Three Strikes: Miami Marlins vs Philadelphia Phillies

You probably never thought you’d be so jacked up the Marlins went 10-12 in April.  But when you go 7-1 after a 3-11 start, that’s what you get.  Miami will look to continue their new found winning ways against the team they used to jump start themselves in the first place- the Philadelphia Phillies.  So will the Marlins follow up their roller coaster defeat of the first place Mets and reel in their fourth consecutive NL East series win?  Or will the Fightin’ Phills claim revenge? Let’s take a look.

Why Miami Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Offense.  If you put a blindfold on and threw a dart at the chart of 2015 team batting stats, you’d hit a category Philadelphia was terrible at.  You’d also bear a striking resemblance to Phillies hitters judging by these figures, seeing as how they’re batting .223 and are last in the majors in runs scored.  Miami however is third in the Senior Circuit in runs scored, and has morphed into an MLB top 10 offensive squad these past couple weeks.
  • Strike 2- Defense.  Will keep hammering on this point as long as it keeps up.  But with 22 games under their belt, the best fielding team in baseball continues to be the Miami Marlins.  The best that can be said of Philadelphia is that they’ve widened their lead over the cellar dwelling Nationals in defensive blunders, but still have 19 errors already.  If you don’t think that can make a difference, you didn’t see those five unearned runs Philly spotted Miami on April 22nd.
  • Strike 3- The top of the order.  Last time around in Philadelphia, Martin Prado provided new lift to the offense by slotting himself into the No. 2 hole in the lineup, hitting.384 with 5 RBIs in the series.  That effort picked up the slack for a slightly scuffling Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton; Gordon came in slumping and hit. 200 in those three games, and Stanton (while homering twice) was only a couple hits better at .250.  Both are in much better shape coming into this series, with Stanton riding a five-game streak and Gordon leading the league in every hitting category. And splitting the difference between them is Prado- a veteran hitter who they’ve yet to figure out.

Why The Philies Win The Series

  • Strike 1- It’s A Trap.  Really have to start with this.  I have no awesome, well researched stats to give you beyond the very scientific question of asking you to consider a time since 2003 Miami hasn’t blown a series against a terrible opponent to throw a bucket of cold water on a hot streak.  The Marlins just went 5-1 against their top division opposition.  After this weekend series, they get to go on a fun-filled ten game road trip against three 2014 playoff teams, during which they project to square off against seven consecutive pitchers that have either made an All-Star team, won a Cy Young Award, or both.  It would be very easy to overlook Philadelphia.  Scary easy.
  • Strike 2- Pitching.  Yes, Miami’s starting rotation has put up quite the impressive string of quality efforts of late.  But if you take a closer look at the matchups here, there is reason for concern. Philly will once again trot out Jerome Williams and Cole Hamels to start the series off, both of whom notched a QS of their own against the Marlins last week.  Both followed those outings up with even more impressive starts their next time out.  The Marlins counter with a Tom Koehler that has a career ERA of 4.13 against the Phillies, and a Dan Haren that got knocked around by this same Phillies lineup in Miami’s one loss to them April 21st; Haren also sports a forgettable career line against them, winning once in 11 starts. Bottom line is Miami will hold a clear-cut advantage on the mound just once in the series when Cosart closes it out against Sean O’Sullivan.
  • Strike 3- Ryan Howard.  Anyone else concerned he can suddenly hit home runs again?  Since crushing his first of the year of Dan Haren last week- whom he does get to face again in the series- Howard has popped off three more since.  A lifetime .295 hitter against the Marlins, he has hit thirty-eight homers against Miami in his career.  Certainly seems worth spelling out and italicizing to me.  All three Fish starters have shown at least a slight proclivity- and in Haren’s case a frightening frequency- to give up the long ball so far.  If he gets to swing, he could connect just enough to break some hearts.  If he get’s pitched around, then he’s likely on base for Freddy Galvis- who’s hitting .355.  Walks can be just as deadly- and Howard has done it 98 times against the Fish.
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