Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Phillies started their final series of the season against the Miami Marlins, this one down in South Florida with wild card positioning on the line for the Fightins. In years past, the Marlins have spelled doom for late season Phillies’ pushes, but not this season. This year, the Phillies have handled the Marlins to the tune of an 11-6 record against the fish, but there has still been a pesky trend with these matchups from Philadelphia’s perspective. The Marlins are not a playoff team, or even particularly close to one, but they do have a superb ace in NL Cy Young candidate Sandy Alcantara. It just so happens that Alcantara has started against the Phils 6 TIMES this year, more than he’s faced any other team, and more than any other starter the Phillies have faced. Strangely enough, it’s largely worked in Rob Thomson’s side’s favor.

Sandy Alcantara has a 2.43 ERA this year with an incredible 1.016 WHIP and 181 strikeouts this season. He’s been dominant throughout the season, and yet, he can’t seem to figure out the Philadelphia Phillies. Of his 6 starts against the Phils, the Marlins have lost 4 of them, which accounts for 33% (4 of 12) of games the Marlins have lost when Alcantara starts this season. Now, Alcantara hasn’t been bad against the Phillies. On the contrary, he’s actually had solid overall numbers in those 6 starts, but the issue has been the adjustments Philadelphia has made to figure him out. In the 7th inning or later this season, Alcantara has only allowed a total of 10 runs all year long. The Phillies have scored 9 of those!!! That’s absolutely preposterous late game work by the Phils, and they seem to be the only team that can figure out Miami’s best arm once he gets his good stuff going. It hasn’t just been team accomplishments either. Nick Maton, who has only gone yard 5 times this season (and 7 times in his career), became the only player in the majors to homer off Alcantara twice this season with his 2 run shot on Tuesday night.

Whether it’s unlikely heroes, or just the team wearing him down, the Phillies have dominated the Marlins’ ace. So, what does it say about this team’s approach? Well, they’re certainly built to be grinders. It hasn’t been that way against every elite pitcher, that’s to be sure, but the way they attack Alcantara late in a game shows that this team is prepared for high-leverage innings against top level arms. There’s certainly something to be said about seeing a guy that you just own and that lending confidence to your lineup, but grinding out at bats plays against every pitcher in Major League Baseball, including those that the Phillies will eventually face in the playoffs. It’s a small part of the equation, but the way that this team has handled Alcantara this year is an encouraging sign for what they could do to elite pitchers in the postseason.