PHILADELPHIA -- This is a big season for the Phillies and the Marlins for much different reasons, 162 games or 60 games. The schedule does not change their circumstances.
The Phillies have spent a lot of money the past few seasons, slowly building a talented roster that is expected to make the postseason for the first time since 2011. They fell short of expectations the past two seasons, collapsing down the stretch each time. Maybe new manager Joe Girardi will make things different.
“Joe just has a level of poise about him that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen from a person, not only in a baseball setting, but just kind of in a life setting,” Phils first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “Nothing seems to really take him off guard. He always seems prepared and he’s very thorough, and I think that’s going to translate over to the clubhouse. That level of poise and confidence that he upholds himself I think is going to spill over into the clubhouse, and I think you’ll see a pretty confident bunch.”
The Marlins enter 2020 in the third year of their rebuild with the intention of surprising people. They are treating the 60-game season like a "sprint to the playoffs." It may sound overly optimistic for a franchise coming off back-to-back last-place finishes and a 57-105 record in 2019, but Miami feels it has upgraded its sluggish offense by adding Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson and Jesús Aguilar.
"You just feel like guys are ready, and they just want to go," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Now, it's getting to be that time when we find out what we can do. We've prepared and prepared, and at some point that gate comes open, and it's time to run."
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The Phillies host the Marlins at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Citizens Bank Park. In Philadelphia, fans can watch on NBC Sports Philadelphia and listen on 94WIP. In South Florida, fans can watch on FOX Sports Florida and listen on 940-AM WINZ and 710-AM WAQI.
The starting lineups
Marlins: After finishing last in the Majors in home runs (146) and second to last in runs (615) in 2019, Miami focused on upgrading its offense. In the offseason, the Marlins brought in Villar, Dickerson and Aguilar to mix with core players like Brian Anderson, Isan Díaz, Jorge Alfaro and Miguel Rojas. Villar immediately upgrades the leadoff spot, as he hit 24 homers and stole 40 bases last year with the Orioles. Dickerson and Aguilar are former All-Stars, and Anderson has All-Star potential.
- Jonathan Villar, CF
- Brian Anderson, 3B
- Corey Dickerson, LF
- Jesús Aguilar, 1B
- Harold Ramirez, RF
- Isan Díaz, 2B
- Garrett Cooper, DH
- Jorge Alfaro, C
- Miguel Rojas, SS
Phillies: The moment the National League adopted the designated hitter for the 60-game season, the Phils’ enthusiasm for their offense skyrocketed. They believe they can be one of the best offenses in the league, especially now that they can find plate appearance for hitters like Jay Bruce and eventually Alec Bohm, who is the club’s No. 1 prospect. Based on track records and potential, there is no reason why Philadelphia cannot put a bunch of runs on the board.
- Andrew McCutchen, LF
- Rhys Hoskins, 1B
- Bryce Harper, RF
- J.T. Realmuto, C
- Didi Gregorius, SS
- Jean Segura, 3B
- Jay Bruce, DH
- Scott Kingery, 2B
- Roman Quinn, CF
Who are the starting pitchers?
Marlins: The root of Miami's optimism stems from their rotation, which is fronted by right-hander Sandy Alcantara, an All-Star in 2019, when he went 6-14 with a 3.88 ERA in 32 starts and 197 1/3 innings. He was even stronger in the month of September, posting a 2.59 ERA in 41 2/3 innings.
“His stuff is as good as anyone,” Mattingly said. “I don’t care who you want to put out there. His stuff is as good as anyone’s.”
A year ago, Alcantara had a 3.54 ERA on the road, and he was 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against the Phillies.
Phillies: Aaron Nola joined some remarkable company when Girardi named him the team’s Opening Day starter.
Nola is the first Phils pitcher to make three consecutive Opening Day starts since Hall of Fame right-hander Roy Halladay (2010-12). Hall of Fame left-hander Steve Carlton is the last Philadelphia pitcher to start four or more. He started 10 consecutive Opening Days from 1977-86.
“I feel like I’m ready,” Nola said Saturday, after pitching five-plus scoreless innings in an exhibition against the Nationals.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Marlins: Miami will carry 17 pitchers (12 relievers) because of expanded rosters. Brandon Kintzler is the projected closer, and Yimi García has put himself in position to set up in the seventh or eighth innings. Adam Conley is a veteran left-hander, and he is joined by southpaw Stephen Tarpley, who was with the Yankees last year. In a short season, where every game is magnified, the Marlins are open to converting some of their starting prospects into relievers, as evidenced by Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger making the club.
Phillies: Héctor Neris will be the closer. Left-handers José Álvarez and Adam Morgan are two late-inning relievers at Girardi’s disposal. After that, who knows? Right-handers Tommy Hunter and Nick Pivetta likely will pitch meaningful high-leverage innings. But after those five, the Phillies are going with a group with relatively little big league experience (if any at all): Deolis Guerra, Cole Irvin, Trevor Kelley, Reggie McClain, Ramón Rosso and Austin Davis. Girardi is known to run an excellent bullpen. He will be tested early.
Any injuries of note?
Marlins: Outfielders Matt Joyce and Lewis Brinson as well as reliever Drew Steckenrider will open the season on the injured list. No specific injuries are listed for Joyce and Brinson. Joyce, a left-handed hitter, projected as a starter in right field at least three or four times a week. He could serve as the designated hitter, too. Brinson was competing for a backup spot, and this was expected to be a big year for the young outfielder to prove he belongs after struggling in his first two seasons with the organization. Steckenrider, who made just 15 appearances because of right elbow inflammation in 2019, is on the IL with right triceps tendinitis.
Phillies: Left-hander Ranger Suárez has not been in camp, and the Phils have not said why. Otherwise, the team as it stands is healthy. Right-hander Seranthony Domínguez is out for the season, and he is going to have Tommy John surgery at some point. Right-hander David Robertson is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Philadelphia said there is a chance he could pitch again this season, although there have been no updates recently.
Who is hot and who is not?
Marlins: Harold Ramirez established himself as a regular in the outfield after impressing the staff in Summer Camp. He projects as a right fielder, but he also can play center and left. Ramirez hit .276 with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs as a rookie last season. Anderson looks to get on track after being out since Aug. 23, when he sustained a broken fifth metacarpal from a hit by pitch while facing the Phillies.
Phillies: Velasquez has been one of the most impressive performers in Phils camp. He should make some strong starts for Philadelphia this season by incorporating a new cutter and bringing back his changeup. Harper has been playing with his hair on fire this summer, hustling down the line and turning singles into doubles. He seems motivated to have a big season.
Anything else fans might want to know?
• Entering his fifth season as the Marlins' manager, Mattingly's career mark in Miami is 276-370. He's tied with Fredi González (276-279) for second place in wins in franchise history. Jack McKeon (281-257) is the Marlins' all-time wins leader.
• The Marlins are 11-16 all-time on Opening Day, and they have lost five straight since beating the Rockies at home in 2014. The Phillies are 61-74-2 on Opening Day.