With the Philadelphia Phillies failing to qualify for postseason play, largely just two things remain for the club to accomplish, or better put, avoid, this season.
Sitting at a 2019 record of 80-80, and a franchise all-time record of 9,824-10,999, a Phillies win in their second-to-last game of the season on Saturday against the Miami Marlins would avoid their seventh straight losing season (guaranteeing they cannot lose 82 games), and their 11,000th-ever loss overall.
To avoid this, the Phillies will start one of their more reliable starting pitchers this season, RHP Zach Eflin, who is 9-13 with a 4.16 ERA and 123 strikeouts. Over his last seven starts, the right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.13 ERA. Right-hander Aaron Nola, on the other hand, finished his season going 0-4 with a 5.27 ERA over his last seven starts — all of which resulted in Phillies losses.
The last time the Phillies finished with a record of .500 or better was in 2012, going 81-81 in their last full season with Charlie Manuel as manager.
On Saturday, Eflin will oppose Marlins southpaw Caleb Smith, who is 10-10 with a 4.31 ERA and 167 strikeouts this season in 150 1/3 innings. Smith, who has a 5.03 road ERA, is coming off of a victory against the New York Mets at Citi Field in which he yielded a grand slam in six innings of work.
Twenty one of Smith's 31 home runs surrendered in 2019 have been at opposing ballparks. Rhys Hoskins (29) and Scott Kingery (19) will surely look to reach 30 and 20 home runs respectively in the contest. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.
The Phillies nearly reached their 11,000th all-time loss on Friday, had it not been for Adam Haseley's walk-off fielder's choice grounder that resulted in an error in the 15th inning.
The #Phillies won in 15 innings on a walk-off error. They last won on a walk-off error on June 3, 2015, against the Reds.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) September 28, 2019
The win, which took 5 hours and 13 minutes, snapped their six-game losing streak, having previously won a game last Saturday against the playoff-hopeful Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field behind Bryce Harper's go-ahead, three-run home run. The Phillies are currently 8-9 against the Marlins this season, a decline from winning 11 of 19 meetings last season.
The club will wrap up its season Sunday afternoon as a likely bullpen game. The Phillies must sweep the Marlins to avoid their eighth straight season without a winning record. And, even if Eflin fends off loss Nos. 81 and 11,000 on Saturday, there's no saying they could not come in the season finale.