The Philadelphia Phillies host the NL East rival Miami Marlins in the first game of a best-of-3 Wild Card series on Tuesday night. The Phillies are sending ace Zack Wheeler to the mound against Marlins lefty Jesús Luzardo.
The Phillies are the betting favorites at -155 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at 7.5 runs. This article provides Marlins vs. Phillies analysis, predictions, and best bets including a recommendation to pick the Phillies moneyline.
Marlins vs. Phillies Prediction Game 1 NL Wild Card
Starting pitchers: LHP Jesús Luzardo (10-9, 3.63 ERA) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (13-6, 3.61 ERA)
The Marlins and Phillies may be longtime division rivals, but this is the first time these teams are meeting in the playoffs. It’s just the Marlins’ 4th playoff appearance since the franchise was started in 1993, and one of the previous 3 appearances was in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
Most baseball fans probably know the other two times – in 1997 and 2003 – the Marlins went on to win the World Series. That means they have never made the playoffs in a 162-game regular season and failed to win the whole thing. Can they do it again?
The Phillies were the better team this season (not just because they had a better record) and one of the best teams in all of baseball since June 1. After starting just 25-30 over the first two months, their 65-42 record since then was the 4th best mark in the majors.
The Marlins always seem to play the Phillies tough, even in seasons when the Phillies are the better team. They won the season series this year 7-6 despite a -9 run differential. They also won 3 of the 4 series including all 3 of the 3-game series these teams played (the Phillies took the 4-game series 3-1). Miami has won the season series against Philadelphia in 4 of the last 5 seasons and their series record against Philadelphia over that span is 12-10-2.
In the first game of this series, the Phillies should have the edge with their playoff-tested ace Zack Wheeler on the mound. Wheeler had a down year this year by his lofty standards, finishing with his highest ERA since 2019. However, he was much better after the All-Star break with a 3.08 ERA and his advanced metrics were also excellent. His 3.15 FIP was 8th best in the majors (minimum 100 innings). Wheeler had 3 starts against the Marlins this season and pitched at least 6 innings while allowing no more than 3 runs each time.
Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo pitched twice against the Phillies this year and was 2-0 in those starts. He pitched 12-1/3 totals innings while allowing 5 runs and striking out 14 hitters. Luzardo was 18th in the majors in FIP this season.
One of the biggest unknowns in this game is the potential impact of the playoff atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park. That was one of the big storylines of the Phillies’ run to the World Series last year, when they won their first 6 home games in a row including two series clinchers. They will certainly have a significant home field advantage tonight, but as we saw in their final 2 home games in the World Series last year, that can only go so far.
Phillies start Red October tomorrow night 8pm at CBP against the Marlins
Zack Wheeler vs Jesus Luzardo & Aaron Nola vs Braxton Garrett
Phillies are 22-11 in playoffs at CBP, tied for the best home winning % at any ballpark in baseball history (minimum 30 playoff games) pic.twitter.com/Tp7kToWmQm
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 2, 2023
The Marlins were the worst offense in the National League this season and one of the worst in all of baseball. They finished 26th overall in runs scored (last in the NL) and 19th in wRC+. They did improve offensively after the trade deadline, when they acquired Josh Bell and Jake Burger, but they were still just 22nd in runs and 18th in wRC+ with those two power bats in the lineup.
The feisty Marlins can never be counted out, but it would be very hard to pick against the Phillies tonight with Wheeler on the mound. There is not much value on the Phillies moneyline at -155, and we don’t love the idea of laying -1.5 in a playoff game just to get the +140 odds. The best value bet is the Marlins’ moneyline at +140, but again, we just can’t pick against the Phillies tonight, so the official pick is the Phillies moneyline despite the less-than-favorable odds.
Marlins vs. Phillies Prediction: Phillies moneyline (-155)
Marlins vs. Phillies Odds
The Phillies are heavy favorites with -155 moneyline odds, while the Marlins’ best moneyline odds are at +136 at DraftKings.
The Phillies are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +140 odds, while the Marlins are getting +1.5 runs at -165 odds.
The over/under in this game is set at 7.5 runs with -105 odds on the over and -115 odds on the under.
Marlins vs. Phillies Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Marlins vs. Phillies.
Jesús Luzardo vs. Phillies lefties
The Phillies’ superior lineup is one of the main reasons we picked them in our Marlins vs. Phillies prediction. While their lineup skews more righty, their two best power hitters (Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper) and their best contact hitter (Bryson Stott) are all lefties.
Luzardo is significantly better against lefties than he is against righties. He held lefties to a .215 average, .600 OPS and 2.45 FIP this season while allowing a .248 average, .745 OPS and 3.88 FIP against righties. That bodes well for the rest of the Phillies lineup, especially Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos, but if the Phillies can also get some good at-bats from Harper, Schwarber, and Stott, then they will be that much more dangerous offensively.
It will also be interesting to see if Phillies manager Rob Thomson puts lefty Brandon Marsh in the lineup tonight or opts for a righty bat like Weston Wilson. Despite only playing in 8 games this season, Wilson made the 26-man roster for this series to give the Phillies an extra right-handed bat against the Marlins’ lefty-heavy pitching staff.
In addition to having a lefty starter, the Marlins have 4 excellent lefties in their bullpen including closer Tanner Scott and setup man (and backup closer) A.J. Puk. Overall, the Marlins have been average at best in the bullpen this season. Their bullpen had a 4.37 ERA (21st) and a 4.07 FIP (14th), and those numbers declined over the last few weeks of the season (5.16 ERA and 4.43 FIP since September 1).
Philadelphia’s bullpen struggled at times, but overall they were one of the best relief staffs this season. Their 3.56 bullpen ERA ranked 6th while their 3.88 FIP ranked 5th. They finished the season strong with a 2.74 ERA and 3.75 FIP since September 1.
Despite their below-average bullpen, the Marlins managed to have the best record in the league in 1-run games this season at 33-13. The Phillies may have the edge on the mound late in this game, but the Marlins cannot be counted out.
Marlins vs. Phillies Starting Lineups (Projected)
Marlins Starting Lineup
2B Luis Arraez (L)
DH Jorge Soler (R)
1B Josh Bell (S)
CF Jazz Chisholm (L)
3B Jake Burger (R)
LF Bryan De La Cruz (R)
RF Jesus Sanchez (L)
SS Joey Wendle (L)
C Jacob Stallings (R)
Phillies Starting Lineup
DH Kyle Schwarber (L)
SS Trea Turner (R)
1B Bryce Harper (L)
RF Nick Castellanos (R)
C J.T. Realmuto (R)
2B Bryson Stott (L)
3B Alec Bohm (R)
LF Brandon Marsh (L)
CF Johan Rojas (R)