After sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the National League Wild Card Series, the Marlins are looking to keep that momentum going against a familiar foe.
Making its first playoff appearance since 2003, Miami will begin a five-game series on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves in the NL Divisional Series. First pitch for Game 1 is scheduled for 2:08 p.m from Houston, Texas. The game will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 1.
Meeting in the postseason for the first time since 1997, the Marlins and Braves will battle for the right to face either the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Diego Padres in the National League Championship Series.
This season, the Marlins held their own against the Braves, finishing 4-6 in their 10 regular-season meetings. In one of those losses, though, Miami set an NL record for most runs allowed in a game, falling 29-9.
Heading into divisional series, Marlins manager Don Mattingly continues to feel confident about his team, citing the team’s strong starting pitching in a short five-game series.
“I think we understand how good they are and we have respect for them, but we think we can beat anybody quite honestly,” Mattingly said. "So if my guys go out there and Sandy [Alcantara] gives you a good game tomorrow keeps us in it, we’re able to put some runs up, why not?
“We’re as good as anybody. That’s saying that with respect for these teams, but we are getting closer and I think they know we’re getting closer. That doesn’t mean they have any fear of us, but I think we definitely know were getting better as an organization.”
One of the keys in Miami’s sweep over the Cubs was its dominant starting pitching. In the two games, Alcantara (3.00 ERA) and Sixto Sanchez (3.46 ERA) combined to allow just one earned run in 11 2/3 innings. Once again, the Marlins will rely on those two right-handers against the Braves. Alcantara will pitch Game 1, while Sanchez will start Game 3. Pablo Lopez (3.61 ERA) will take the mound in Game 2.
The Braves are countering with Max Fried (2.25 ERA), Ian Anderson (1.95) and Kyle Wright (5.21) in the first three games.
Mattingly said they haven’t determined who would pitch in Game 4 or 5 should the series advance that far.
Lopez was scheduled to pitch Game 3 of the Cubs' series, but Miami finished off the series in two games. As a result, Lopez will be making his first start since Sept. 24, when he pitched five shutout innings against the Braves. Considering the layoff, Mattingly decided to plug Lopez into Game 2 so Sanchez could have an extra day of rest.
No decision yet on Marte
With Game 1 rapidly approaching, the Marlins will have to make a decision regarding injured outfielder Starling Marte. One of Miami’s most reliable hitters, Marte suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left fifth metacarpal after being plunked on the left hand last Wednesday in the team’s Game 1 victory over the Cubs.
Marte sat out Game 2 and is still recovering from the injury. On Monday, Mattingly said the center fielder was still receiving treatment, but admitted they’ll have to make a decision on whether to include him on the divisional series roster. Mattingly said they wait right up until the 10 a.m. deadline on Tuesday to make a final call.
“Right now, he’s continuing to get treatment and trying more and more things,” Mattingly said. “He’s able to do more yesterday. We’ll see what he does today. He’s the one who has to let us know what he feels he can do and then we’ll have to make a decision on if that’s enough to keep him on the roster.”
Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline, Marte hit .281/.340/.430 with 14 doubles, six home runs and 10 stolen bases during the regular season. In Miami’s Game 1 win over the Cubs, he finished 2 for 4 with a double and run scored.
With Marte sidelined in Game 2, Magneuris Sierra took his spot in center field.
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