Miami natives Manny Machado and Nick Martinez are coming home for three days. Jorge Alfaro will have a homecoming, too.
Those are among the storylines for a three-game series that begins on Monday night between the visiting San Diego Padres -- home of Machado, Martinez and Alfaro -- and the struggling Miami Marlins.
Machado is San Diego's most established superstar, a prized free-agent signing ahead of the 2019 season predating the emergence of shortstop Fernando Tatis and the more recent acquisition of outfielder Juan Soto.
The 30-year-old third baseman is a six-time All-Star. He also won Gold Glove awards in 2013 and 2015.
Martinez, a 32-year-old reliever and spot starter, is having the best season of his career as evidenced by his 3.24 ERA. He is 3-3 in 27 appearances, including 17 in relief.
Alfaro, 29, played three years for the Marlins (2019-2021). Alfaro had a career year for the Marlins in 2019 with 18 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .736 OPS.
On Monday, Machado, Soto and the Padres' heavy-hitting lineup will face Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara (10-5, 2.01 ERA), the favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award.
Alcantara has 17 quality starts in 23 outings this year. The Marlins are 14-9 when he starts.
In his one start against the Padres this year, Alcantara took a loss on May 6, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. But in two career starts against the Padres, Alcantara is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA.
The Padres, who are coming off a 6-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday, are set to start right-hander Joe Musgrove (8-5, 2.91). The Padres are 13-7 this year when starting Musgrove.
Musgrove, who leads Padres starters in ERA, has 15 quality starts out of his 20 appearances, making him a model of consistency.
In his most recent appearance last Tuesday, Musgrove allowed just one run in seven innings, beating the San Francisco Giants 7-4. He was supported by two homers -- one each by Soto and Machado, the latter a three-run walk-off blast.
"Manny (has) got a flair for the dramatic," Padres manager Bob Melvin said that night.
Musgrove isn't quite as flashy, but he has been particularly good in four career starts against the Marlins, going 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA.
The Padres have a 32-28 road record this year, which compares favorably to Miami's 23-32 home mark.
Home or road, the Marlins haven't won consecutive games since July 13-14. Since then, they have lost 20 of 27 games. They've lost 13 of their last 14 home contests, including being swept by the Atlanta Braves in four games this weekend.
The Marlins have also scored three runs or fewer for the 15th straight game, the longest such streak since the 1979 Chicago Cubs.
With the season considered lost, the Marlins have started yet another youth movement, with the front office asking manager Don Mattingly to play rookies ahead of some veterans in order to assess the organization's emerging talent.
"It's frustrating, honestly, but just because it's happened multiple years," Mattingly said. "When it happens one time, you know what you're going through.
"But when it becomes multiple years of doing that, it's pretty frustrating to be doing it again. It's hard."
--Field Level Media