After splitting a four game series with the Washington Nationals (winning the last two), the Miami Marlins (20-17) continue their road tour of the NL East, this time heading into Philadelphia to face the Phillies (22-16) for three. The Phillies, you may recall, bested the Marlins at home earlier this month two games to one.
Why are the Phillies good, you may wonder? Well the short answer is that they're not. Run differential isn't an end all, be all stat, of course (no such stat exists), but it has historically been a pretty good indication that a team with an otherwise decent record is, in actuality, smoke and mirrors. The Phillies are currently trotting a -30 run differential out there. There are three teams with worse run differentials in the National League, and they're all well below .500.
We can definitively see that their offense has been quite wretched on the whole. Their pitching, on the other hand, bolstered by young guns Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola, has been pretty darn good. An optimistic Phillies fan might tell you that their offense is going to improve and balance things out, but I think it more likely that this team is closer to what everyone thought it was coming into the year: A work in progress. That doesn't mean they can't and won't be competitive for quite some time before falling back to Earth, which will be annoying for the Marlins, who could've used that second team to beat up on in the division.
In the meanwhile, we must acknowledge that the Phillies have been playing some winning baseball, going 8-6 for the month of May after going 15-11 in April. They own three straight series wins on the road, besting the Cincinnati Reds most recently in a three game series two games to one, though they lost last night in an ugly one.