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Phillies at Marlins series preview: 9/10- 9/14

Much is being made of the Phillies' upcoming seven-game series at Miami.  A potentially season-defining weekend that will feature two separate double-headers pit the Phils (21-18) against their pesky division rival, the germ sharing Marlins (19-19).

The teams will meet for a lengthy series due to both clubs missing considerable time after the Marlins dealt with a coronavirus outbreak when the season got underway in July and the Phillies were the last team they faced.  

If the Phillies can't secure a series win against a Marlins team that is in the midst of a rebuild, media types and baseball fans alike have been critical in stating that the big-budget Phils (2020 team salary was slated to be 6th highest in the big leagues while Miami was set to be fourth lowest) likely won't have a place in the postseason.  

Read ahead for a rundown of the pitching match ups as well as some key statistics from this series. 

Thursday, 6:40pm.  Jake Arrieta (3-4, 5.67 ERA) vs. Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 3.78 ERA).  In four road starts this year, Arrieta has a 2-2 record with a 4.22 ERA.  In 11 career starts against the Marlins, Arrieta sports an 8-1 record with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.  Corey Dickerson is 6-for-14 (.429 avg) in his career when facing Arrieta.  The righty, Alcantara, turned 25 years old over the weekend.  In five career starts against the Phils, Alcantara has a 4-1 record with a 2.51 ERA.  Alcantara missed roughly a month of the season following a positive COVID-19 test in July.

Friday, double header with game 1 slated for 5:10pm.  Rookie right-hander Spencer Howard is expected to pitch in one of these games.  It's unclear which hurler would start the other contest for the Phillies.  Howard holds a 1-2 record with a 5.66 ERA in five big league starts this year.  The 24-year-old was the Phils' 2nd round draft selection in 2017.  Aaron Nola last pitched on Sunday the 6th...throwing on Friday would be his turn on normal rest.  On the season, Nola has a 4-3 record with a 2.74 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.  Nola is 3-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 14 career starts against the Marlins. 

Saturday, 6:10pm.  Zack Wheeler (4-0, 2.47 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (0-0, 5.40 ERA).  Wheeler, a 30-year-old righty, has no decisions with a 3.46 ERA in a pair of road starts this year.  In 15 career starts against Miami, Wheeler has posted an 8-3 record with a 1.87 ERA.  Urena has made just one start this season after missing time due to COVID-19.  Saturday will mark Urena's 29th birthday.  Urena has a 4.38 ERA in 68 career appearances at Marlins Park.  In 17 career appearances (12 starts) against the Phillies, Urena sports a 3-5 record with a 4.27 ERA.  

Sunday, double header with game 1 slated for 1:10pm.  Tentative starters for game 1...Zach Eflin (2-1, 4.58 ERA) vs. Sixto Sanchez (2-1, 1.80 ERA).  Eflin has a 6.33 ERA in five career starts at Marlins Park.  In nine starts against the Marlins, Eflin sports a 5-2 record with a 4.19 ERA.  Sanchez, a former Phillies prospect that was dealt to Miami in the swap for JT Realmuto, has been one of baseball's most exciting rookie performers.  Through four starts, Sanchez has a 2-1 record with a 1.80 ERA and has struck out 25 and walked just two over 25 innings.  He also sports triple-digit velocity numbers with his fastball. 

Monday, 4:10pm.  Righty Vince Velasquez may be tabbed to take this start for the Phillies.  In his last appearance, Velasquez struck out nine, walked none and allowed two earned runs in five innings against the Red Sox.  Velasquez has a 6.10 ERA in seven career games against the Marlins.

Since August 22nd when Bryce Harper last homered, he's 7-for-49 (.143 avg) in 15 games.  In 134 games against Miami, Harper sports a .292 average with 29 home runs and 95 RBI.  

In 26 career games at Marlins Park Andrew McCutchen is a .340 hitter with five homers and 21 RBI.  

Didi Gregorius has a .293/.384/.547 slash line in 21 career games against the Marlins.  

Former Phils lefty pitching prospect Brandon Leibrandt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, signed with the Marlins this season and is once again sidelined with an elbow issue, described as ulnar neuritis.  The 6th round pick from 2014 appeared in five games with the Marlins.  

Catcher Jorge Alfaro is batting .180 with a home run and four RBI in 16 games this season for Miami.  Alfaro is a .462 career hitter in 10 games against the Phils.

The Phillies' .785 team OPS ranks 7th best in MLB.  The Marlins, at .700, ranked 24th heading into action on Wednesday.

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