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Lighter schedule means a chance to right the ship

The Phillies have played 35 games this season. Of those 35 games, 25 have come against the Nationals (12), Mets (6), Dodgers (3), and Cubs (4), four clubs that have made the playoffs the last two years. For a young team trying to establish themselves, growing pains against these teams were inevitable. But after a six-game win streak and an 11-9 record, the Phils took a tumble, losing 12 of 15, dropping their record to 14-21. The Phils held a lead in 12 of those games with the pitching mostly to blame.

But after yesterday’s doubleheader with the Nationals, the Phils won’t see the division leaders until September. And you know what, it’s probably better that way.

Over the next three weeks, the Phils’ schedule lightens up considerably. They will travel to Texas and Pittsburgh over the next week for six games. The next five series are as follows: vs Colorado (4), vs Cincinnati (3), at Miami (3), vs San Francisco (3), and then at Atlanta (4).

The Phils can turn their fortunes around against the sub-par competition. Below, is a chart that ranks the upcoming opponents’ offensive numbers:


Runs scored Team BA



10th 28th



28th 27th



7th 8th



19th 9th


San Francisco

29th 26th



23rd 13th


Texas can knock the ball out of the yard, so it’s paramount for the Phillies to limit their home runs to solo shots. Cincinnati has been the surprise of the year so far, similar to the the Phillies start last year. Their sneaky good offense is led by Joey Votto of course, but Zack Cosart and Eugenio Suarez are contributing with career years. The rest of the offenses? Mostly anemic.

This could be the perfect stretch of games to get the pitching staff in order. Jerad Eickhoff could overcome his third-time-through-the-order demons. Opponents are hitting .140 in their first plate appearance against the 26-year-old, getting progressively worse throughout the game (.269 then .390 in their second and third plate appearances, respectively). Whether it’s fatigue or his stuff is less effective, this is the time for Eickhoff to figure it out. This could be an optimal time for Vince Velasquez to get his pitch count in order. The forgotten man in the rotation, Aaron Nola, could return right into form.

With solid starting pitching, it will be easier for Mackanin to manage the bullpen, much to the satisfaction of Joaquin Benoit. Clear roles could be defined.

None of the upcoming teams have particularly good pitching staffs, either. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Miami, San Francisco and Atlanta’s team ERA ranks 18th or worse in the league (Texas ranks 11th). Most of the staffs also pitch to contact, as each club’s K/9 ranks 13th or worse in the league. The Phils are averaging a 4.4 runs a game and have a chance to improve upon those numbers by putting the ball in play.

The schedule hardens up for the Phils again after this stretch when they’ll take on St. Louis (6), Boston (4), Arizona (7), and Seattle (2) in June. This is their chance to strike if .500 is still the goal.

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