The cardiac Miami Marlins have taken their magic carpet ride right into the postseason, where they’ll look to knock off the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies in this best-of-three Wild Card series. First pitch of Game 1 from Citizens Bank Park is set for 8:07 p.m. ET. The Fish will give the ball to lefty Jesus Luzardo (10-9, 3.63 ERA) in his postseason debut, while Philly counters with ace Zack Wheeler (13-6, 3.61).
The Phillies enter as -162 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Miami at +136. The run total is set at 7.5.
Marlins vs. Phillies Wild Card Game 1 picks: Tuesday, October 3
Day to day: INF Luis Arraez (ankle)
Out: SP Sandy Alcantara (UCL), SP Eury Perez (hip), OF Avisail Garcia (hamstring)
Out: 1B Rhys Hoskins (knee)
Jesus Luzardo vs. Zack Wheeler
Depending on which day you get him, Luzardo can either look like a disaster or one of the very best starters in all of baseball. To be fair, he’s been more the latter than the former of late, with a 2.61 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 41.1 innings over his last seven starts. He’s one of the biggest reasons Miami has gotten to this point, delivering six shutout innings with eight Ks in a huge win over the Braves in mid-September before striking out 10 over 7.1 innings against the Mets in his final start of the season. Luzardo delivered two quality starts in his two matchups with Philly this season, as well. The lefty has a fastball, slider and changeup all capable of dominating on the right day — when he’s not leaving them over the heart of the plate, that is (23rd-percentile barrel rate).
There have been question marks surrounding just about every other member of Philly’s rotation, but Wheeler has been a rock all year — despite dealing with some bad batted-ball luck along the way. (His expected ERA is a tidy 3.18, per Statcast.) He posted 11 quality starts in 14 outings in the second half, with a 3.08 ERA and 93 strikeouts over 87.2 innings, and he’s been dialed in against the Marlins this season, with a 3.00 ERA and three quality starts in three appearances. Wheeler was also excellent during Philly’s run to the World Series last October, with a 2.75 ERA over six starts — just one of which featured more than three runs allowed.
I’m backing the under here. Wheeler against this mediocre (and righty-heavy) Marlins lineup feels like a mismatch, and has indeed played out that way earlier this season. That means it’ll be incumbent upon the Phillies to make up most of the difference in the total here, and while there’s obviously a ton of offensive firepower in that lineup, I trust Luzardo and this Miami bullpen enough to keep things competitive.
Pick: Under 7.5
I do think Miami makes this an interesting series, and if things get tight late, I still have some questions about Craig Kimbrel and this Philly bullpen despite their performance in September. Still, I have the Phillies taking Game 1, as the pitching matchup is largely a wash and I trust Bryce Harper and Co. to deliver just enough run support.
Pick: Phillies -162