(Photo credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports)
If last year's success was any indication of what the Philadelphia Phillies can do with a wild-card berth, the Miami Marlins could be in some serious trouble.
Philadelphia will look to replicate its playoff run from a season ago, and it will begin its journey on Tuesday when it hosts Miami in Game 1 of a best-of-three National League wild-card series.
The Phillies are coming off a 90-72 finish in the regular season that allowed them to lock down the NL's top wild-card position after grabbing the third and final spot in 2022.
While it might not have been presented with the most favorable draw last year, Philadelphia thrived, going all the way to the World Series and coming within two wins of its first championship since 2008.
But what's in the past is in the past, and the Phillies know they have to prove themselves once again.
"Nothing is going to be easy," Philadelphia designated hitter Kyle Schwarber said. "They're all really good teams in the postseason. Miami is a really good team. We've got to do what we do."
Right-hander Zack Wheeler (13-6, 3.61 ERA) will look to help the Phillies get off to a fast start when he takes the mound for Game 1.
Wheeler made his final start of the regular season on Thursday, allowing one run on four hits in four innings to take a no-decision against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 22 career starts against the Marlins, Wheeler is 10-4 with a 2.48 ERA. He has never faced Miami in the postseason, where he has gone 1-3 with 2.78 ERA in six starts overall.
Left-hander Jesus Luzardo (10-9, 3.63) will get the start for the Marlins, who went 84-77 to grab the NL's second wild card.
In his last outing of the regular season, Luzardo gave up one run on four hits in 7 1/3 innings against the New York Mets on Thursday. He didn't earn a decision, though, as the game was suspended in the ninth and never made up.
Luzardo is 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA in five career starts against the Phillies. He hasn't faced Philadelphia in the playoffs, where he has struggled, going 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in three appearances (two starts).
Miami finds itself in unfamiliar territory, as it heads to the playoffs in a regulation-length season for the first time since 2003 when they won the World Series as the Florida Marlins. The team didn't return to the postseason until the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
Although Miami will be thrown into a hostile environment right out of the gate, manager Skip Schumaker believes his team is ready for the challenge.
"This is one of the better places to play, just because the fans are so passionate," Schumaker said of Philadelphia, where he faced the Phillies in the NL Division Series in 2011 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. "It's a special place.
"If you don't have a little bit of nerves, that means you don't care. ... I know that these guys are really excited, they'll probably be a little bit nervous, and that's OK, but I think there's more excitement than nerves."
Schumaker said second baseman Luis Arraez, the NL batting champion, should be good to go for Game 1 after being hampered by an ankle injury.
Arraez hit .354 during the regular season.
--Field Level Media