Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins game preview
MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins bench -- if nothing else -- is looking formidable.
On Tuesday night, the slumping Marlins lost 4-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the Marlins' fifth loss in a row and their 10th in 11 games, a slide that has knocked Miami (68-71) -- at least for the moment -- out of serious contention for an NL wild-card playoff consideration.
Earlier Tuesday, the Marlins activated right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (groin) and first baseman Justin Bour (ankle) from the disabled list.
Initially, they will be used as pinch hitters, giving the Marlins a super strong bench.
Asked about Stanton, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he wasn't sure what to expect.
"Are we going to see him in the field playing nine innings or are we going to have him coming off the bench for an at-bat?" Mattingly said. "Hopefully, he makes it all the way back to where we do see him on the field."
In addition to Stanton and Bour, a third middle-of-the-order Marlins slugger, center fielder Marcell Ozuna, could be back by Wednesday's series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Since rosters can expand to up to 40 players after Sept. 1, Mattingly could have those three plus speedy pinch runner Yefri Perez on his bench. Others on his bench on Tuesday included Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Dietrich joining Bour on the left side, and switch-hitter Tomas Telis.
From the right side, Ozuna would join Chris Johnson, Robert Andino and Jeff Mathis.
"It sure makes my (lineup) card look better," Mattingly said.
That bench played a role in a Marlins comeback Tuesday night that ultimately fell short but was still dangerous. Trailing 4-0, the Marlins scored one in the fifth, two in the eighth and had two runners on in the ninth.
Phillies manager said the expanded rosters make September baseball difficult on him.
"It's tough," Mackanin said. "I don't like it. It's really not a normal game. ... When you have so many players, there are so many possible moves you can make. ... You can't match up."
Bench play aside, the Marlins need their starters to do their jobs. That would include Wednesday's scheduled starting pitcher Andrew Cashner, who is 4-11 with a 5.00 ERA this season.
Cashner, acquired by the Marlins on July 28 in what so far has been a disaster of a trade with the San Diego Padres, cost Miami three players, including their top hitting prospect and a potential future closer.
In return, the Marlins have received a pitcher who has been 0-4 with a 5.57 ERA since joining Miami.
Cashner recently told media members that he "hates" Miami's no-beard policy. He is a free agent after this season, and he actually said that will be a factor in him possibly leaving Miami.
For his part, Mattingly admitted that the policy doesn't "make us better or more disciplined, but it's just who we want to be as an organization."
Yet, while beards are banned, tattoos, for example are tolerated. The Marlins have no problems drafting or signing a player with a tattoo, but beards for reasons they can't logically explain are not part of what the organizational concept.
The irony of all this is that the way Cashner has pitched, the Marlins may not want him back -- beard or not.
On the other side Wednesday night, the Phillies will start right-hander Jeremy Hellickson. He is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts against Miami this season.
Overall this season, he is 10-8 with a 3.88 ERA. He is on pace to record his lowest ERA since 2012, when he was at 3.10. He is also on pace for 32 starts, which will be one more than his previous career high, set in 2012 and 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays.