Philadelphia Phillies star right-hander Zack Wheeler has been moved back in the rotation after initially being scheduled to start Sunday in the series finale against the host Miami Marlins.
It’s a curious move by the Phillies (69-66), who are in danger of getting swept in three games by the lowly Marlins (57-79).
The Phillies arrived in Miami on Friday on a six-game winning streak. But now they have lost two straight, including 3-2 on Saturday, a game during which reliever Archie Bradley failed to hold a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi, though, made his decision on Wheeler before the blown opportunity by Bradley.
“We just like the way it lined up better,” Girardi said of the rotation and Wheeler (11-9, 3.01 ERA), who now will start Monday in the opener of a three-game series at the Milwaukee Brewers. “I don’t think it will hurt (Wheeler) at all.”
Girardi has not announced a starter for Sunday’s game, which likely means a bullpen game for the Phillies.
“We will mix and match,” Girardi said. “It depends on who is in Miami’s lineup.”
No matter who starts on the mound, the Phillies will need to hit better than they have in the past two games. They have scored just five runs in the first two games of the series.
Ironically, in the seven games prior to the start of this series, the Phillies had scored at least seven runs in each contest.
The Phillies’ two biggest hitting stars — Bryce Harper and former Marlin J.T. Realmuto — have been quiet in this series. Harper is just 1-for-8 with a single. Realmuto is 2-for-8 with two singles, and neither player has scored a run or driven one in.
Instead, Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas is 6-for-7 in this series with four RBIs and three runs scored.
The Marlins are way out of playoff contention, but that hasn’t stopped them from competing.
“We’re going to try to spoil some seasons,” said Lewis Brinson, who hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 3-2 win.
As for Sunday’s starter, Marlins manager Don Mattingly will turn to right-hander Elieser Hernandez (1-1, 3.62 ERA).
Hernandez is 3-0 with a 3.93 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) versus the Phillies.
This year, Hernandez has yet to face the Phillies, as he has been limited to six starts due to injuries. The Marlins are 3-3 in those six starts.
Hernandez is 6-7 with a 3.53 ERA in 37 career appearances (16 starts) in Miami.
Meanwhile, Miami’s offense is built around young hitters such as second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. and outfielder Jesus Sanchez.
“You’ve seen the growth Jazz is having,” Mattingly said. “(Sanchez) is a big, strong and physical dude. He is continuing to shorten his (swing), closing the holes.
“The more he tightens his swing … (Sanchez) has a chance to be a monster. He doesn’t miss in the strike zone much. He’s going to be some kind of dangerous.”
Another young player getting a chance with the Marlins is Isan Diaz, who will be given a lot of work at third base now that starter Brian Anderson is on the injured list with a shoulder ailment.
“Isan will get the lion’s share,” Mattingly said. “He’s a guy the organization wants to get a bigger picture on so they can make decisions going into the winter.”
–Field Level Media