Phillies' struggling offense vs. Sandy Alcantara to begin final series before All-Star break

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Key storylines ahead of Phillies' final series before All-Star break originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies open their final series of the first half tonight at 6:40 in Miami as Kyle Gibson takes on Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara, not exactly the pitcher to face when your offense is scuffling.

The 26-year-old Alcantara is 9-3 with a 1.73 ERA in 18 starts. He leads the majors in innings and has the lowest ERA in the National League. He's faced the Phillies twice this season, allowing four runs in 14 innings.

The Phils did win their last meeting with Alcantara at home on June 13, tying the game on Didi Gregorius' two-out, eighth-inning single and winning it on Rhys Hoskins' walk-off double. That win made the Phillies 31-30 and they haven't been below .500 since.

The Phils enter the weekend with a 46-43 record. They're a half-game behind the Cardinals for the final NL wild-card spot and a half-game up on the Giants. The Marlins, at 43-45 after winning 10 of 15 games, aren't too far behind. The Phils would actually find themselves behind the Marlins in the standings if they were to get swept.

The Phillies' offense has been cold over the last week, scoring 12 runs in six games, the last four of which have been losses. It's coincided with Kyle Schwarber, who carried them for nearly six weeks, entering into a slump. Schwarber is 2 for his last 28 with a .133 on-base percentage and has been held hitless in six of his last seven games.

It cannot just be the Schwarber and Hoskins show if the Phillies want to stay in the race. They need other hitters -- namely Nick Castellanos, J.T. Realmuto and Gregorius, combining to earn just under $60 million this season -- to get hot out of the All-Star break. They could sure use positive signs from one or more of them this weekend.

One player who has swung it well this week is Bryson Stott. The rookie infielder homered in back-to-back games in Toronto, also lacing a single and lining out directly to the centerfielder. He's 5 for 14 over his last four games, and with so few productive bats currently in the lineup, Stott moved up to the 5-spot in Wednesday's loss. It was the highest he's been in the order for any start.

The Phillies have been heavily reliant of late on their pitching staff. Gibson, who makes his 18th start of the season, shut the Marlins down a month ago, allowing one run over eight innings.

Aaron Nola is scheduled to pitch Sunday's series finale. Saturday is TBD. It could be a bullpen game, or the Phillies could activate Ranger Suarez, who has been on the injured list since July 3 (retroactive to June 30) with back spasms.

The Phils are 3-4 this season against the Marlins, who haven't officially named a starter for Saturday or Sunday. Max Meyer, the third overall pick in 2020 and one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, is expected to make his MLB debut Saturday. The Fish are currently without their most dynamic player in Jazz Chisholm Jr., who is out with a back injury of his own. They are also without MLB stolen base leader Jon Berti, who left Thursday's game in the second inning and was placed on the IL with a groin injury after swiping his 28th.

After this weekend, the Phillies see the Marlins again at home Aug. 9-11 before facing them six times in nine days in mid-September. That will be a crucial stretch for the Phils because it's nine consecutive games against Miami and Washington before nine straight with Atlanta and Toronto.

But first up is this weekend's important series. With the Cardinals hosting the 34-55 Reds, this would not be the time for another Miami meltdown.

Subscribe to Phillies Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube