PHILADELPHIA -- Eleven months later, the memory lingers.
A group of Phillies had huddled together in a corner of the visitors’ clubhouse at Minute Maid Park following their loss to Houston in Game 6 of the 2022 World Series. Their season finished, players sipped beers as they rehashed their wildly fun, wholly unexpected postseason run and thought about what might have been.
The Phillies were the final team to qualify for the 2022 postseason, winning 87 games to clinch the final National League Wild Card spot. They stormed through the NL and came within two victories of winning a World Series championship. They will try to finish the job beginning tonight with Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series against Miami.
“Nothing is going to be easy,” Phillies designated hitter Kyle Schwarber said. “They’re all really good teams in the postseason. Miami is a really good team. We’ve got to do what we do.”
The Marlins hope to be this year’s Phillies. They won 85 games to clinch an NL Wild Card spot -- the organization’s first postseason appearance in a full season since it won the World Series in 2003.
The Marlins will not be taken lightly by the Phillies. Miami won the season series against Philadelphia, 7-6, including winning four of those games by one run. The Marlins won another game by two runs.
“I think it definitely helped get [us] here, and so if we are in those situations, we know we've been there before and we're able to fight back,” Miami manager Skip Schumaker said.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The Phillies and Marlins will play Game 1 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The NL Wild Card Series will be available in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and the ESPN App. ESPN Radio will provide live national coverage of all 2023 MLB Postseason games, beginning with the Wild Card Series. In addition, MLB Network will have extensive studio coverage of the Wild Card Series.
The Phillies’ radio broadcast will be on SportsRadio 94 WIP and WTTM 1680 (Spanish). The Marlins’ radio broadcast will be on 940 WINZ AM and WAQI 710 (Spanish).
Who are the starting pitchers?
Marlins: LHP Jesús Luzardo (10-9, 3.63 ERA)
Miami won’t be able to turn to reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara (right UCL sprain), so hometown kid Luzardo will get the nod on regular four days’ rest. In Thursday’s suspended game against the Mets, Luzardo set the single-season strikeout record (208) for a left-hander in franchise history. He finished with the fifth-highest K/9 rate (10.48) among qualified NL pitchers and the eighth-highest fWAR (3.7) while blowing past his career highs for innings and starts.
Luzardo, who turned 26 on Saturday, went 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season. He struck out 14 and walked two across 12 1/3 innings. On April 11, Luzardo held the Phils to three runs on eight hits over six frames at Citizens Bank Park.
“I feel like really it just goes with the mentality of taking it pitch by pitch,” said Luzardo, who will be making his third career postseason start. “I feel like we've all played in big games before, and it's just really a matter of taking your personal feelings and your personal thoughts out of the game, and you want to basically focus on just the game that's in front of you.”
Phillies: RHP Zack Wheeler (13-6, 3.61 ERA)
Wheeler pitched better this season than his record and ERA indicate. He led all pitchers in the Majors with 6 fWAR, finishing fourth with a 3.18 xERA and sixth with a 3.15 FIP. Wheeler got hurt a few times early in the season because of his defense, but he finished strong, with a 3.01 ERA in his final 13 starts.
Wheeler went 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts this season against the Marlins, striking out 17 and walking four in 18 innings. He is 10-4 with a 2.48 ERA in 22 career starts against them.
What are the starting lineups?
Marlins: All-Star second baseman Luis Arraez’s left ankle is healed enough for him to make his first start since Sept. 23, according to Schumaker, and the two-time batting champion was slotted atop the order.
The additions of Josh Bell and Jake Burger at the Trade Deadline have given Miami much-needed thump in the middle of the order, contributing a combined 20 homers and 54 RBIs since their arrival. At shortstop, Jon Berti got the nod over Garrett Hampson (stronger defense) and left-handed-hitting Joey Wendle. Nick Fortes caught all 32 of Luzardo’s starts this season, so he's behind the dish.
Phillies: Philadelphia has one of baseball’s deepest lineups, with six players who hit 20 or more home runs and two players with 100-plus RBIs. The Phillies finished the regular season ranked in the top 10 in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored and home runs. And that’s after struggling the first three months of the season. Since Cristian Pache hits lefties better than Brandon Marsh, Pache got the start against Luzardo in Game 1.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Marlins: Schumaker’s bullpen features four high-leverage southpaws to mix and match against the left-handed sluggers in the Phillies’ lineup. Setup man Andrew Nardi and closer Tanner Scott will get the call if Miami has a late lead. On Sept. 10, Scott recorded his first five-out save, as the Marlins took the season series against the Phils in Philadelphia. His 104 strikeouts led all NL relievers.
Phillies: Manager Rob Thomson has options. He will use right-hander Craig Kimbrel and left-hander José Alvarado interchangeably in the eighth and ninth innings. Before them, there are left-handers Gregory Soto and Matt Strahm; and right-handers Jeff Hoffman, Seranthony Dominguez, Orion Kerkering and Michael Lorenzen.
Any injuries of note?
Marlins: Alcantara and rookie right-hander Eury Pérez (left SI joint inflammation) are out, and lefty Trevor Rogers (right lat strain) hasn’t pitched since April 19, thinning what was once a deep rotation. Arraez, who hasn’t started in more than a week, will bat leadoff.
Phillies: Rhys Hoskins is on the 60-day IL following left ACL surgery in March. The Phillies have said Hoskins has a chance to play this postseason, but it would not happen until the World Series. Even then, Hoskins would be limited to DH or pinch-hitter duties.
Who’s hot, who’s not?
Marlins: Over his past 10 games, Berti is hitting .500 with four homers. Soler is batting .368 -- but with just three extra-base hits -- since returning from the injured list on Sept. 17. Since the start of September, Sánchez has hit just .221 with 30 strikeouts and Wendle is 5-for-41 (.122).
Phillies: Turner enters the postseason with a 1.057 OPS since Aug. 4, when Phillies fans gave him standing ovations before each of his plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park. Harper has a 1.004 OPS and has hit 18 home runs since July 15. Since Sept. 1, Schwarber (.971 OPS) and Castellanos (.842 OPS) have swung the bats well, while Marsh (.674 OPS) and Stott (.500 OPS) have scuffled.