The final wild card series of the 2023 MLB playoffs to begin pits the Philadelphia Phillies against the Miami Marlins. The league’s primetime matchup for the opening round, it's the only series that features opponents from the same division. The NL East is one of two divisions to send three teams to the playoffs, but one team will head home following this three-game series in Philadelphia.

The Phillies enter the playoffs with more confidence than they did entering last year. They march into the playoffs rather than sneak in and are expected to advance after winning the pennant last year and tallying 90 wins during the regular season. Philly will play host for the entire series as the top wild card team and fourth seed in the National League.

The Marlins reached the postseason in a full season for the first time since winning the World Series in 2003. They made the 16-team playoffs in 2020, pulling off an upset in their wild card series against the Chicago Cubs. Miami went 17-10 since the start of September and jumped four teams during the final month of the regular season to claim a playoff berth.

If last season's wild card series is any indication, we should expect the unexpected in a series like this. Three of the four road teams, including a sixth-seeded Phillies squad, won their wild card series. The Marlins are hoping to join that club while the Phillies want to jumpstart their playoff run with a comfortable series win at home.

4. Marlins win Game 1

The Marlins enter the series as underdogs but won the season series against the Phillies seven games to six. That included four wins in six games at Citizens Bank Park, showing that Miami is not too shaken but the wiley Philadelphia crowd.

Jesus Luzardo started one of those wins in Philly and he'll get the ball for the Marlins in Game 1 on Tuesday. The crafty lefty started two games against the Phillies this season, winning both as he tossed two quality starts with 14 strikeouts. He has a career 3.26 ERA in five starts against Philadelphia and is undefeated at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies lineup is stacked with lefties which could give Luzardo an advantage given the .600 OPS opposing left-handed hitters have against him this season. Philly has actually hit left-handed pitching well this year though, with an OPS over .800 and an average of 5.1 runs per game in 51 games against a lefty starter.

Luzardo will rise to the occasion though and bring out his best stuff in a tight affair opposite Phillies ace Zack Wheeler. Five of his last seven starts were quality starts, three of which came against playoff teams. The 26-year-old will give the Philly offense fits all night and lead the Marlins to a shocking 3-2 win in Game 1.

3. Aaron Nola makes a statement

Aaron Nola's 2023 season has been an inconsistent campaign full of vintage Cy Young-caliber performances and multiple ugly starts to forget. Despite a very down year by his standards, the Phillies still trust their should-be ace in a high-leverage situation, giving him the start in Game 2.

Nola thrived in that No. 2 slot behind Zack Wheeler during the early portion of last postseason, tossing quality starts in his first two outings, both Phillies wins. He then hit a wall, allowing 14 runs in his last three starts, including a loss in Game 4 of the World Series.

Nola stayed healthy all season but posted a 4.46 ERA, more than a full point higher than his impressive 3.25 from 2022. The good news for this series is that Nola has pitched much better at home this season than he has on the road. He has a 6-3 record and a 3.29 ERA in 14 starts in Philadelphia. His road ERA is a whopping 5.43 with a .262 batting average against.

Nola also pitched very well in his final two starts of the regular season. He struck out 16 batters in 12.2 innings against the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. Though he didn’t factor into either decision, the Phillies won both games, the latter being a walk-off win that clinched Philly its second consecutive postseason berth.

Nola is pitching at his best as of late and should carry the momentum against the Marlins. Miami has hit him tough in three starts this season, but as the longtime Phillie makes his potential last start for the team, he'll put on a show for the South Philly crowd on Wednesday with seven shutout innings.

2. Trea Turner homers in every game

Is there anyone hotter on the planet than Trea Turner? Who would have thought that a simple standing ovation from the Philadelphia crowd would ignite one of the best two-month stretches in recent Phillies history?

Since the ovation on Aug. 4, Turner has arguably been the best hitter in baseball. He's launched 16 home runs with an OPS above 1.000 in that time span. The Phillies went 31-24 during that stretch as well, with Turner creating memorable clutch moments on multiple occasions.

The best players tend to rise to the occasion during the most intense moments. The playoffs bring a lot of those moments and Trea Turner is going to deliver for the Phillies. The star shortstop will launch a home run in all three games of the series, causing the Philadelphia crowd to erupt as he puts runs on the board for the home team.

Turner's first season in Philadelphia started out about as worse as it could have. It could end with the biggest of fireworks as the $300 million man gets his first taste of the MLB playoffs with the Phillies.

1. Phillies take series in dramatic fashion

A Marlins win in Game 1 sure would create some interesting scenarios, one of which being that Games 2 and 3 would become elimination games for the Phillies. After coming within two wins of a World Series title last season, Philadelphia could very well find itself on the brink of elimination two games into this postseason.

If there's any team you should never count out in the MLB playoffs, it's the Philadelphia Phillies. Especially at home, the Phillies are one of the hardest teams to beat two times in a row. It would be unbelievable if Philly dropped two games at home and saw its season end in the blink of an eye.

The Phillies may drop a game, but there are a lot of things that have to happen for them to lose the series. Baseball is a special game though and we saw plenty of upsets last postseason, with the Phillies on the winning end of some of them. They could very well get cold for two games and cause a shock, but the star power of the Fightins should lead to more postseason memories.

The Phillies did not have a walk-off in last year's magical postseason run. That will change this year as they take the series on the final at-bat in Game 3. For a little added bonus, who else but Bryce Harper to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off double.