Ah, once we’ve checked out, the Phillies always managed to reel us right back in.
On a positive note, the Philadelphia Phillies managed to take care of business against the Arizona Diamondbacks, as they should have. The Phightin’s took three of four from the D-Backs, with as much drama as they could have added. Nevertheless, we move.
Next up, Philly takes a trip down I-95 to take on the Washington Nationals. On the season, the Phillies have taken 10 of the 16 games these two teams have played. While in Washington, the Phillies have taken a whopping six of seven road games, setting them in with a prime opportunity to inch back into the division and/or wild card race.
In terms of needing to win games against inferior opponents, the Phillies couldn’t get much luckier this series. For game one, they’ll have their Ace Zack Wheeler on the mound. Wheeler, who has been competing for the Cy Young Award all season, has taken a hit in his chances to win the award after a tough month of August. In the past month alone, the right-hander allowed 19 earned runs (21 runs total) in five starts (37 innings). Luckily, his rougher starts are still quality for Philadelphia, and he’ll look to head into September riding a wave of momentum as he faces off against the poor hitting Nationals lineup on Monday night.
Matt Moore will get the nod for game two of this series. On Tuesday night, Moore will take the mound riding a somewhat decent month of August (in comparison to earlier in the season). The left-hander has a 4.50 career ERA in six total appearances against the Nationals.
Aaron Nola will wrap up the divisional series for the Phillies on Wednesday night. In an attempt to kick September off on the right foot, Nola will look to continue his improvement after a rough month of July. Despite not going deep into games recently, the right-hander has performed well enough. He’s had a rough track record later in seasons for his career, as his ERA balloons to 4.28 and a 1.307 WHIP in the months of September and October, so he’ll look to avoid following that career trend.
Josiah Gray will oppose Zack Wheeler Monday night. After the Nationals traded away nearly every player in their starting roster, Gray was one of the 12 prospects they received in return. The right-hander made his Nationals debut against the Phillies a month ago and performed well prior to their bullpen blowing the game. “I’ll get a good shot, a good role this year, and prove myself in the big leagues just like everyone here,” said Gray after that appearance, who threw 71 pitches over five innings, yielding four hits, striking out two and walking two.
On Tuesday night, Patrick Corbin will stand opposite of Matt Moore. Back on August 20, Corbin snapped a six-start winless streak with a solid 6 1⁄3-inning outing against the Milwaukee Brewers. However, he took a step back in his most recent start against the Miami Marlins, allowing six runs in three innings. Corbin has had a rough season, and the Phillies need to take advantage of it.
Finally, Paolo Espino gets the nod to kick of September for Washington. Espino is coming off a stellar start, where he struck out a career-high seven batters. He also picked up a hit and a run for the first time in his career, capping off a career game for the 34-year-old.
Phillie to Watch
I’m going to go with the easy and obvious option here. Bryce Harper is clearly the player to watch in this series, for good reason. Harper is likely going to win player of the month for August, slashing a .310 batting average with nine home runs, 21 RBI, and 21 walks. These numbers propelled him to an OPS of 1.003, good enough for the best in the MLB.
There will also always be that “revenge” factor for Bryce when he faces off against the Nationals, and he lives up to the pressure. Since joining the Phillies, the left-handed bat has a .301 batting average and an OPS of 1.049 in 44 games against this former team.
If Harper remains hot, and the Phillies win the games they should, then this should be an easy series win, if not another Nationals’ sweep.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire