never quite finding the rhythm he has in past seasons. He lost his last start to the Mets allowing three runs over six innings, dropping to 7-8 on the season. However, Johnson has allowed three runs or less in each of his last four starts. In his career against the Phillies (16 games, 14 starts), Johnson is 6-4 with a 3.53 ERA.
In the finale, Roy Halladay (6-6, 3.80 ERA) gets the start against Mark Buehrle (9-11, 3.80 ERA) - Halladay was dominant in his last start, throwing eight innings of two-hit ball, allowing one run in a win over the Cardinals. It is Halladay’s first time posting wins in back-to-back starts since he won his first three starts of the season. In his career against the Marlins (11 starts), Halladay is 5-3 with a 2.40 ERA.
Buehrle continues to be in a bit of a slump, as he lost his last start to the Dodgers allowing four runs in six innings. Buehrle has allowed at least four runs in four of his last five starts and has not won since July 14. In his career against the Phillies (six starts), Buehrle is 4-2 with a 4.76 ERA.
August 13 – Phillies 5, Marlins 2
August 14 – Phillies 1, Marlins 6
August 15 – Phillies 4, Marlins 1
The Phillies are in great position with Hamels and Halladay both making starts in this series against relievers who have struggled of late. The Phillies will face a tough task in facing Josh Johnson while sending Kyle Kendrick to the mound, but ultimately, the Phillies have the arms to win two of three easily.
Obviously, Hamels and Halladay need to pitch like they did in their last starts for that to happen. But with both coming off of trying times in their season, they appear ready to rebound from quite a bit of adversity and hardship to put together a nice personal winning streak.
Meanwhile, the bats play a role as well. Can they hit these pitchers who have silenced them before? Can they give two of their best starters a lead to work with? It all remains to be seen, but playing with the lead will be important.
Overall, the Phillies have the advantage in this series because they didn’t sell as much at the deadline. The Marlins are a much weaker team than the last time the Phillies saw them. They need to take advantage of that if they want to try to make a run at third place in the division and a .500 record.