Playoff Time: Breakdown Wild Card Matchups (Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins)
The 2023 MLB Playoffs are set to kick off tomorrow night with the Wild Card Round.
Well, while the Nationals are sitting on the sidelines once again this postseason, the 2023 MLB playoffs are set to kick off tomorrow night with the Wild Card Round. There are some really interesting matchups on the NL and the AL side.
NL Wild Card Matchup: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins
The reigning NL Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, are about to embark on their quest to win a World Series this time around. They will need to defeat the Miami Marlins and the formidable Atlanta Braves to make it back to the NL Championship Series.
However, before they can even face the Braves, Miami is making its first postseason appearance since 2020, marking the franchise's first in a 162-game season since 2003 when they clinched the World Series.
The Miami Marlins are dealing with some significant injuries as they enter this year's postseason. NL batting champion Luis Arraez has been sidelined since September 23 due to a left ankle sprain sustained when he stepped on a baseball during a pregame workout on September 19. He aggravated the injury a few days later and was spotted walking with a noticeable limp, his ankle wrapped, on Wednesday.
Additionally, two other key Marlins players, NL Cy Young award winner Sandy Alcantara and rookie Eury Pérez, will not be available to pitch for the remainder of the year. Alcantara is dealing with an elbow injury, while Pérez has a hip issue.
Go Deeper: The team Kim Ng built: How MLB’s first female general manager assembled Marlins’ playoff team via Miami Herald.
The Philadelphia Phillies, the reigning NL champions, are embarking on their quest for their third World Series title. Former Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is eager to secure his first-ever World Championship ring with the team. The Phillies are set to start Zack Wheeler in Game One and Aaron Nola in Game Two. While the Game Three starter has not been officially announced, the most likely options are lefty Ranger Suarez or righty Taijuan Walker.
The Phillies' offense has been exceptionally strong this past year, and it wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has watched their games this season. With the entire series taking place at Citizens Bank Park, the noise level could potentially have an impact on the game.
It's worth noting that the Marlins won the season series against Philadelphia 7-6 and emerged victorious in both series played in Philadelphia.
In a deeper analysis, Sports Illustrated has suggested that the Philadelphia Phillies' offense might be underrated as they head into the MLB playoffs.
Now, for Richard's prediction:
As much as it pains me to say this, I believe that Philadelphia is likely to cruise to victory in this matchup. It will be interesting to see how Rob Thomson manages the team with an eye toward the next round against the Braves, which will undoubtedly be a significant challenge, given the Braves' strong performance.
One factor that could potentially sway the series one way or another is the running game. Fan Graphs has pointed out that the Marlins have allowed the second-highest stolen base rate in the league, while Philadelphia finished third in stolen base rate this season. Turner set a record by stealing 31 bases without being caught, Stott went 31-for-34, and Rojas is 14-for-15 in just 59 games.
Game 1, Tuesday, October 3, 2023, 8:08 p.m. ET (ESPN); Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
LHP Jesús Luzardo vs. RHP Zack Wheeler
Game 2, Wednesday, October 4, 2023, 8:08 p.m. ET (ESPN); Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
LHP Braxton Garrett vs. RHP Aaron Nola
Game 3 (if necessary), Thursday, October 5, 2023, 8:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)