The Phillies’ 10-game homestand continues Friday night as they welcome the Miami Marlins to Citizens Bank Park for their first divisional series of the season.
The Phils (3-6) were swept and completely dominated by the Brewers from Tuesday to Thursday, losing three games by a combined score of 25-10.
It doesn’t get much easier this weekend. Miami (5-5) has gotten off to a hot start offensively and has its ace on the mound for the series opener, which airs at 7:05 p.m. on The Comcast Network.
Jose Fernandez was an All-Star and the NL Rookie of the Year in 2013, and through two starts this season he looks like the frontrunner for the Cy Young award.
Fernandez is 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA. He’s allowed 10 baserunners in 12 2/3 innings while striking out 17.
In exactly 30 big-league starts, Fernandez is 14-6 with a 2.09 ERA. Since opening day 2013, Fernandez ranks second in the NL to Clayton Kershaw in ERA and WHIP (0.97). Fernandez also leads the NL in strikeouts per nine innings (9.91) and opponents’ batting average (.179).
The Phillies couldn’t touch Fernandez last season. They went 8 for 62 (.129) against him with one extra-base hit. Fernandez allowed one run (a solo homer to Delmon Young) to the Phils in 18 innings of work.
The Phils should be prepared to see a 95 mph fastball, one of the majors’ best curveballs, and a changeup. Fernandez’s opponents have hit .115 against the curve and .173 against the changeup in the majors.
Good A.J. or bad A.J.?
The Phillies have already seen both versions of A.J. Burnett in his two starts.
In the second game of the season in Texas, Burnett allowed one run over six solid innings. Then against the Cubs last Sunday, he walked six batters, put 12 men on base and allowed eight runs, four of which were earned.
That’s what the Phils should expect from Burnett -- a bunch of dominant starts in which he looks unhittable and misses bats all night, but a handful of starts in which he can’t locate anything.
This will be Burnett’s first-ever start at Citizens Bank Park as a Phillie, but he’s quite familiar with the stadium. In eight career appearances at CBP (seven starts), Burnett is 3-3 with a 4.71 ERA. He’s made just two starts here in the last five seasons.
It will be just his third-ever start against the Marlins, the team Burnett broke into the majors with and made 131 starts for over seven seasons.
The Phillies hit .233/.313/.340 in the Brewers series with eight extra-base hits.
The Brewers hit .322/.357/.568 with 17 extra-base hits.
Since scoring 14 runs in the season opener, the Phils have averaged 3.38 runs per game. They scored 21 runs combined in their series openers in Texas and Chicago, but have scored just 20 runs total in their other seven games.
Giancarlo Stanton has started almost as well as Fernandez. In 10 games, Stanton is hitting .293 with three doubles, two homers, a league-leading 13 RBIs, four walks and two steals. He’s finally healthy, which is good for the Marlins and frightening for every other National League team.
Stanton has never really hit in this ballpark, but that’s more so because he was facing Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in his first two seasons. In 110 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park, Stanton has hit .230 with a .300 OBP and five homers.
He’s never faced Burnett.
Catch the ball
The Marlins are last in the National League with 11 errors and the Phillies are third-worst defensively with 10.
Burnett will need his infield defense to be on top of its game, as he’s one of the foremost groundballers in the major leagues. In recent days Cody Asche has committed two errors, and Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have also missed balls that led to important runs.
Miami’s main culprit has been second baseman Derek Dietrich (three errors), who is filling in until veteran Rafael Furcal returns.
But for all of Miami’s defensive issues, the Phillies must be careful when taking an extra base on the Marlins’ outfield. Stanton and Marcell Ozuna have two of the strongest arms in the game. Ozuna had eight outfield assists last season in just 69 games.