The Philadelphia Phillies, who hold the second of three available National League wild-card playoff positions, open a three-game road series against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.
Philadelphia, idle on Monday, will send left-hander Bailey Falter (4-3, 4.02 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday.
Miami, which split a home doubleheader against the Texas Rangers on Monday, will start right-hander Sandy Alcantara (12-7, 2.43).
The Phillies (78-62) are riding a three-game winning streak, having swept the visiting Washington Nationals over the weekend. Prior to that, Philadelphia took two of three games from the visiting Marlins.
With 22 games left, the Phillies are in position for their first playoff berth since 2011. They lead the third-place San Diego Padres (77-64) by 1 1/2 games and the Milwaukee Brewers (75-66), currently out of playoff position, by 3 1/2 games.
“This (race) is going to be as competitive as it gets,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “I know our whole group is excited.”
Falter, 25, made his major league debut last year, pitching 22 times, including 21 relief outings. This year, Falter, the Phillies’ fifth-round pick out of the California prep ranks in 2015, has emerged as a starter.
Falter has made 15 appearances in the majors this year, 11 as a starter. He also made nine Triple-A starts this season, going 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA.
In five career appearances against the Marlins, including two starts, he is 1-0 with a 5.25 ERA. This year, he has made two appearances (one start) against the Marlins, going 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA.
The Phillies are 11-4 when Falter pitches, including a 4-3 victory over the Marlins on Wednesday. Falter started that game and went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and no walks. He struck out three.
Falter’s presence is key because Zack Wheeler is on the injured list, and although he was just reinstated on Monday to join the active roster for the series opener against Miami, Zach Eflin was on the 60-day IL with a knee injury.
Philadelphia’s IL also includes Corey Knebel, who leads the team with 12 saves, and right fielder Nick Castellanos.
Alcantara has already faced the Phillies five times this season, going 1-2 with a 3.28 ERA. The Marlins are 2-3 this year when Alcantara pitches against the Phillies, and he made four quality starts in those five outings.
“He’s the best pitcher in the game right now, or at least in the conversation,” Hoskins said of Alcantara.
In 15 career starts against the Phillies, Alcantara is 6-6 with a 3.19 ERA.
Alcantara’s most recent start came on Thursday, when the Marlins (58-83) rallied in the ninth to beat the Phillies 6-5. The righty yielded five runs (three earned) on eight hits and no walks in six innings. He fanned seven.
Miami’s Brian Anderson, who had the game-winning hit in that contest, also hit two homers against the New York Mets on Sunday and added four hits in the Monday doubleheader.
Anderson set his career highs in homers (20), RBIs (66) and OPS (.811) in 2019. However, slowed by injuries over the past two years, he has a total of just 15 homers.
“It’s still there — he’s still young,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Anderson, 29. “You could see his swing come early in the season, but a couple of stints on the injured list chopped up his year.”
–Field Level Media