After a 2-4 West Coast road trip, the Philadelphia Phillies will return home for a quick two-game series beginning Tuesday against the Washington Nationals.
The Phillies won one game each in three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. In addition, the Phillies gave up five home runs in the series with two strikes in the count.
In a season filled with inconsistency on offense and defense, the mistakes continue to plague the Phillies.
“We talk about it all the time,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve given up way too many two-strike hits overall with just mistakes. It’s something that if we’re going to get to the next level, we have to be better at that.
“Bad execution is really what it comes down to.”
Starter Zach Eflin allowed a career-high four home runs in Sunday’s 11-2 loss against the Giants. One day after a resounding 13-6 win, the Phillies were unable to carry over the momentum. That has been a problem all season.
The Phillies will now turn to their top starter this season to try and start a new winning streak. Zack Wheeler (5-3, 2.15 earned run average), a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate, will be making his 15th start.
In Wheeler’s career against the Nationals, he’s 6-12 with a 4.44 ERA in 22 starts.
This season, Wheeler has proven to be dominant. He has a 1.25 ERA in his last eight starts.
Wheeler tossed six shutout innings in his last start, a 2-0 win over the Dodgers.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Wheeler said. “Obviously, I had four walks. But that was the majority of the guys on base. When you don’t have your best stuff, you have to really bear down.”
The Nationals, who will be looking for their 10th win in the last 13 games, won three of four games in their last series against the New York Mets.
Washington won 5-2 on Sunday thanks in large part to three home runs by Kyle Schwarber. Since being moved into the leadoff role, Schwarber has ripped nine homers in the last 11 games.
“I’m a big believer in that hitting is a feeling,” Schwarber said. “Don’t get me wrong — there’s mechanics, there’s approach, things like that. But when you step in the box and everything feels right, you’ve already got a big advantage. It’s just a matter of trusting everything else, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Schwarber has also hit five home runs in the last two games, which ties an MLB record.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what’s going on,” Schwarber said. “Like I’ve said before, I think the consistent work in the cage has been a big thing. And I think overall just being comfortable at the plate, I think that’s a big contributor. I’m not going up there just trying to hit home runs. There’s a little bit of luck involved, but I’m happy to get the job done and happy to get the win at the end of the day.”
The Nationals have yet to officially announce a starter for Tuesday, but it’s looking like Max Scherzer will take the mound for his 14th start.
Scherzer (5-4, 2.21 ERA) has been dealing with a strained groin, but after a throwing session Saturday, he walked by reporters and said, “See you on Tuesday.”
Scherzer is 12-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 22 career starts against the Phillies.
–Field Level Media