Riding a four-game winning streak, the Phillies welcome the Miami Marlins to Philadelphia for a three-game series beginning tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Vince Velasquez is set to take the mound for the Phillies, still seeking his first win of the season and aiming to build off a no-decision last week against the Mets where he tossed six innings while giving up three runs on five hits.

"I need to pitch deeper into games and be more effective when it comes to pitch count," Velasquez said last week. "I feel like I'm getting there, but there's still work to be done."

The Marlins counter with lefty Wei-Yin Chen who last week tossed seven shutout innings without surrendering a hit in a contest with the Mariners. He tossed 100 pitches, 64 for strikes.

The Calendar 
Aside from their opening series in Cincinnati, the Phillies have played 15 of 18 contests against NL East rivals. That will change later this week though as the club heads west for a weekend series with the Dodgers before stopping in Chicago for a series with the Cubs. It's far too early to talk about must-win games, but this series with the Marlins could set the tone for a difficult road trip.

Staff Issues
The Phillies placed Aaron Nola on the disabled list Monday with a lower-back strain, meaning the club will likely have to make a roster move to secure a starter to take Nola's spot for Wednesday's contest. The injury is not believed to be serious and Nola likely will only miss one or two starts.

Identical Record, Different Team
At this very point last year the Phillies sported the same 9-9 record they have now, but the run differential in 2016 was a -23. This year, the Phillies have a +7 run differential and seem better equipped on both sides of the ball, specifically on offense where the lineup has demonstrated patience at the plate - ranking fifth in pitches per plate appearance at 3.98.

Be on the Lookout
Giancarlo Stanton is hot, going 9-for-17 over his last four games with four homers, seven RBIs, two walks and one strikeout.

Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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