Phillies-Marlins: What you need to know

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Phillies-Marlins: What you need to know

Phillies (28-25) vs. Miami Marlins (29-23)
4:05 p.m. on CSN
Jonathan Papelbon picked up five huge outs for his first save of more than one inning as a Phillie in Fridays rain-soaked, 6-4 win over the Marlins.

The victory significantly tightened the NL East, where the last-place Phils are just 2 games behind the Nationals and 1 behind the Mets and Marlins for second place.

But the win wasnt without costs (see story). Jose Contreras became the Phillies latest DL victim, suffering an elbow injury after one pitch in a situation Charlie Manuel said looked pretty bad.

Contreras joins 10 other Phillies currently on the disabled list in Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Vance Worley, Jim Thome, Laynce Nix, David Herndon, Michael Stutes, Justin De Fratus and Michael Martinez.

Shane Victorino also missed Fridays game after getting a cortisone shot in the area of his right index finger. Victorino could be ready for Saturdays game and said he only feels the injury when batting lefthanded, the side from which he is a .224 hitter this season (compared to .340 from the right side).
Starting pitchers
Cole Hamels (8-1, 2.43 ERA) gives the Phillies a great chance to make it eight wins in their last 10 games. Hell take on Marlins righthander Ricky Nolasco, who is 5-3 with a 4.26 ERA.

Hamels has been brilliant in 2012. If the season ended today hed be a prime Cy Young candidate. Hamels leads the NL in wins, is second in strikeouts and second (to Cliff Lee) in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Hamels has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last five starts and hasnt lost since the Phillies home opener against the Marlins. In that game, Hamels allowed Miami four runs (three earned) on eight hits over 5 13 innings.

Since then, Hamels is 8-0 with a 2.22 ERA.

Nolasco has been his typical self in 2012 solid peripheral numbers but middling results. Th 29-year-old righty has five quality starts in 10 tries and has lost three of his last four times out.

For one reason or another, Nolasco has only eclipsed 100 pitches three times this season. For comparisons sake, Hamels has done it eight times.

Current Phillies are hitting just .232 off Nolasco, but they have 11 home runs, including three from Hunter Pence and two from Jimmy Rollins.

Nolasco allowed four runs in six innings to the Phils last September, but absolutely dominated them in his four prior starts to the tune of a 1.53 ERA in 29 13 innings.

Note of interest
The Phillies are 21-7 against the Marlins in their last 28 meetings and a win Saturday would make them 9-1-1 against Miami in the last 11 series.
Key matchup(s)
Nolasco vs. Pence has been a feast-or-famine matchup. Pence only has four hits in 21 at-bats, but three are bombs.

Giving Victorino another day off might make sense. He is 4 for 29 (.138) with one walk and six strikeouts against Nolasco.

Hamels will face nemesis Jose Reyes, who, unluckily for the Phillies, is really starting to get going. Reyes is hitting .372 over a 12-game hitting streak and is 15 for 42 (.357) lifetime off Hamels.

Hamels has confused Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton and the Phils will need that to continue for him to win his ninth game of the season. Ramirez and Stanton have struck out in exactly one-third (24) of their at-bats (72).

Ramirez has never homered off Hamels, but 10 of his 14 hits are doubles.

Sound off
Which Marlins hitter do you fear most with a runner in scoring position?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

The final eight games remaining on the Phillies’ 2016 schedule will undoubtedly serve as a farewell to Ryan Howard.

Lost in the background may be the fact this week could quite possibly be the end for the man who was supposed to platoon alongside him this year, as well: Darin Ruf.

Both men have been supplanted by Tommy Joseph, who's hit 21 home runs in just 100 games this year while positioning himself as the Phillies first baseman of the near future.

Ruf will start Saturday night against Mets’ lefthander Sean Gilmartin. The Phillies are not scheduled to face a lefty starter for the rest of the season, so Saturday could be one of the final chances to see Ruf in a Phillies uniform, especially considering manager Pete Mackanin’s stated intent to give Howard more playing time down the stretch.

“It seemed like we never faced a lefty for the first month of the season. So that didn’t help Ruf at the time,” Mackanin said.  “Joseph entered the picture and made an immediate impression.”

Ruf’s departure from the majors set the stage for Joseph’s immediate emergence. At the time of his May 13 demotion to AAA Lehigh Valley – and Joseph’s promotion -- Ruf was had a .158/.206/.193 slash line.
  
Since his Sept. 1 return to the majors after rosters expanded, Ruf has done what he can to make sure his possible final season in a Phillies uniform ends on a high note. On Friday night, he drilled a home run to left center off Mets reliever Josh Smoker in pinch-hit duty, the first time Ruf had gone yard since Oct. 1, 2015.

“It felt good,” Ruf said about ending his home run drought. “You just try to simply things and last night it worked out for me.”

Where Ruf will be next year is a more complicated matter, as the 30-year-old is out of minor league options. Japanese scouts were spotted at the games he played for AAA Lehigh Valley.

With Lehigh Valley, Ruf received an opportunity he’s never truly been able to get with the Phillies due to the longstanding presence of Howard: a chance to play every day and consistently accumulate plate appearances. He hit .294/.356/.529 in 390 trips to the plate for the IronPigs. 

Ruf has never made more than 300 plate appearances in a major league season and would struggle to crack that number if he remains in Philadelphia as a backup to Joseph, who will still be 25 on opening day next year.

“I learned [this year] that you can’t take anything for granted in this game,” Ruf said. “You’ve just got to keep working to get better every day, got to put up numbers no matter where you’re at in order to get to where you want. 

“Hopefully, wherever I’m at next year, I can do that.”

Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Jorge Alfaro is behind the plate for the Phillies tonight and bats eighth. Alfaro has appeared in just four games since being called up earlier this month, and has just one hit in 10 at-bats. 

Tommy Joseph is back in the lineup and batting fifth. Pete Mackanin has said that Ryan Howard would get a lot of playing time during the last few games, but it is Joseph who gets the start tonight. Joseph is batting just .154 against the Mets this season. 

Odubel Herrera, who has been hitting well in September, will remain in the three spot. He has two homers and is batting .391 over the past week. Herrera has two hits in six at-bats against Mets' starter Sean Gilmartin. 

Phillies

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, RF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF 
4. Maikel Franco, 3B 
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Darin Ruf, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Alec Asher, P