What is a team to do when their starting centerfielder (and one of the hottest hitters in baseball) tags up to an already-occupied base? Road trip.
The Phillies will play 18 of their next 28 games away from Citizens Bank Park, and return home from this west coast swing with a doubleheader vs Miami (thanks a lot). This trip will begin with a three-game set in San Diego, followed by a four-game series in San Francisco before returning home on August 22.
The Phils are an abysmal 19-41 on the road this year, but they will be playing two of the other worst teams in the NL over the next week. We’re still at least a year, maybe two or three, before we will be breaking down west coast trips this time of year as make-or-break trips in the midst of a divisional or wild card pennant race. But, let’s have a look at what the Phillies are playing for:
Rhys Hoskins. The rookie got his first MLB hit and RBI in yesterday’s loss, and this will be a return to the Golden State for the Sacramento native. It’s apparent that the Phillies are determined to push the envelope on Rhys, both in terms of his positioning (he’s a first baseman playing left field), and in regards to his spot in the order (he’s been hitting 4th). Having seen him in his last several games at Lehigh Valley in person, I’m looking for him to start feeling more comfortable and settling in on the team.
Aaron Nola. Over the last few months, Aaron Nola has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League. The Phillies are in last place, and are more likely to get media coverage for things like Odubel’s baserunning mistake than for the elite right hander taking the mound every fifth day, but if you’re a Phillies fan, this is a must-follow story. Aaron is scheduled to pitch the series opener in San Francisco (10:15pm) on Thursday.
Odubel Herrera. That must have been one long flight out to California last night. Addressing his mental issues (in baseball terms, not clinically), has become a small but significant part of Pete Mackanin’s job. As of this posting, lineups for tonight’s game are not available, but look to see if Herrera is even in the lineup today. This guy has a huge reservoir of talent, and the team has made a financial commitment to him (he’s in the first year of a 3-year, $9 million deal), but it will be interesting to see how they handle this. Maybe Pete just talked to him, or he was spoken to by a teammate. The storyline of how they continue to address Odubel’s play is one to follow.
Good luck with the late games this week, try to get some sleep. A few crisp Phillies wins should help with that.
Baseball writer for SportsArePhilly.com. You can follow me on Twitter @jasphil