Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies game preview
PHILADELPHIA — As Ryan Howard’s time in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform counts down, fans are going to see more of the former MVP at Citizens Bank Park.
Howard has been platooning with fellow first baseman Tommy Joseph for the majority of the season, and Joseph has been getting most of the starts lately. But manager Pete Mackanin said Thursday he plans to use Howard in all three games against the Marlins — a series which starts Friday night at 7:05 p.m. in Philadelphia.
"I spoke to Joseph and Howard. Joseph will play today and Howie’s going to play the next three unless we see a lefty," Mackanin said. "I re-thought that and decided that Howie is going to play a little bit more because this is possibly his last year here."
Howard is in his final year of a five-year, $125 million deal, and he has just eight home games left with the Phillies. Mackanin added he wants Howard to also play in the final three when the Phillies close out their season against the Mets at home on Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
A three-time All-Star, Howard is the last remaining piece of the Phillies 2008 World Series team still on the roster. Philadelphia fans have seen Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz all traded in the last two seasons. Mackanin is hoping Howard will get a warm send off in what could be his final games at Citizens Bank Park.
"He’s really meant a lot to this organization," Mackanin added.
Howard, 36, has made only eight starts in September. For the season, he has 19 homers and a .678 OPS in 103 games. Meanwhile, Joseph has had a solid rookie campaign, belting 19 homers in his first 92 major league games.
The Marlins are scheduled to throw three right-handed pitchers in the weekend series, starting with Tom Koehler on Friday.
Koehler (9-11, 3.97 ERA) will be making his 30th start of the season, his fifth of which has come against the Phillies. In his first four outings against Philadelphia in 2016, Koehler is 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA and has gone at least seven innings in three of them.
Koehler was not so sharp his last time out, allowing four earned runs and three homers in five innings against the Dodgers.
The Marlins, who were off Thursday, enter the series in fourth-place in the National League Wild Card race. The Marlins are on a two-game winning streak, and at 73-73, they can’t afford many losses in their remaining 16 games.
"Obviously, it was a big game because every win is big," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told MLB.com after his team beat the Braves on Wednesday.
The Marlins will be facing Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan (2-10, 5.73 ERA). Morgan shut down the Marlins earlier in the month, holding them to one run on five hits in six innings on Sept. 5.
Morgan has gone at least six innings in each of his last three starts and has a 2.41 ERA and 0.696 WHIP in that span.