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Phillies Beat with Destiny Lugardo

Can the Phillies overcome having the easiest schedule in baseball?


If you don’t know by now, the Phillies have by far the easiest remaining schedule in Major League Baseball. It’s so easy, it’s impossible for the Phillies to miss the playoffs again, right?

The Phillies desperately need Rhys Hoskins to return to the lineup. (Cheryl Pursell)

Of the remaining 43 games left on the Phillies’ schedule, only 14 are against teams with a .500 record or better.

The Phillies also have 16 games remaining against last-place teams in their respective divisions. The Braves, who also have one of the easiest remaining schedules, have 11 games left against last-place teams. Atlanta also has 12 games plus an almost completed seven-inning suspended game remaining against the Dodgers, Giants and Padres. The Phillies have one three-game series in San Diego this weekend and then they are done with the three behemoths out in the NL West.

Yet, the Phillies have underperformed against bad teams this season. They have only the 20th best winning percentage in baseball against teams under .500 at .536 with the Braves faring better at .594. The Phillies have been slightly better against .500 teams or better than the Braves (.492 winning percentage vs. .464).

There are a few “bad teams” the Phillies should think twice about underestimating. The Baltimore Orioles came to Philadelphia last season and manhandled the Phillies in an embarrassing home sweep. They are a much worse team this year, but the Orioles are coming back for a three-game series during the final homestand of the season.

Following the O’s series is another with the Pirates, who won two out of three against the Phillies a few weeks ago.

Maybe the most worrisome inferior team the Phillies have on their schedule are the Marlins. They have a 7-6 record against the Fish this year, but their two remaining series are in Miami. The Phillies are 11-18 against the Marlins in Miami dating back to 2018. They have never swept the Miami Marlins on the road. Their last sweep in Miami came on Sept. 13-15 in 2010, when the franchise was known as the Florida Marlins and played their home games at Sun Life Stadium. This will be important to keep in mind if the Phillies go into the final weekend of the season in Miami needing a sweep to reach the postseason.

The Phillies began a stretch of seven of the next 13 games against the now 39-win Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. The offense mustered just three hits and two runs against a pitching staff with the second-worst ERA in MLB.

Manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to hear about the easy schedule anymore.

“We played Arizona and we got beat because we didn’t hit,” Girardi said after Tuesday’s game. “No matter who you play, if you don’t hit, and if you don’t pitch, and you don’t run the bases and you don’t play defense, you’re going to lose in this league and that’s the bottom line.”

It’s hard to beat any team if a handful of regulars in the lineup are struggling all at the same time. Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, Ronald Torreyes, Travis Jankowski and Andrew McCutchen all have an OPS under .600 since Aug. 6, the day after Rhys Hoskins’ aggravated his groin injury. Bryce Harper is batting .207 in that same time frame, but is still walking at a high rate and hitting home runs.

Last season, the Phillies’ postseason dreams took a hit when Hoskins went down with what was eventual deemed a season-ending elbow injury. Hoskins could be back during the Padres series, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic. It’s a massive boost for a struggling offense that will face Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove in the first two games in San Diego.

The Phillies also need to overcome the mental hurdle of finally playing well enough in September to make it to October. They’ve gone into the last three seasons with a chance to make the playoffs heading into the final month of the season only to go 33-53 in September since 2018.

But the easy schedule should simplify everything, right?

If Tuesday is any indication of how they’ll play down the stretch, it’s going to be a long six weeks for Phillies fans. Maybe having the easiest schedule in baseball and the pressure of having it made isn’t the advantage everyone thinks it is.

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