It hasn’t been an ideal start for the Philadelphia Phillies but perhaps that is starting to change heading into Sunday’s finale of a four-game series against the host Miami Marlins.
Prior to Saturday’s 10-3 win over Miami, the Phillies had lost four straight games.
Now, coming off Saturday’s 11-hit outburst, there is renewed confidence.
“We’re too good not to get going,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said after Saturday’s win. “I really believe we’re going to hit.”
Philadelphia will turn to right-hander Zack Wheeler (0-1, 1.93 ERA) to make the start on Sunday.
Wheeler led the National League last year with 247 strikeouts and finished second in the Cy Young voting. Not since Curt Schilling in 1998 had a Phillies pitcher led the league in strikeouts.
After going 14-10 with a 2.78 ERA last year, Wheeler is the pitcher the Phillies rely on to get them on track.
In 17 career starts against the Marlins, Wheeler sports a 9-3 record with a 1.97 ERA.
Miami will counter with right-hander Elieser Hernandez (0-1, 7.71 ERA).
In five years in the majors, Hernandez is 7-16 with a 4.73 ERA. He has made 71 appearances and 38 starts, and he has yet to win more than three games in a season.
It seems like Hernandez is just holding a rotation spot until top rookie prospect Max Meyer gets called up, which could be any day now.
However, Hernandez could have a good game on Sunday, based on his past performances against the Phillies. In six career appearances versus Philadelphia — including four starts — Hernandez is 3-0 with a 4.24 ERA.
In addition, his career home ERA (3.70) is a two-run-plus improvement over his mark on the road (5.90).
Offensively, the Marlins are encouraged by what they have seen from youthful center fielder Jesus Sanchez.
He entered this season with just 74 games played in parts of two seasons. In those 252 at-bats, Sanchez showed flashes — such as his 14 homers and .489 slugging percentage last year. But he also struck out 89 times in his career.
This season, Sanchez has slugged five extra-base hits in seven games, including two homers and two triples.
Marlins third baseman Joey Wendle, who turns 32 later this month, remembers Sanchez when they were both part of the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
“He’s good, and he can swing,” Wendle said.
Marlins bench coach James Rowson said Sanchez is learning how pitchers are trying to attack him. After that, Sanchez makes adjustments.
“He’s got great confidence,” Rowson said. “He’s got a good eye at the plate. He can drive the ball with power to all field.
“The more he plays, the better he will continue to be.”
The Marlins on Sunday may be without first baseman Garrett Cooper, who sustained a left-elbow contusion on Saturday after colliding with teammate Jon Berti during a botched rundown that ended with Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper stealing home.
“He is a little sore, a little scared,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Cooper. “That is the elbow he had surgery on last year.”
–Field Level Media