Every game against the Miami Marlins is a strong opportunity for a win and the Phillies are wasting them.
The Phils' four-game win streak was snapped with a 6-2 loss to the Marlins Friday night. They've lost four in a row to Miami and gone 24 for 127 in those games, a .189 batting average.
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They had four hits in the loss.
The Marlins are 6-5 against the Phillies this season and 7-20 against the rest of the NL East, including 1-8 against the Braves. If the Phils end up losing out on a division title by a few games, this could end up being the primary reason why.
Vince Velasquez started and the Phillies hoped to get 90 to 95 pitches out of him. He threw 84 over 4⅓ innings, giving up four runs in a lackluster performance. He did, however, help himself with a two-run home run that had a ton of height and landed just inside the foul pole in left field.
The Phillies are 43-39. They entered the night 4½ games behind the Braves and 2½ ahead of the Nationals.
Skip Velasquez's next start?
The Phillies have not made a firm decision about the No. 5 spot in the rotation. It was Velasquez, then it wasn't, then it was again because no better immediate option existed. Cole Irvin, Jerad Eickhoff, Enyel De Los Santos and Ranger Suarez have not proven to be better choices.
A week and a half ago in Washington, manager Gabe Kapler insinuated that Velasquez would make the start against the Marlins June 22 unless he was needed out of the bullpen vs. the Nats.
For this start, he committed earlier, saying Monday that the nod would go to Velasquez Friday.
The Phillies were able to get away with it these last two turns because both came against the Marlins. Velasquez pitched well in the first start, allowing one run on one hit (a solo homer) over five innings. In this game, he gave up some hard contact and struggled with command.
Because of the off-day on July 1, the Phillies can skip the fifth spot in the rotation the only time it's set to come up before the All-Star break. Eflin, who pitches Saturday, would be on regular rest July 4.
It seems like a no-brainer because the alternative is starting Velasquez again in Atlanta, the site of the 15-1 loss on Father's Day in the game Velasquez opened and Irvin followed.
Little offense to speak of
Maikel Franco had the Phillies' best at-bats, doubling ahead of Velasquez's fifth-inning homer and crushing a 394-foot flyout in his first AB.
J.T. Realmuto was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He is hitting .257/.314/.428 this season. His defense has been top-notch and his baserunning may be unmatched among catchers, but he has not yet met expectations offensively.
Through this many games last season, Realmuto was hitting 54 points higher (.311) with 13 more extra-base hits.
Hunter makes season debut
Activated before the game, reliever Tommy Hunter made his season debut with a scoreless eighth inning.
Hunter had been out since late February with a flexor strain. He will be a key to this Phillies bullpen moving forward because of his ability to get more than three outs and to retire left-handed hitters - which right-handed Phillies relievers have not done a good job of. More on that here.
Haseley activated but sent to AAA
The Phillies also activated outfielder Adam Haseley, who had been out with a groin strain suffered two games into his major-league career. Haseley was optioned to Triple A. The Phillies are not as depleted now as they were when they first called him up, and his promotion was probably earlier than many in the organization expected.
Still, he's not too far away. Haseley would be the next outfielder up if another injury occurs, or if the Phillies ever decide to go to a five-man bench. They have not shown any desire over the last two seasons to drop a reliever for a fifth bench player. Plus, they'll want Haseley to play every day.
The last time ...
Velasquez's homer was the first by a Phillies pitcher since Jake Arrieta last June 3. Zach Eflin had the Phillies' other home run from a pitcher in 2018 nine days earlier.
It was the first extra-base hit this season by a Phillies pitcher. They were the only National League team without one. Phils pitchers have hit .105 with a .258 OPS this season. The league average is .127 with a .331 OPS.
Pitching matchups for the rest of the series:
Saturday afternoon at 4:10 - Zach Eflin (7-7, 3.26) vs. Jordan Yamamoto (3-0, 0.95)
Sunday afternoon at 1:10 - Jake Arrieta (7-6, 4.33) vs. Trevor Richards (3-8, 3.94)
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