While it seems like the Atlanta Braves are well on their way to winning the NL East, there is still a battle between the Phillies and Marlins as they compete for the Wild Card. With both teams entering this series with exactly 49 losses, this series holds heavy importance for both clubs. We’ll preview the opening game before going over which side I’ll be backing for my play.
The top of the NL Wild Card is a tight race, and over the past ten games, neither the Marlins nor Phillies have done anything to separate themselves, as they both went 4-6. However, Miami will enter this series with a bit more momentum, as they secured a series win over the Tigers yesterday with an 8-6 win. Miami didn’t get the usual strong start from Jesus Luzardo they have come to expect, but home runs by Garrett Cooper and Jean Segura helped secure the victory anyways.
With a big series set to begin tonight, the Marlins will turn to another young arm in Edward Cabrera to get them started on the right note. The right-hander got the early hook in his most recent outing against the Rays, as he was pulled after just two innings after allowing three earned runs. Overall, Cabrera is pitching to a 4.74 ERA in 74 innings with 90 strikeouts and 46 walks.
Cabrera will take on a Phillies team tonight that went from winning three straight games to losing two straight to the Pirates, resulting in a series loss. Philadelphia got a strong start from Cristopher Sanchez, but after he was pulled following the fifth inning, the Phillies used six relievers and lost in extra innings 6-4. A mix of a questionable decision not to tag up from third by Bryce Harper late in the game and a bullpen collapse led to a bad series loss for Philadelphia.
As the team looks to get back on track, the Phillies will send Taijuan Walker to the mound for his 22nd start. The big right-hander has racked up 113 innings for Philadelphia this season, in which he’s pitched to a 4.06 ERA. Walker took a no-decision his last time on the mound, allowing two earned runs in 5.2 innings of work.
The Miami Marlins are currently priced at (-110) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Miami has produced strong numbers when playing in their home ballpark, and now they get to face a starter that has struggled mightily on the road this season. With an advantage on the mound and at the plate, I think Miami opens this pivotal series with a win.
Over the last month, the Marlins are hitting .282 against right-handed pitching at home, which has them ranked 14th in wRC+ and 13th in OPS in that split. Their matchup tonight, Taijuan Walker, is currently sporting a 5.25 road ERA with a batting average against of .274. Walker’s 4.68 FIP on the road will not do the job against this Marlins offense.
Meanwhile, Edward Cabrera is currently in the 89th percentile in expected batting average, 77th percentile in expected slugging percentage, and has a 2.61 ERA at home this season. Cabrera has proven to excel on his home mound, which does not bode well for a Phillies lineup that ranks 29th in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road over the last month.
Miami Marlins (-110)