After a 3-game sweep at the hands of the NY Mets the Phils (71-84) head south to take on the Miami Marlins (57-99). After naming Ryne Sandberg their manager for the next three years the Phils went out and played some bad OF defense, and showed the home fans one more time their season-long inability to drive home runners in scoring position. Cliff Lee deserved a better fate and will have one more chance later this week against the Braves to get his 15th win. The Marlins have won just three of their last 15 games, as their nightmare of a season is about to come to a close. After the Phils leave town the Marlins will host defending the AL Champion Tigers in their final four games.
Roy Halladay 4-4, 6.50 ERA faces Nathan Eovaldi 3-6, 3.79 in the series opener. The 23-year old right-handed Eovaldi enters the game 1-1 with a ND in his last three starts. His last start came against the Phils on Wednesday at CBP where his line was 5 IP, 4 H, 3R, 2ER, 4BB’s and 5 SO’s. He wasn’t involved in the decision, a game the Marlins won 4-3. In five starts since coming off the DL Halladay has gone 2-0 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.427 ERA. Halladay is trying to reinvent himself to become a finesse pitcher. The results are a mixed bag, but it’s obvious Doc isn’t close to the pitcher he once was. The once dominant fastball is gone and the man who led the lead in SO/BB ratio four years in a row (2008-11), has more walks than strikeouts in his comeback. While Doc hasn’t been spanked in any of his outings his main issue appears to be control. In 27.1 innings he’s allowed 17 BB’s and six hit batters.
In Tuesday’s game the Phils attempt to get through nine innings again using their bullpen. Starting the run of relievers will be Zach Miner 0-1, 3.22 ERA against another fresh-faced 23-year old Marlin righty, Henderson Alvarez. Alvarez was obtained from the Blue Jays last November when the Marlins decided to do a massive salary dump. He’s become a mainstay in the Marlins rotation since July 4th after returning from an injury-plagued first half. In four starts this month Alverez is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA and a respectable 1.318 WHIP. Alvarez relies heavily on his 4-seam fastball which averages 92-94 mph, and touches as high as 97 on the gun. He throws the 4-seamer over 60% of the time and mixes in a 2-seam fastball to induce a little more break. His slider is considered average and still needs work, while his changeup is a plus pitch for him. Miner is making his second straight start for the recently sidelined Kyle Kendrick. In his last start against the Marlins last week Miner went three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks.
Wednesday’s game features a match up of lefty’s as the Phils Cole Hamels 8-14, 3.62 takes on Brad Hand 1-1, 3.14. Hand’s only victory this year came in relief against the Phils back on September 18th where he pitched the 9th inning of a 4-3 Marlin win. Hand will be the 3rd 23-year old the Marlins send to the hill in this series. The Phils will counter with Cole Hamels who’s seeking his 100th career victory for the 2nd time. His last start against the Mets was Hamels worst outing since May 31st against the Milwaukee Brewers, but even with that poor showing he’s been one of baseball’s best 2nd half pitchers this year.
The Phils are playing their last week with very few teams goals to accomplish. One goal they’d like to attain is to finish .500 or better in manager Ryne Sandberg’s time as manager. Currently Ryno’s record stands at 18-17. After this three-game series the Phils travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves, who clinched the division over the weekend. When the season started the Phils had hoped this would be a meaningful series against the Braves. All they have to play for now is personal pride and the opportunity to knock the Braves out of the number one playoff seed. They had hoped for a lot more than that when they broke camp six months ago.