After pulling off seemingly their 75th wildly improbable comeback win of the season on Wednesday, the Miami Marlins (58-51) now look to salvage a split of their four-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies (58-50). First pitch of Thursday’s finale is set for 12:10 p.m. ET from loanDepot Park in Miami. Newly acquired righty Michael Lorenzen (5-7, 3.58 ERA) will make his first start for the Phils, while veteran Johnny Cueto (0-2, 5.06) gets the ball for the Marlins.
Philly took the first two games of this crucial series, but another bullpen meltdown — in the wake of GM Dave Dombrowksi’s failure to add a reliever at the trade deadline — cost them game three on Wednesday afternoon. Philly is now just a half-game in front of the Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers in the crowded NL Wild Card race. They’ll head back home after this for a weekend set with the Kansas City Royals.
Miami somehow just keeps on finding ways to steal wins, scoring in the eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th innings yesterday. Despite a -24 run differential, they’re currently occupying the third and final Wild Card spot, although a weekend series against the Rangers in Texas will be a stern test.
Philly enters as -130 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Marlins coming in at +110. The run total is set at 8.5.
Phillies-Marlins picks: Thursday, August 3
Out: RP Jose Alvarado (elbow), OF Christian Pache (elbow)
Out: OF Jazz Chisholm (oblique), RP Andrew Nardi (tricep)
Michael Lorenzen vs. Johnny Cueto
Acquired from the Detroit Tigers at the deadline for infield prospect Hao-Yu Lee, Lorenzen is set to make his Philadelphia debut on Thursday. The righty was in the midst of a very solid season, and he was sensational in July, with three scoreless outings and just three total runs allowed across 23.2 innings. He doesn’t have the flashiest arsenal, but he fills the strike zone and effectively changes speeds and eye levels with his fastball (.178 BA against), changeup (.167 BA against) and slider.
What’s gotten into Cueto? The 37-year-old has turned back the clock since returning from the IL last month, with a 3.00 ERA and 0.67 WHIP across three starts. His command has been outstanding — look at how precisely he’s spotting his four-seam fastball up at the edge of the strike zone:
That location has made his legendary changeup even more effective, as batters are hitting just .125 against the pitch this year.
Yesterday’s game saw 17 runs scored, but that required some serious bullpen shenanigans: 10 of those 17 runs came in the eighth inning or later. The first two games of this series saw totals of 6 and 4, respectively, and given the quality of these two starters of late — and how much these lineups have struggled against right-handed pitching this season — I’m backing the under again on Thursday.
Pick: Under 8.5
The Marlins snatched victory from the jaws of defeat yesterday in just about as improbable a fashion as you’ll see, but I’m betting on that luck running out on Thursday. Lorenzen has been very good against middling offenses this season, and Philly’s offensive talent has to click eventually, right?