Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler is hoping to continue his career year on Sunday afternoon against the visiting Miami Marlins.
Before Wheeler (6-5, 2.26 ERA) takes the mound, however, the Phillies and Marlins will attempt to finish the game that was postponed due to rain on Saturday night. The teams were tied 2-2 with no outs in the top of the 10th inning. The Marlins had a placed runner on second base and a 1-1 count on Jon Berti when Mother Nature intervened.
“The outfield was under water,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the decision to postpone the game.
As for Wheeler, he has a career ERA of 3.51, but he has been much better than that this year. His strikeouts per nine innings (10.9) and his WHIP (0.969) are both on pace to be the best marks of his career.
The Marlins, who have not named their starter for Sunday’s game, are 0-1 against Wheeler this year. On May 18, the Phillies beat the Marlins, 8-3, as Wheeler allowed just one run in seven innings, striking out 10 batters and walking none.
Philadelphia, though, is just 10-8 when Wheeler starts, including 4-4 in his past eight appearances.
Wheeler has pitched at least six innings of scoreless ball six times this season. Most recently, he did it on July 2, holding down the San Diego Padres for 7 2/3 innings.
“What he’s doing is Cy Young, MVP — it’s all of it,” teammate Brad Miller said of Wheeler. “It’s power stuff just on the corners. It’s incredible.”
The Marlins are well-aware of Wheeler’s excellence. In 16 career starts against the Marlins, Wheeler is 8-3 with a 1.74 ERA.
In 24 career starts in Philly, Wheeler is 10-3 with a 2.39 ERA.
The numbers are more ominous for Miami since Sunday’s game is set to be a daytime start. In six daytime games this year, Wheeler is unbeaten — 4-0 with a 0.79 ERA. He also has a 1.83 ERA at home this season.
Meanwhile, the Marlins initially were set to start right-hander Pablo Lopez (5-5, 3.03 ERA) on Sunday. But Lopez — considered one of Miami’s top three starters — was placed on the injured list on Saturday due to a strained rotator cuff.
Lopez’s most recent start was last Sunday, when he struck out the first nine Atlanta Braves batters in a 7-4 Marlins win.
But with Lopez out for Sunday’s game, the Marlins will likely start one of their relievers.
The Marlins are already short-handed as third baseman Brian Anderson and left fielder Jesus Sanchez are on the injured list. Starting pitchers Sixto Sanchez and Elieser Hernandez are also out.
Miami will instead rely on sluggers such as Jesus Aguilar (17 homers, team-high 68 RBIs), Garrett Cooper (team-high .862 OPS) and Adam Duvall (team-high 19 homers, 62 RBIs).
Aguilar hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning on Saturday, tying the score and helping to send the game to extra innings.
In addition, the Marlins boast dynamic talents such as Starling Marte (seven homers and 18 steals in 20 attempts) and rookie Jazz Chisholm Jr. (11 homers and 11 steals). Veteran shortstop Miguel Rojas is Miami’s glue guy.
–Field Level Media