After getting a dominant performance from Zack Wheeler in Game 1, the Philadelphia Phillies are now just one win away from their second straight Division Series appearance as they take on the Miami Marlins in Game 2 of this best-of-three NL Wild Card series on Wednesday night. Miami will give the ball to lefty Braxton Garrett (9-7, 3.66 ERA), while Aaron Nola (12-9, 4.46) looks to get back on track for the Phils after a disappointing regular season. First pitch from what should be a raucous Citizens Bank Park is set for 8:08 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Philly enters as -162 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Marlins at +136. The run total is set at 8.
Marlins vs. Phillies Wild Card Game 2 picks: Wednesday, October 4
Out: SP Sandy Alcantara (UCL), SP Eury Perez (hip), OF Avisail Garcia (hamstring)
Out: 1B Rhys Hoskins (knee)
Braxton Garrett vs. Aaron Nola
An 11-run demolition at the hands of the Atlanta Braves back in May — who, in fairness, have done that to a lot of pitchers this season — may be obscuring just how good Garrett has been for the Marlins this season. With that start removed, his ERA drops all the way to 3.13 and his WHIP to 1.075, numbers more in line with how consistent he was on a start-by-start basis. The lefty posted an ERA of 3.18 or lower in four of six months this year, with two or fewer runs allowed in 20 of his 30 starts (and three or fewer allowed in 25 of 30). The introduction of a cutter was a huge difference for Garrett, a pitch he didn’t throw at all last year that allowed him to attack righties far more effectively. (Right-handed batters had an OPS of .749 against him this season, still not great but a major improvement over the .802 mark he posted in 2022.) He allowed three runs over five innings of work in his one previous start against Philly this season.
Nola has the pedigree to take the ball with confidence in this spot, but he was a disaster in his final three postseason starts last year and has struggled through a tremendously disappointing campaign in 2023 — every time he takes a step forward, it seems like it’s followed by two steps backwards. The righty allowed four or more runs in nearly half of the 32 starts he made this season, including in all three of his starts against Miami: four runs on nine hits over 5.2 innings in April, five runs (four earned) on eight hits over six innings July and four runs on seven hits in just 4.1 innings in September.
The Phillies manufactured four runs off an equally tough (heck, maybe tougher) lefty in Jesus Luzardo last night, as their cavalcade of tough right-handed hitters continue to wear people out. Nola, meanwhile, has been knocked around by Miami all year, and with the Marlins needing a win to keep their season alive, I expect them to come out swinging and push us over this total.
Pick: Over 8
Maybe this is putting too much faith in Miami’s late-season magic, but I think the Marlins force a Game 3 on Thursday night. They clearly match up very well against Nola, who isn’t throwing the ball with a ton of confidence right now, and I still have a bit more faith in Miami’s bullpen than I do Philly’s if it comes to that. If Garrett can pitch the way he has all year, I think the Marlins can absolutely steal this game — which makes them more than worth the risk at these odds.
Pick: Marlins +136