Phillies Need to Continue Feasting On Bad Teams In Weak Early Schedule
After a 1-4 start to the season, the Phillies have won 8 of their last 9 games. At 9-5 they have one of the best records in baseball, but I don’t think anyone would argue that they are one of the best teams in baseball. After 14 games of the season it seems a bit much to say that a series against the Atlanta Braves is important, but as the Phillies head back to Atlanta they face 3 fairly important games for a mid-April tilt.
It is fairly obvious why the Phillies record is where it is. They lost 2 of 3 games to the Braves in a series with some bad breaks, bad management, and some disastrous pitching from Vince Velasquez. They lost two close games to a Mets team playing out of its mind. Then they just got done cleaning up against three of the five worst teams in baseball. There is nothing fluky about the Phillies having 9 wins, but there is also nothing predictive. The Phillies are at minimum in baseball’s vast mediocrity and not among it’s crap, they are better than the clearly tanking and the inept. They are also not an elite team who is going to win when they make mistakes.
This brings us to the Braves series. The Phillies play the Braves 10 times before May, and don’t face the Nationals for the first time until May 4. That May 4 game is also where the Phillies’ schedule gets difficult. From May 4 until July 11 here is who the Phillies play:
- Nationals – 10 games
- Giants – 7 games
- Cardinals – 7 games
- Mets – 6 games
- Brewers – 6 games
- Orioles – 4 games
- Dodgers – 4 games
- Pirates – 3 games
- Yankees – 3 games
- Cubs – 3 games
- Braves – 3 games
- Rockies – 3 games
- Blue Jays – 3 games
That isn’t a bunch of losses, but it also doesn’t contain long stretches of wins against the dreck of baseball like the Marlins, Padres, or Reds. The Dodgers, Nationals, and Cubs are struggling now, but all are talented enough to be tough series by the time the Phillies get to that point in the schedule.
So this is where the Braves series comes into play. The Phillies need to bank wins now, because the losses are going to come. The Phillies are a bubble playoff team, and the path to a wild card involves stealing wins along the way. Right now the Phillies are not at full health, and winning games now before the bullpen is back at full health allows the games they can steal later in that stretch much more meaningful. Additionally the Phillies are not getting much from Aaron Altherr, Andrew Knapp, Carlos Santana, Jorge Alfaro, and J.P. Crawford, all players the Phillies are looking at to contribute everyday. In an ideal world the Phillies have won these games while at partial strength and are at full capacity when they enter the tough part of the schedule.
While this Braves series won’t decide if the Phillies are a playoff team or not, winning these games early may determine if the Phillies are in a position to play meaningful games in July. A sweep or series loss to the Braves could make an impact down the line. On paper this Phillies team is better than the Braves, and if they want to #BeBold they need to win series like this.