Not only were the Miami Marlins questioned for some of the moves they made at the trade deadline yesterday, but they would also blow a lead in the 9th inning to a team they are competing with in the NL Wild Card race. In a series where they needed to come up big, the Marlins have dropped the ball, but the silver lining is they can still split the series by winning their next two games. After looking at tonight’s matchup, I’ll break down which side of the run first-inning market I’ll be backing.
First impressions go a long way in life, and the game of baseball, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. For David Robertson and the Marlins, it’s a bad thing after last night’s loss. In his second appearance since being acquired by Miami for two prospects, the reliever would blow a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning by allowing three earned runs. Sandy Alcantara kept the Phillies off the board with eight brilliant innings of work, but ultimately Philadelphia would gain a game on Miami from the blown save.
In need of salvaging the series with two games remaining, the Marlins will turn to left-hander Braxton Garrett to make his 21st start of the season. After four lackluster outings in a row, the lefty would get back on track in his most recent start against the Tigers by throwing six innings and allowing one unearned run in the no-decision. Following that start, Garrett is now sporting a 4.08 ERA in 106 innings of work.
The Phillies team that Garrett will face tonight has created most of their offense in the latter innings of both games in this series. Philadelphia would wait until the ninth inning to show any signs of life at the plate yesterday when a Bryce Harper RBI double would tie the game. To ensure they didn’t need extra innings, Nick Castellanos would leave the yard for a two-run home run to secure the victory.
With the Phillies still sitting 1.5 games back of the Marlins in the Wild Card, securing a series victory with a win tonight would go a long way. To do so, Philadelphia will need a strong start from Zack Wheeler. The right-hander has been dominant over his last two starts, allowing just two earned runs and striking out 19 over his last 13.2 innings.
The NRFI for this exciting divisional game is currently priced at (-134), and I’ll be taking it as my play in this one. Miami has the highest NRFI success rate in the MLB this season, and offense has been hard to come by in this series. With both pitchers having success at keeping teams off the board early this season, I think we see another slow offensive start to the game like we did last night.
In 21 first innings this season, Zack Wheeler has pitched to a 2.14 ERA, and he is currently in the 87th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 64th percentile in expected batting average, and a 2.25 FIP the first time through the order. All of those things point to Wheeler being a tough matchup early for a Marlins team that averages the third-fewest runs scored per game in the first inning.
On the other side, Braxton Garrett has a 3.15 first-inning ERA across 20 innings. The lefty has been strong early in games this season which is evident by his 2.76 xFIP the first time through the order. It also helps the Phillies rank 17th in wRC+ and 16th in OPS against left-handed pitching on the road over the past month.
No Run First Inning (-134)