TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.
WATCH IT LIVE ON FOX SPORTS GO
MIAMI — The Miami Marlins aren’t very good this year, but they still have a knack of beating big-time pitchers.
The Marlins, in last place in the National League East with a 40-57 record, have this year beaten three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Philadelphia Phillies Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom.
On Saturday, the Marlins beat Phillies first-time All-Star Aaron Nola (12-3).
The Marlins won’t face another All-Star pitcher on Sunday, but Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin has been one of baseball’s hottest starters since June 1, going 6-0 with a 2.32 ERA during that span.
Miami will counter with hard-throwing right-hander Jose Urena (2-9, 4.13 ERA), who has pitched better lately. In his past 15 starts, Urena has posted a 3.96 ERA. He is 1-3 with a 4.54 ERA in 10 games, six of them starts, against the Phillies.
If the Marlins are able to win, they would enter the All-Star break having won two consecutive series against first-place teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Phillies.
The Marlins got just four hits in Saturday’s 2-0 win, but half of those came off the bat of veteran third baseman Martin Prado, who heaped praised on the pitcher he faced.
“Nola is becoming one of the best pitchers in the game,” said Prado, who went 2-for-4 with one RBI. “To be able to adjust and have good approaches against him is a tough task, but we took advantage of that first inning (two runs). He wasn’t commanding his fastball (early), but he is a guy who, along the way, gets better.”
The same can be said for the Marlins, who started the season 5-17 but have been playing nearly .500 ball for half the season, which isn’t bad given that this is a young team.
Philadelphia (53-41), meanwhile, is in first place in the National League East, and the Phillies would love to head into the break having won this series.
Eflin (7-2, 3.15) is a hard thrower with an average fastball of 94.6 mph, and he will be pitching four hours from home. The 24-year-old is a native Floridian from Orlando.
A former first-round pick (No. 33 overall) of the San Diego Padres, Eflin is having a breakthrough season.
Eflin is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two career starts versus the Marlins.
The Phillies’ offense, on the other hand, has struggled at times this year. They rank 21st of 30 major-league teams in runs.
Philadelphia has scored just two runs in two games in this series, and the Phillies were also shut out by the New York Mets on Wednesday.
Phillies president Andy MacPhail, who spoke to the media before Saturday’s game, said he is nonetheless pleased with where his team is one game before the All-Star break, even if they are short a big bat or two on offense.
“I was hoping we would make meaningful and measurable progress this year,” MacPhail said. “I think what we’ve done to this point exceeds meaningful and measurable progress.
“This is beyond my expectations. We are now prying open the window of contention for the first time in six years. Our stated goal from ownership is to sustain success and not be a one-and-out-type thing.”