PHILADELPHIA -- The Marlins seemed to constantly be playing what felt like must-win games down the stretch -- and that's exactly what they will face in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series against the Phillies on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Following Zack Wheeler's dominant performance in Philadelphia's 4-1 win in Game 1, the Phils are now one win away from setting up a rematch with the rival Braves in the NL Division Series. Miami, meanwhile, will be looking to stave off elimination and force a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday night.
“The shorter the series, I think the more important Game 1 is,” Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said. “Kind of take that pressure off yourself.”
All the pressure now shifts to the Marlins, who will be tasked with not only winning two straight games, but doing so in front of the Philadelphia faithful. Miami went 38-42 on the road this season, while the Phillies were 49-32 at home. They're also 7-2 at Citizens Bank Park over the past two postseasons.
In best-of-three Wild Card Series (which includes 2020 and ’22), Game 1 winners have gone on to win the series 10 of 12 times (83%).
For now, Miami’s only focus is on winning Game 2.
“I think they know what's at stake. I think they know what [Wednesday] means,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “We're going to do the same thing we've always done, [which] is go in, game plan and try to beat [Phillies starting pitcher Aaron] Nola [on Wednesday]. That's what we have always done, and I don't think that's going to change [Wednesday].”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 2 is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday on ESPN.
All series are available in the U.S. on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Marlins: Left-hander Braxton Garrett was the odd man out when the club set its Opening Day rotation, but by season’s end, he had become its most consistent starter. Miami went 21-10 in his starts, in large part because the 26-year-old held opponents to one or zero earned runs in 16 of them – second in MLB behind the Padres’ Blake Snell (17). Garrett went 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA against the Phillies this season, giving up three runs across five innings in each of his two starts. The Marlins won both games at home.
“I don't think really at all,” said Garrett, when asked whether Game 1’s outcome would affect him. “I'm still going to do my same game plan and the same things I do prestart anyways. So, no matter what, I'm going to go in confident and pitch the best I can.”
Phillies: Aaron Nola will look to close out the NL Wild Card Series for a second straight season. The veteran righty tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 2 against the Cardinals last year to secure the series-clinching victory in St. Louis. And while Nola has had an up-and-down 2023 campaign, he managed to finish the regular season on a high note, posting a 2.13 ERA over his final two starts. Nola struck out 16 batters and walked zero over those two outings -- and he departed his last start to a standing ovation from the home faithful.
As for the matchup, Nola went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against the Marlins this season after posting a 1.23 ERA in three outings vs. Miami in 2022.
What are the starting lineups?
Marlins: Schumaker went with the same lineup as Game 1 outside of swapping Jacob Stallings for Nick Fortes. Fortes had caught all 31 of Garrett’s regular-season starts in 2023.
“We talked about it as a staff a couple days ago, what we think the rotation will look like, and then if we wanted to split up the catching duties,” Schumaker said. “Luzardo and Fortes worked really well together. Thought blocking the really tough slider was going to factor into the game yesterday. I didn't realize how much it was going to factor into the game yesterday. Then Fortes did a really, really good job in getting out of some big jams with Zeus.
“I felt like Stallings can catch Brax no problem. I talked with Brax about it. Brax is a pitch maker. Stallings is a smart kid and can navigate through a game as good as anybody and has had some big hits lately. So I felt like that was the right move.”
Phillies: With the Marlins deploying another left-handed starter in Game 2, there weren't any changes to the Phillies’ lineup from Game 1. Cristian Pache, who hit .314 with a .924 OPS vs. lefties during the regular season, once again got the start in left field over Brandon Marsh (.229 average, .717 OPS vs. southpaws this season). Marsh will be used off the bench if an opportunity presents itself against one of Miami’s right-handed relievers.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Marlins: While Schumaker had to use four relievers in Game 1, none of them threw more than 20 pitches. In fact, they were so productive -- giving up one run on three hits over four innings -- that the ballclub was able to remain in the game and threaten to rally. Since the Marlins were behind in the opener, closer Tanner Scott and setup men Andrew Nardi and David Robertson weren’t used and will be fresh for Game 2.
Phillies: Manager Rob Thomson has plenty of options out of the bullpen. In Game 1, he went to left-hander José Alvarado in the seventh inning with two outs, the potential tying run on base and a left-handed batter due up. Alvarado escaped the jam, then he recorded two outs in the eighth before handing the ball to Jeff Hoffman for the final out of the frame. Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. With a travel day on Friday if the Phils advance -- and another potential off-day on Thursday if they win Game 2 -- everyone should be available out of the ‘pen. Thomson will continue to use Kimbrel and Alvarado interchangeably, while also mixing in lefties Gregory Soto and Matt Strahm and right-handers Hoffman, Seranthony Dominguez and Orion Kerkering.
Any injuries of note?
Marlins: Losing ace Sandy Alcantara (right UCL sprain) and rookie right-hander Eury Pérez (left SI joint inflammation) were major blows to the rotation, which has also been missing Trevor Rogers (right lat strain) since April. All three are out for the postseason.
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. He is expected to report to Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday, where he will take live BP as part of Philadelphia's stay-ready group.
Who’s hot, who’s not?
Marlins: Bell went 3-for-4 with two doubles in Game 1, while Soler was hitless in four at-bats with three strikeouts. He hasn’t gone deep since Sept. 17.
Phillies: Turner, Harper, Schwarber and Castellanos all finished the regular season strong -- and each made an impact in Game 1. Stott struggled down the stretch, but he came through with a key RBI single in the fourth inning of the series opener.
Anything else fans should know?
Marlins: Fans can attend a Game 2 watch party at Sports & Social at Dolphin Mall. … It has been a mixed bag for the Marlins against Nola: Soler is 5-for-16, but Chisholm (2-for-12 with 7 K’s) and Bell (4-for-25 with a double and a homer) have struggled.
Phillies: Albeit in a small sample size, Bohm (5-for-9 with a homer), Realmuto (3-for-7 with a homer) and Turner (2-for-6 with two HRs) have all had success against Garrett. … Jamie Moyer, who went 13-6 with a 3.09 ERA in 19 starts against the Marlins from 2006-10 with the Phillies, will throw out the first pitch prior to Game 2.