Series Preview: Phillies Welcome the Nationals for a 3-Game Weekend Series

Bohm Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm throws to first base after fielding a ground out by Chicago White Sox’s Andrew Benintendi during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia Phillies will host the Washington Nationals for a three-game series as they look to build upon their MLB-best record.

The Phillies won a home-and-home series with the New York Mets but dropped the last game, an 11-inning affair that ended in a 6-5 loss. They’re still sitting nicely at 31-14 on the season and are approaching a month without losing consecutive games. Amid complaints from elsewhere in the baseball world about their easy schedule — which, in fairness, has plenty of truth to it — the Phils are simply taking care of business and getting off to one of their best-ever starts.


The Nationals, at 20-22, are making progress in their rebuild and have been one of the best base-stealing teams in the league this season. Their 84 percent success rate on steals is one of the top marks in the majors and their 74 swiped bags trails only the Cincinnati Reds at 79. No other team has more than 55. This series will be a big test for J.T. Realmuto, whose success in catching potential base stealers is hovering right around the MLB average, and the Phillies’ pitchers, who have dissuaded SB attempts better than most teams.

In their first series of 2024, a three-game weekend series in D.C., the Phillies notched their first multi-game winning streak of the season by winning the first two games before dropping the finale by a single run due to miscues on the base paths.

The first pitches for this series are scheduled for 6:40 PM on Friday, 6:05 PM on Saturday and 1:35 PM on Sunday (all times EDT). The Phillies will start it off in their City Connect uniforms, marking the fourth game of the new threads being in action.

Probable Starting Pitchers

The series will begin with Zack Wheeler on the mound for the Phillies. Wheeler’s last start was his worst of the 2024 campaign so far, as he tossed a season-low 4.0 innings, tallied a season-low two strikeouts, and surrendered a season-high six runs to the Miami Marlins. The Cy Young candidate will look to bounce back in his latest start at Citizens Bank Park.

The Nats are expected to start Jake Irvin on the mound on Friday night. The righty has gotten off to a nice start in his second season in the majors, posting a 3.55 ERA in eight starts/45.2 innings. He prevents walks at an impressive rate but doesn’t dominate with a ton of velocity or swing-and-miss stuff, so he could be someone the Phillies do lots of damage against.

Cristopher Sanchez is expected to get the start on Saturday. He lasted just 4.1 innings in his last start against Washington this season, allowing three earned runs, but has completed at least five innings in five of his last six starts.

Philadelphia Phillies starter Cristopher Sanchez pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 6, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Opposite of Sanchez, Washington will also start a lefty in MacKenzie Gore. The 25-year-old has shown steady improvement, posting a career-best 3.38 ERA while striking out 29.0 percent of his opposing batters and allowing the lowest home-run percentage, walk percentage, and exit velocity of his brief career. Although hitters have hit .396 on balls in play against him, the rest of his statistical profile, including a 2.74 FIP, suggests that he’s a top-notch pitcher.

The series will be wrapped up by Aaron Nola, fresh off of the fourth complete-game shutout of his career, and a charity event at Philabundance. Noles has lowered his ERA this season to 3.10 and his FIP to 3.56 and made Philly the first team with multiple shutouts this season from a single pitcher, with the first coming from Ranger Suarez.

The right-handed Trevor Williams, who has a 1.94 ERA across eight starts/41.2 innings, is expected to start opposite of Nola. Like Irvin, he doesn’t throw with insane velocity or tally a lot of strikeouts. But he has tapped into his sweeper more this season, giving him five pitches he throws with regularity along with his four-seamer, changeup, slider, and sinker.

Injury News

Taijuan Walker was struck in the foot by a comebacker in the fourth inning of the Phillies’ loss to the Mets, sustaining a contusion to his left big toe. X-rays came back negative and Walker said it felt better after the game despite some swelling and soreness. Should he need to take some time to recover, the Phillies would likely put Spencer Turnbull back into the rotation, though that would come in their next series.

Trea Turner is still on the mend with a left hamstring injury but seems to be improving at a faster rate than expected. He has been getting on-field workouts in before games and is two weeks through an absence that he said would last at least six weeks.

Due to an MCL sprain, the Nationals are without Lane Thomas, one of their best hitters and base stealers. His absence will make it harder for Washington to keep up with one of MLB’s hottest teams.

Matchup to Watch: CJ Abrams vs. Edmundo Sosa

Many baseball fans pointed to Abrams as a potential breakout star this season after being one of the centerpieces of the first Juan Soto blockbuster and finishing last season. The 23-year-old has been crushing it this season, though he does come into Philly with his campaign’s first three-game hitless streak.

Abrams sets the table for the Nats lineup. His 41 hits, 26 runs, seven home runs, and .814 OPS are all team-highs and his four triples lead all National League hitters. He’s tied for second on the Nats in RBI with 20 and is fourth in stolen bases with eight. If he gets hot, he could be a major thorn in Philly’s side.

While the Nationals will flaunt their franchise shortstop in one of the top two spots of their lineup, the Phillies still won’t have the services of their veteran star shortstop (and one of many former Nationals on the roster). Edmundo Sosa has been the primary replacement for Turner in the field and and performed admirably.

Since Turner’s last game, Sosa has soaked up 10 starts in the 12 games. His OPS of .924 is powered by great plate discipline, as shown by his .439 on-base percentage and six walks in 42 plate appearances. He also has 10 hits, including a pair each of doubles and triples, six RBI, and two stolen bases. Getting such great production from Sosa has allowed the Phillies to keep stacking wins despite absences from other key contributors over the last few weeks.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)