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PHILADELPHIA -- A rough September has all but eliminated the Miami Marlins from the National League wild-card race. Not even major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton and his 54 dingers have been enough.
If the Marlins want to have any chance of making a miracle run to the playoffs, it would take a near-perfect run over the final 19 games of the season to make up their 10 1/2-game deficit behind the Colorado Rockies in the race for the final NL playoff spot.
That starts on Tuesday night as Miami opens a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in a in a matchup that will feature a battle of rookie pitchers.
It is the final head-to-head series of the season between the Marlins (68-75) and Phillies (54-89). The clubs split their first 16 meetings.
Miami entered September just six games back in the playoff picture but is just 2-8 this month. The Marlins dropped three of four at home to the Phillies from Aug. 31-Sept. 3.
Marlins rookie left-hander Dillon Peters, who takes the mound Tuesday night, didn't have many issues with the Phillies in his major league debut on Sept. 1. Though Miami eventually took a 2-1 loss, Peters shut down the Phillies for seven scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking three while allowing three hits.
In his most recent start, Peters (0-1, 2.25 ERA) gave up three runs on six hits in five innings against the Nationals on Wednesday.
"They were coming in ready to swing at the fastball and I was leaving it a lot over the middle of the plate," Peters told the Miami Herald after the Washington game. "You just have to keep chucking away. I just have to keep my head down and keep working and get ready for my next start."
A 10th-round selection out of the University of Texas in 2014, Peters made the jump directly from Double-A Jacksonville to the majors. In 13 minor league starts this season, he was 7-3 with a 1.57 ERA, striking out 55 and giving up 41 hits in 63 innings.
"He may not be that physically imposing," Marlins catcher A.J. Ellis told the Miami Herald about his 5-foot-9 teammate, "but his breaking ball sure has a lot of teeth. It's an angry breaking ball. It gets to the hitting zone and disappears under the bat."
Peters will be opposed by Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta, who will make his 23rd start of the season.
Pivetta has faced the Marlins three times already this season, all since July 19. He is 1-1 with an ugly 7.11 ERA against them, thanks largely to an Aug. 22 outing in which he gave up six runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.
The last time he faced Miami, on Sept. 1 against Peters, Pivetta (5-10, 6.49 ERA) gave up just one run on four hits, striking out six in six innings. Like Peters, his latest start was less successful. Pivetta, 24, gave up 10 hits and six runs in five innings to the New York Mets on Wednesday.
There were just four rookie pitchers since 1901 who started at least 22 games and finished with an ERA at least as high as Pivetta's 6.49 mark.
"I don't think it's anything to panic about," Pivetta said. "I don't want to panic because I'm young. I hate saying it, but I'm young. There's a lot of good things I can build on. I've proved I can build on a lot of good things."