The final game of today will be the Miami Marlins heading to the City of Brotherly Love to face the Phillies at 8:00 ET. Philadelphia is coming off a magical run last season, which they couldn't quite finish with a World Series Championship. The Marlins look to dethrone the defending National League champs. Miami has surprised some people before. They have never won the NL East but still have two titles to show for it. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia franchise has been around 110 years longer than Miami and also has two rings. Let's see what will take place in this National League Wildcard Series.
NL Wildcard Series: #5 Miami Marlins vs. #4 Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies got here by mashing the ball. They finished fourth in the NL in runs scored, while the Marlins finished last. Regarding OPS, the Phillies finished third at .765, while Miami finished 11th at .722. The Phillies also allowed fewer runs this season, surpassing the Marlins in ERA (4.02-4.22).
Luis Arraez led the league with a .354 average, and Jazz Chisolm would have flirted with 30-30 had he not missed 65 games this season. Add to that Jorge Soler, who blasted 36 homers, and you have the crux of what the Marlins do offensively. Jon Berti decided to put his hitting shoes on for the final month of the season slashing .389/.508/.685 with four bombs, three swipes, and more walks than strikeouts.
Philadelphia has the usual suspects that got them to the World Series last season. Trea Turner is one guy who was added to the squad of regulars. He was awful, and that contract looked like an albatross waiting to happen over the year's first four months. As of August 3rd, he was slashing .235/.290/.368. Since then, the shortstop sports a line of .337/.389/.668. He also set a record, becoming the first player ever to steal 30 bases in a season without being caught. Brandon Marsh, Nick Castellanos, and Alec Bohm were all better than last season.
Losing Sandy Alcantara hurt the Marlins. They overcame the loss enough with Edward Cabrera and Eury Perez. Perez is injured, so the Marlins will go with Jesus Luzardo in Game One and Braxton Garrett in Game Two. Both have been solid, but Edward Cabrera in Game Three if necessary is a little worrisome. The Phillies are slightly above average in walks, and Cabrera hands them out like candy, giving 66 free passes in 99 innings this year.
The Phillies have a solid one-two punch in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. They both finished with 200+ strikeouts. They have had mixed results against the Marlins this season as Wheeler has been good, but Nola has gotten hit around by the fish, allowing 12 earned runs in 16 innings despite an 18/0 K/BB rate. If needed, Taijuan Walker and/or Ranger Suarez will go to Game Three.
AJ Puk was removed from the closer role and has not responded well, allowing runs in half of his outings in September. However, Tanner Scott, his fellow lefty, has been excellent since taking over the closing duties, coughing up just three earned runs in 14 September appearances. Andrew Nardi is another left-hander for Skip Schumaker, as he has given up runs in just two of his last 17 outings. The Marlins are very left-handed out of the bullpen, which could be to their detriment.
The Phillies have been better than expected, as their bullpen was seen as a problem entering the season. Craig Kimbrel has been good, and Jose Alvarado is back in the mix. Jeff Hoffman has given up runs in just one of his last 14 appearances. It also appears that Orion Kerkering will get a shot, as he was added to the major league roster just over a week ago and is on the playoff roster as well.
This series is the most lopsided of the four in the first round. The Phillies are better, on paper, at every aspect of the game. Of course, you never know how things will pan out, as one team could just get timely hitting and enough pitching at the right time (see Phillies 2022). If you are a betting person though, it is unwise to think the Marlins might have that magic in them like they did in 1997 and 2003. Go with the Phillies in two.
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