Bryce Harper faces off against his former team this weekend in a battle for second place in the NL East. Photo by Wayne Terry, TPL.

After a few days rest, the Phillies kick off the back end of this season with a weekend series at home. They will be hosting Bryce Harper’s former team, the Washington Nationals. The short break in action has given this team time to reset and refocus to take back the top spot in the division, and it starts tomorrow by jumping the Nationals and getting back into second place. 

Probable Pitching Matchups 

Game one: Nick Pivetta (4-3, 5.84 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 3.64 ERA)

Game two: Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.74 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (7-5, 3.34 ERA)

Game three: TBD vs. Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.30 ERA)

The Phillies are going to have their hands full in this series. Facing off against the Nationals best pitchers is going to be a challenge to kick off the second half of this season. The Phillies have still not decided who is going to take the hill in the series finale after recent news of Jake Arrieta being injured and possibly needing surgery. Whoever it is will have their hands full going up against one of the best arms in arguably all of baseball.

 Protecting Home

This is a must-win series for the Phillies. Coming out and hitting the ground running is a must if the Phillies want to get themselves back into the area of contending this season. Not to mention, the Nationals currently hold a half-game lead over the Phillies for second place in the NL East, so if the Phillies want to catch the Braves, step one is getting back in front of the Nationals. This will be no easy task as the Phillies have struggled against Washington this year. In 11 games, the Phillies have a record of 4-7 in this matchup. 

One thing the Phillies will have in their favor is that they will be playing at home where they play much better baseball. Also, the Nationals are a sub .500 team on the road, which is another advantage in the Phillies’ favor. Although the Phillies will be facing off against the Nationals’ best arms, I still think this is a series that they can win. If Nick Pivetta can get back on the hot streak that he was on a few short weeks ago and Aaron Nola continues to come out and dominate, it will put the Phillies in a good spot to win the first two games of this series. This is a crucial series as the Phillies cannot afford to drop this series and then have to catch two teams in the standings. This is officially must-win baseball for the Phillies.

Stats to keep an eye on

  • Bryce Harper tends to hit better in the second half of the season. For his career, he is a .273 hitter in the first half of the year and a .281 hitter in the second half.
  • Aaron Nola has only allowed one earned run over his last 21.2 innings pitched.
  • JT Realmuto is currently batting .393 with a .452 OBP over his last seven games.
  • Max Scherzer has racked up double-digit strikeouts in each of his last three starts.
  • Juan Soto has a .500 OBP over his last seven games.