The time has finally arrived. After 299 long days, The Phillies (0-0) play regular season baseball again as they host the Miami Marlins (0-0) in the 60-game 2020 season opener at a mostly empty Citizens Bank Park.
In a season many believed would not happen just weeks ago, baseball is back and with an expanded playoff field, now to 16 teams.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm on NBCSP (tv) and WIP (radio) with a forecast that calls for rain early, but should be cleared in time for baseball.
In what will be manager Joe Girardi’s Phillies debut, he will send RHP Aaron Nola to the mound to face 2019 NL All-Star RHP Sandy Alcantara. It is Nola’s third straight Opening Day start, the first Phillies pitcher to accomplish that since the late Roy Halladay from 2010-12. The Phillies went 9-10 against the Marlins in 2019 and will need to fare much better against the Fish if they want to truly compete in 2020.
While Nola’s record against the Marlins last season was 0-2 in three starts, he did pitch to a 2.08 ERA across 21 2/3 innings, racking up 21 strikeouts and keeping opposing hitters to a .231 batting average. In his three starts against the Phillies, Alcantara went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA, striking out 17 in 18 2/3 innings.
SS Didi Gregorius, IF Neil Walker and OF Kyle Garlick have been added to an already potent lineup that should improve even more with the return of starting OF Andrew McCutchen and the universal DH rule that will be used during the 2020 season, clearing more at-bats for IF/OF Jay Bruce and top prospect Alec Bohm. They will try to out-slug an improved Marlins offense that features a few former Phillies in C Jorge Alfaro and the newly acquired OF Corey Dickerson. Miami also benefitted from the acquisitions of OF Jonathan Villar and slugging 1B Jesus Aguilar. This will be a much tougher Marlins lineup for opposing pitchers than in previous seasons.
Girardi will not be the only debuting Phillies coach; pitching coach Bryan Price will be looking to help a much-maligned Phillies staff that added a few big arms this offseason, but more importantly, continue to develop the home grown talent that the team has sorely needed for years.
In a season where more teams than ever will make the playoffs in the shortest campaign since 1878, it is critical the Phillies play their best baseball early; three games against an improved, albeit still basement-dwelling Marlins team is the ideal starting place for a 2020 World Series run.
RHP Seranthony Dominguez is still awaiting Tommy John Surgery
RHP David Robertson is expected to miss a majority of the season after Tommy John Surgery in 2019
LHP Ranger Suarez did not report to Phillies Summer Camp (undisclosed)
UPDATE: The lineup has been released. Ring the bell.