MLB

Marlins vs. Phillies series preview: Aaron Nola looks to regain form

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It was a bleak start for the Philadelphia Phillies (13-11, 1st in NL East) in its series against the New York Mets. Scoring only one run in its first two games, the Phillies then accounted for six runs in the series finale to earn a 6-0 victory. Was that win a sign of a turnaround for the Phillies? Let’s take a look at that possibility as the Miami Marlins come to Philly.

Pitching Match-ups and Start Times:

Thursday 4/25, 7:05 p.m.: Caleb Smith vs. Aaron Nola
Friday 4/26, 7:05 p.m.: Jose Urena vs. Jerad Eickhoff
Saturday 4/27, 6:05 p.m.: Trevor Richards vs. Jake Arrieta
Sunday 4/28, 1:05 p.m.: Pablo Lopez vs. Zach Eflin

It’s odd to say in late April that this is a crucial start for Aaron Nola, but it is. The Phillies can’t afford to have their ace pitcher continue to struggle. Nola’s last start against the Colorado Rockies started off poorly, but by the end of his 5.2 innings he looked like fine. Can he finally put together an ace-like performance this time? I think so.

Other than Nola, I think what we’ve seen from this rotation is what should be expected. Only a few games have gotten away from the starting rotation so far, but for the most part has kept the team in games. Like I’ve said before, the rotation currently is not the cause of the Phillies problems in this recent skid. So the most important story for the Phillies rotation this series, is a hopeful dominant start from Nola

What to Watch For:

A couple of players on the Injured List may be returning this series. Jean Segura’s stint on the IL is scheduled to end April 27 and Herrera on April 28. Segura is the most likely of the two be activated and return to the lineup right away.

As we’ve seen since the injury to Segura, he is a pivotal piece in the Phillies lineup. In the Phillies usual lineup with Segura, he is the only one of the four top hitters to not have over 20 strikeouts this season. Pair that with the fact that he has the highest batting average, Segura’s return is much needed.

The Phillies need a spark offensively.  Maybe the six-run game against the Mets on Wednesday was a sign of a turnaround, but that remains to be seen. The insertion of Segura back into the lineup could help get the Phillies offense rolling again.

Also, Bryce Harper has some things that need to be worked out this weekend. Currently his K% stands at 31.5% which by far be a career high. Obviously, there is still plenty of time for that number to go down. It is still a noteworthy trend and one that could be troublesome for the new Phillies slugger.

Prop Bets (from Monkey Knife Fight):

Game 1:
Caleb Smith – o/u 6.5 strikeouts – Smith has strikeout potential and the Phillies have been striking out at a higher rate in recent games. OVER
Aaron Nola – o/u 7.5 strikeouts – I would love to take the over on this, but Nola is still a wild card at this point. PASS
Bryce Harper – o/u 1.5 runs + RBIs – Harper had a run and an RBI on Wednesday, but that was the first time in four games. UNDER

DFS Play: Caleb Smith

May not like this one and I know it can be hard to insert opposite of your favorite team into your lineup, but it is the right play. Caleb Smith is one of the cheapest options on DraftKings. With the Phillies struggling lineup and Smith’s strikeout potential, Smith is almost a must-play at his price. The only downside is win potential for Smith. Even if he were to pitch well against the Phillies, the Marlins bullpen/offense doesn’t make a win guaranteed for Smith.

Other Notes:

After two fastballs flew past the head of Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies were trying to find answers on how to deal with the situation. Both Hoskins and Gabe Kapler were clearly not happy with the incident. Then in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game, Hoskins hit a home run off of the same pitcher that threw at him the game before. What followed was a 34-second trot around the bases for Hoskins, the longest by any player this season, by far.

Of course, the trot has now been talked about by the entire baseball community. What I saw, was a way to show up a pitcher by play on the field. No fists. No brawls. No suspensions. Retaliation should not come in the form of violence or hit batters. It only makes things worse.  If a player feels wronged or disrespected, let the play on the field talk and enjoy doing it.

The best part, was Jacob Rhame’s comments after the game:

There is an understanding of why Hoskins did what he did and more importantly, the conflict ended there.

All of this could have ended with suspensions for Hoskins and anyone else that got involved in a brawl. It’s pointless, especially over a non-existent, ancient code between baseball players. I’d rather see more slow trots and bat flips as retaliation. Not pointless suspensions.

 


You can follow Jon Jansen on Twitter (@jjansen34) and e-mail him at jpjansen12@gmail.com.

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