Philles-Marlins: 5 things you need to know

Philles-Marlins: 5 things you need to know
September 17, 2013, 3:30 pm
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Roy Halladay has walked 14 batters in 21 innings since returning from the DL. (USA Today Images)

1. When and where
With exactly a dozen games remaining, the Phillies (70-80) take on the Marlins (55-95) one night after winning, 12-2, behind a masterful all-around performance by Cliff Lee.
With 95 losses, this is the worst season the Marlins have had since 1999.

2. Halladay battling himself
On paper, Roy Halladay vs. Brian Flynn is a mismatch the way Lee vs. Sam Dyson was on Monday night. But it hasn’t mattered who Halladay has faced lately. His issues are with himself -- he just can’t consistently throw strikes.

Halladay has had back-to-back five-walk games, something that would be deemed unthinkable as recently as 18 months ago. He has one more walk this year than he had in all of 2010, in exactly 195 fewer innings.

Halladay (3-4, 7.28) just hasn’t fooled anyone since returning from the DL. He’s thrown 212 cutters and sinkers and gotten four swings-and-misses. His opponents are hitting better than .330 against his changeup.

This is a weak Marlins team but one that absolutely destroyed him on May 5 in the last start he made before having shoulder surgery. In that infamous game, the Marlins scored nine runs off Halladay in 2 1/3 innings on a depressing Sunday afternoon.

This appears to be Doc’s third-to-last start ever with the Phillies. He can’t change the recent past, but he can go out on a high note by recapturing his command. His next start figures to come against the Marlins as well.

3. Hail Cesar
Rookie centerfielder Cesar Hernandez has been very impressive at the plate and in the field under Ryne Sandberg, who has batted him leadoff almost every day since taking over as Phillies manager.

Hernandez enters Tuesday’s game with a .310 batting average and over his last 11 games has hit .400/.500/.486 with seven RBIs and eight runs. He and Jimmy Rollins set the table for the Phillies all night Monday, reaching base six times in 10 plate appearances.

Hernandez continues to push his way onto next year’s 25-man roster. His ability to play infield and outfield will likely earn him a spot on the bench, and the Phils know they have a capable 23-year-old bat if Ben Revere gets off to another slow start. A switch-hitter, Hernandez has hit .375 with a .918 OPS against right-handed pitchers. You want your switch-hitters to be better against righties since approximately 70 percent of major-league pitchers are right-handed.

4. Taking on a towering lefty
Flynn, who makes his third career start for Miami, stands at 6-foot-8. The Wichita State product has a 10.13 ERA for the Fish in two starts and has allowed 21 baserunners in eight innings. The Phillies should feast on him, even though they typically struggle against young southpaws they’ve never seen.

A seventh-round pick by the Tigers in 2011, Flynn was sent to Miami with Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner last summer for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez. Flynn sped through the minors, posting a 3.29 ERA in 67 starts at four different levels. He struck out 7.6 batters per nine, walked 2.7 and most impressively allowed just 21 home runs in 380 2/3 innings.

5. Fish food
The Phillies are 10-4 this season against the Marlins, who’ve hit .209/.272/.320 in those 14 games, with an average of 2.8 runs per game.

The Phils have a 2.54 ERA against Miami, and if you remove Halladay from the equation that number is an even 2.00.

The Phillies have also won six straight over the Fish.