Thanks to Hurricane Irene, the next scheduled off-day for the 83-46 Phillies is now Thursday, September 29. That is, unless we somehow end up needing a division tie-breaker game, for that date marks the day after the regular-season ends.
Yes: 31 days remain, and 33 games remain on the Phils' schedule with double-headers on both the 15th and 20th. No breaks at all.
The only good news for the Phils is that September relief call-ups are a mere 3 days away... well, that and they are in first place. Cole Hamels is also being activated from the DL today, but Jimmy Rollins is going to be out for another week-plus. Lately, it's been a tag-team thing with them -- as soon as one player is retrieved from the shelf, another is folded neatly and placed on it. Currently, I'd watch Roy Ozwalt, who didn't exactly dazzle in their loss on Friday.
But let's check the details of that schedule:
Aug. 29-Sept 4. On the road: 4 at Cincy, then 3 at the Marlins. Isn't it about time for the Marlins to go on a hot streak again? Hmmm...I see that the Phils were provided with 'getaway' day game scheduling from both destinations.
Sept. 5-7. Back home to Philadelphia for a whopping 3 game homestand.... against Atlanta.
Sept. 8-14. Back on the road: 4 games vs. Milwaukee, followed by 3 vs. the Astros.
Obviously both teams will be trying to make a pre-playoff statement in the Brewers' series. That will be interesting, but certainly we would hope that the home team can at least split this series. As for Houston... we hear of "trap" games in football -- games you're supposed to easily win, but instead are panic-events coming off of the emotional high of a difficult prior win. If there was ever a good time for Houston to play the Phils, it's probably right here in this slot.
Again, day games for the end of each road series. Wish they had given us one of those the week before.
Sept. 15-22. Now back home for the last time... The Marlins have to make a special trip back to Philly... in the midst of a their own 11 game/10 day road trip. And they will have just left Atlanta. You can always hope for a split, but I'd be
surprised stunned if the Fish can do that here.
After that scrimmage, they get the Cards for 4 and the Nats for 4. 10 games in 8 days on that homestand.
St. Louis actually has a brutal stretch here as well -- Milwaukee, Cincy, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and now the Phils. They do have an off-day on the 15th -- right before this series -- so that should help.
The Nats likewise have the 19th off before the double-header on the 20th. Hopefully this wears out both the Phils and the Nats, for the Nats then cruise down I-95 to host the Braves on the 23rd. Oh, and Strasburg will likely be pitching against the Phils... but then again, maybe against us, too.
Sept. 23-28. The Phils finish up on the road after that nasty homestand... 3 vs. the Mets; and 3 vs. Atlanta.
As for the Bravos... only 29 games remain on their schedule. The Braves had almost every Thursday off in September, but now it's only the 15th and 22nd, after this extra 'All-Star Break' through today. Hey, extra days off at home isn't a bad thing. But I reference the ASB for a good reason: The worst schedule stretch they have starts tomorrow: 6 home games in a row, then 9 more consecutive road games in 8 days... kinda like mid-July. The Dodgers, Philly, New York, and the Cardinals are all included with that. Expect guys named Minor, Teheran, and Delgado to get some work ("our backup pitchers can beat up your backup pitchers"). Notably, however, even the road trips are not horrible in duration or distance. Plus, there's the two days off later in the month - exactly when needed.
I believe we need to gain about 3 games on the Phillies in the non-head-to-head matchups. If so, we might be able to beat up a really tired team at the end of the year and thus take the division. Yes, they have '4 games in hand' -- but this isn't exaclty an advantage as you can say they're all made up as double-headers. You gotta think it's still within reach. Let's just see how Jurrjens and Hanson (especially) are doing, and keep everybody else healthy.