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The Week Ahead: Phillies primed to make a run

Aug 23, 2010, 1:09 AM EST

Hold onto your hats Braves fans, the Philadelphia Phillies are finally hitting their stride.

The season has been a struggle for the Phillies. They’ve endured a host of injuries, questions about the preseason trade of Cliff Lee, some major slumps from outfielders Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez, and even some questionable managing decisions.

All you have to do is Google “Fire Charlie Manuel” to see how quickly the bloom of consecutive World Series appearances can crumble from the rose.

But through it all, they’ve managed to keep contact with the Atlanta Braves, entering the week at 70-53, just 2 1/2 games back.

After all the injuries, they are finally healthy, with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard rejoining the lineup last week. After the hand-wringing over the loss of Lee, Roy Oswalt is ensconced in the rotation. After all the criticisms of Werth and Ibanez, the pair of streaky outfielders are sporting an OPS of .917 and .770, respectively.

And now they’ve got four games at home against the Houston Astros (54-69) this week, a clear chance to make a move. After that it gets a little tougher, with a road trip to San Diego and Los Angeles, but the final month is filled with a whole lot of Marlins, Brewers, Mets and Nats – hardly frightening.

And in case you’re wondering, the Phillies and Braves have six games remaining against each other: Sept. 20-22 in Philadelphia, and Oct. 1-3 in Atlanta. Should be a great race.

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH
Reds at Giants, Aug. 23-25:
I thought the Giants were supposed to have good pitching. What happened? They better figure it out quickly with the Reds coming to town.

Twins at Rangers, Aug. 23-26: Texas had a bad week and still didn’t see its lead in the AL West dented much. But after being swept by the Rays, a good showing against the Twins would be good for the Rangers’ confidence.

Red Sox at Rays, Aug. 27-29: The Red Sox aren’t out of it yet, but if they’re going to make a move this would be a good place to start.

Yankees at White Sox, Aug. 27-29: Ozzie Guillen says he doesn’t like playing against spoiler teams like the Royals because they “have fun and kick people’s butts (and) laugh.” I wonder if the struggling White Sox are going to be happier playing the Yankees.

Phillies at Padres, Aug. 27-29: You might not have believed this entering the season, but if the playoffs started today, these teams would be facing off in the NLDS. Even more shocking? The Padres would have homefield advantage.

ON THE TUBE
Monday, 10:15 p.m. ET: Reds at Giants (ESPN2)
Wednesday, 8:05 p.m.: Twins at Rangers (ESPN2)
Wednesday, 10:10 p.m.: Rockies at Dodgers (ESPN)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Phillies at Padres (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Twins at Mariners (FOX)
Sunday, 2 p.m.: Yankees at White Sox (TBS)
Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Red Sox at Rays (ESPN)
*Check local listings

And for those of you who have asked for a schedule of MLB Network games, you may find that here.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.

  1. Jonny5 - Aug 23, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    tit for tat. It’s all subjective depending who you talk to. I for one agree Philly has had more key players out than Atlanta has. They are now back, and Atlanta needs to play .700 ball to stay ahead.

  2. nps6724 - Aug 23, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Part of the problem with comparing the injuries are A) Chipper, Medlen and Glaus have just recently gone on the DL while Howard, Utley, and the gang have all returned (IIRC). So we already know the affect those injuries had on Philly; we haven’t yet seen how they will affect Atlanta.

    Philly has played .750 ball for the past 28 games. That’s unsustainable. Even if we assume Philly plays .640 ball the rest of the way (25 wins in 39 games), Atlanta would only have to play .580 ball the rest of the way (22 wins in 38 games).

    These two teams still play each other 6 times (1 home series for each) and Atlanta leads the series 7-5 thus far. I could see them splitting the remaining games 3-3.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 24, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    “Both teams have had injury problems, but the Braves have been hurt more by them than Philly, despite Philly having bigger names hurt.”\
    Sounds like somebody is making a preemptive injury excuse LOL. The problem with comparing the Phillies injuries and the Braves injuries is that the talent level on the Braves is far below the talent level on the Phillies. So when you compare Shane with McLouth it is apples and oranges. Same with Polanco and Chipper. And Prado and Utley. The only place the Braves are even MINUTELY ahead of the Phillies is when you get to the 4th starter and the bullpen. Otherwise, it is like comparing apples and oranges.
    Oh, and WAR? What is it good for…absolutely NOTHING…say it again. I hate stat geeks!!!

  4. nps6724 - Aug 24, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    Yeah, most people hate stats when they prove their uninformed opinion wrong. It’s much easier to fall back on “I know what I see!” as a reason why you’re right. Carry on.

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