Philadelphia Phillies: Must dominate their “easy” August schedule

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 28: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with Didi Gregorius #18 after a 8-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 28: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with Didi Gregorius #18 after a 8-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Nothing comes easy in sports. And far be it from me to suggest that anything could ever be easy for the Philadelphia Phillies specifically. But as the MLB calendar flips to August, one thing becomes clear from a Phillies perspective: the team must make hay this month because things are never going to line up this well for them again.

To their credit, the 2022 Phillies have already withstood a managerial change, an injury to the league MVP, and the existence of Jeurys Familia to enter the month of August sitting in a playoff spot in the National League. Could this finally be the club to snap the franchise’s decade-long postseason drought? If it is, then they have to be lights out in August.

Let’s take a look at their schedule this month. The Phillies play 29 games in August, with 18 of them at home. Sounds good on the surface, although they have been better away from Citizens Bank Park this season. Still, the home-heavy month lines up to their advantage. But it’s mostly the competition they’re playing that should stand out.

Based on their competition, the Philadelphia Phillies must have a big month of August.

Yes, the Phillies begin the month with two games in Atlanta. That’s always tough. Here’s hoping that they at least earn a split against the Braves after taking two of three from them in Philadelphia last week. Then there are two series against the Mets on consecutive weekends in the middle of the month. The Phillies play three games in New York, then a four-game set in Philadelphia, which includes a doubleheader. Again, that’s a challenge. Nine games total against the teams ahead of them in the division. You’re hoping to go 5-4 but dreading the possibility of something like 2-7. These games are key, and they could help determine the ultimate winner of the NL East crown.

The rest of the month, though? Cake. At least on paper.

Four games against the Washington Nationals, against whom the Phillies are 6-2 this year and who might not have Juan Soto at that point. Three games against the Miami Marlins, which might have scared you in years past. But based on the Phillies’ sweep in Miami just before the all-star break, perhaps we’ve finally turned a corner on all this nonsense. So there are seven tasty games against the underbelly of the division.

As for the other opponents, the Philadelphia Phillies’ entire season series against the Cincinnati Reds (seven games) will also fall within the month of August. The Reds stink, they have already traded their best pitcher in Luis Castillo, and they might sell off other players before the trade deadline. Oh, and there’s a home series against the Pirates, against whom the Phillies just rattled off a four-game sweep in Pittsburgh. Finally, they cap off the month with three games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are also below mediocre.

Add it all up, and that’s a bunch of wins that SHOULD go on the ledger for the Fightins. With 20 games against already bad teams who could theoretically be even worse if they shed some of their better players before the trade deadline, 11-9 just isn’t going to cut it. The Phillies really need to go something like 15-5 in these games and build up a cushion in the wild card race because it’s going to be a fight down the stretch. Particularly worrisome is the fact that the Phillies close the regular season with ten straight games on the road. Nobody is going to feel comfortable if they reach that point with a one-game lead.

The time to pull away is now, even if it’s too late for the Phillies to realistically make a run at the NL East title. Facing bad teams at this time of the year, after the trade deadline, is a schedule perk that they’re fortunate to enjoy. They’ve impressively already won their season series against the Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals, and Padres, which is important as the last two clubs are likely to be their direct competition for the last playoff spot or two. A lot of the hard work has already been done; they can’t slip up now.

Next. Alec Bohm is finding ways to produce at the plate. dark

A successful August for the Phils will go a long way toward making the Cards, Padres, and perhaps the Giants fight amongst themselves for one spot. And if I’m being honest, it would be pretty satisfying if the Phillies were directly involved in denying a playoff appearance for Albert Pujols and friends. As long as the Phillies get in, though, I can’t be too picky about who else makes the cut.

The road to success is right in front of the Philadelphia Phillies during the month of August. Let’s hope they didn’t forget their E-ZPass.