The Phillies went 4-5 on their most recent road trip and fell to 8-14 away from Citizens Bank Park this season. They’ve had a losing record on each of their last five road trips dating to last season. You have to go back 10 road trips to find the last time they finished one with a winning record. That came during a seven-game trip against Cincinnati and the New York Mets when they went 4-3 from Sept. 2-8, 2019.
The good news about the Phillies’ most recent trip is they lost only two games in the standings. They were in first place by one game with a 17-15 record when they left Philadelphia after a four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers and they will go into Tuesday night’s game against the Miami Marlins in second place, one game behind the Mets, who won, 3-1, Monday night in Atlanta.
Even better news: The Phillies play their next six games at home against the Marlins and Boston Red Sox. The Phillies’ 13-6 home record is the third best in baseball, behind only the Mets (11-4) and San Francisco Giants (14-4).
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Here come the Marlins
What team has never won a division title, but has more World Series titles than every other team in its division over the last 30 years?
What team has had a bottom-five payroll 15 times in this century, but still has won a World Series?
What’s the only team in the NL East the Phillies did not have a winning record against in either 2019 or 2020?
Guess who’s coming to town Tuesday night?
It should be at least a little maddening to Philadelphia fans that the Florida/Miami Marlins are only in their 29th season and have been to the postseason only three times, but still have as many World Series titles as the Phillies.
Even more maddening, of course, is what the Marlins have done to the Phillies in each of the last two seasons. While the rest of the National League East has gone 59-28 against the Marlins, the Phillies are 13-16 against them. That includes a 3-7 record last year when one more win would have put the Phillies in the playoffs.
The Marlins (18-22) come to town in last place in the NL East, but they are by no means considered the pushover they were two seasons ago. Unlike the Phillies, they did make the playoffs a year ago, and they even won their first-round series against the Chicago Cubs.
The obvious strength of the Marlins is their pitching. Their 3.55 ERA is tied for seventh in baseball and fifth in the National League. They are the only team that has an ERA less than 4.00 that does not have a winning record. The Phillies, by comparison, have a 4.21 ERA that ranks 18th in baseball and seventh in the NL. They are one of two teams with an ERA higher than 4.00 with a winning record.
Rookie lefty Trevor Rogers has been the ace of Miami’s staff and one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting a 5-2 record and 1.84 ERA in eight starts. He has struck out 57 and allowed just 49 baserunners in 44 innings. Rogers will pitch Wednesday night against Zach Eflin. Rogers was the 13th overall pick in the 2017 draft, the same year the Phillies took Adam Haseley eighth overall.
The Phillies will also have a tough assignment Thursday when Vince Velasquez goes against Sandy Alcantara, who is 4-1 with a 2.82 ERA in six career starts against them.
The Marlins’ rotation should get even better once former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez returns from a shoulder injury. Sanchez, 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in seven starts last season, is expected back at some point next month.
Miami’s bullpen has also been terrific, posting a 3.29 ERA that ranks fifth in baseball and second in the NL. The Phillies’ relief corps has a 4.26 ERA, which is 20th in baseball and ninth in the NL. The Marlins have seven relievers who have pitched at least 15 innings and have an ERA less than 4.00. The Phillies have only three relievers — Hector Neris, Sam Coonrod and Jose Alvarado — who fit into that category.
The Marlins’ biggest weakness has been their offense. They are hitting just .229, and their 3.95-runs-per-game average ranks 24th in baseball. They have a .257 on-base percentage and have averaged 2.8 runs per game over their last nine games, going 3-6 during that stretch.
Despite their lack of offense, the Marlins, at plus-5, are the only team in the NL East with a positive run differential. The Phillies are minus-7.
Ed Barkowitz takes a detailed look at where the Phillies stand a quarter of the way through the 2021 season. Zack Wheeler’s work in the second half is among the reasons to be optimistic.
The Phillies are likely to make a series of roster moves Tuesday after playing with a short bench that forced an injured Bryce Harper into action during Sunday’s loss against Toronto.
On the 25th-year anniversary of Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter with the New York Yankees, Phillies manager Joe Girardi offered his view of the event from behind the plate.
Tonight: Zack Wheeler pitches series opener against Marlins, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Zach Eflin faces Trevor Rogers, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Vince Velasquez against Sandy Alcantara, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Aaron Nola pitches series opener against Boston, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: Homestand concludes against Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
Wheeler, who will pitch Tuesday night’s series opener against Miami, has had more success against the Marlins than any other team. The right-hander is 8-3 with a 1.87 ERA in 15 career starts against Miami. In 101 1/3 innings, he has allowed 72 hits and 23 walks, striking out 109. The Phillies won Wheeler’s only start against Miami last season, when he allowed one run on five hits over seven innings.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Question: What are your feelings about Scott Kingery? Do you think they overvalued his abilities? He seems totally lost at the plate. — Harry D., via email
Answer: Thank you for the question and for reading Extra Innings, Harry. My feeling as a human being for Kingery right now is one of sympathy. I saw Kingery play quite a few times coming up through the minor-league system and, at the very least, I thought he was going to be an everyday player who would have a long major-league career.
But, as you said, he is as lost as lost can be right now and I believe the only way for him to even have a chance to recover is by going to the minor leagues for an extended period of time. I don’t think the Phillies overvalued Kingery, but something terrible has happened along the way that has changed the trajectory of his career and destroyed his confidence as a player.