Phillies vs Nationals: Series preview & predictions

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MLB: JUL 24 Marlins at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 24: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of the game between the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies on July 24, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

You’ll have to excuse my lack of attention for the Phillies last night. The National Football League has my head all mixed up.

I almost hit the payout of my life.

Now I kinda, sorta watched the Phillies game last night, but I was so excited for the NFL season that even NBC Pre-Game coverage took precedence.

When I did tune in, I saw the Phillies poop the bed in the 9th inning to a far inferior team.

It was just another game that makes Keith Hernandez look justified and a further shake-up in the MLB standings that now feature the San Diego Padres ahead of the Phils.

Take your eye off the ball for one night, and this is what happens to the Phillies and me.

Still, it’s not like the Phillies are turning around to the Atlanta Braves – it’s the worst team in the National League. Before we get to the Nats, it’s important to contextualize what this series could mean for the Wildcard Race.

Where are the Phillies in the wildcard race?

The San Diego Padres officially jumped on the Phillies, now leading by +0.5 games, without even playing a game. That makes last night’s 9th inning collapse even more painful.

The Padres draw the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend, so the Phillies need to take care of business. TCB, boys.

The Milwaukee Brewers split their doubleheader and remain 2.5 games back of the Phillies. I still don’t feel they’re a real threat. They feel very ‘don’t swim after eating,’ to me. I’m not gonna take you seriously until I drown.

I’ve been banging this drum, but no one in the Wildcard Race has a more manageable remaining schedule than the Phils. Of their final 25 games, Philadelphia gets the Nationals or Marlins ten times. There’s no reason they go at least 15-10 to close the regular season.

Onto those pesky Nats.

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto
Philadelphia Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto hits a double against Cincinnati Reds pitcher Reiver Sanmartin during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Pitching Matchups – 9/9-9/11 @ Citizens Bank Park

Patrick Corbin (6-17, 6.28 ERA) v. Noah Syndergaard (8-9, 4.07 ERA)

Corbin has struggled, but his last three starts have been impressive. Over that stretch, the veteran has a 1.96 ERA in matchups that featured both the Padres and New York Mets. So while a 6.28 ERA shouldn’t scare you, he’s no slouch.

Watch Rhys Hoskins in this one. In 30 at-bats, he’s raking .333, including three solo home runs against the Nats starter.

Erick Fedde (6-9, 5.08 ERA) v. Ranger Suárez (8-5, 3.52 ERA)

Suárez has an ERA of 1.81 across his last eight starts. A stellar number and an excellent place to improve against Washington.

The former closer has struggled against the Nats this season despite going 2-0.

A 1.64 WHIP and 4.91 ERA against Washington’s finest isn’t ideal. He’ll look to turn it around on Saturday.

Aníbal Sánchez (2-5, 4.56 ERA) v. Aaron Nola (9-11, 3.35 ERA)

If Aaron Nola had five more wins every year, he’d have three Cy Young awards.

Another .500 season is on the horizon despite the MLB’s fifth most strikeouts (200). His 3.35 ERA certainly isn’t near the top of the pack in the National League. Still, his projected remaining starts are as follows: Nationals, Atlanta Braves twice, Chicago Cubs, and the Houston Astros.

That’s not easy, but a couple of solid performances against the Braves and Astros could make a Cy Young bid entirely legitimate.

Injury Roundup

The Phillies could be lucky enough to see Seranthony Domínguez return this weekend. This would be a welcome return.

Although you cannot entirely blame yesterday’s blown save on David Robertson, it will be nice to have another solid option to close games.

Outfielder Nick Castellanos will miss this weekend, but Phillies fans can expect him to return early next week. That could be the last we see of Dalton Guthrie in 2022.

Zack Wheeler may throw a bullpen session this weekend, and the Phillies could see him return in the back half of September. An appearance against the Atlanta Braves the weekend of 9/23 would be some friendly ‘practice’ for playoffs.

Zach Eflin also plans to pitch today in Lehigh Valley, so the Phillies could have him back by 9/19 if things go well. Eflin hasn’t pitched since the end of June.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire

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