The Phillies went into the break on a fun, dynamic stretch, winning 12 of 17 games. That stretch included three games against the San Francisco Giants and three games against the Kansas City Royals. So they didn't just beat a bunch of pushovers.
They will have a tough time duplicating that success in their first 13 games after the break. They will face the Mets for three games at home, then host the Marlins for four games, after that it's three games in Pittsburgh, before four more games in Miami. All of those teams are currently playoff contenders. But fans don't have to be hopeless heading into those series. The Phillies are 4-2 against the Marlins so far and 3-3 against the Mets. They have yet to face the Pirates.
The second half could be a bumpy ride because several of the young pitchers could blow past their previous highs in innings pitched. They also face a lot of good teams. Of the remaining 72 games, 56 are against teams with winning records. That's 78 percent of the games coming against teams with winning records.
San Francisco Giants (57-33): 3 games
St. Louis Cardinals (51-40): 3 games
Chicago White Sox (45-43): 4 games
Los Angeles Dodgers (46-52): 6 games
Washington Nationals (54-36): 7 games
New York Mets (47-41): 13 games
Miami Marlins (47-41): 13 games
Pittsburgh Pirates (46-43): 7 games
When you face that gauntlet the rest of the way, you have to start out strongly.
Friday, July 15: 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, July 16: 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, July 17: 1:35
Bartolo Colon (7-4, 3.28) vs Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 3.92)
Logan Verret (3-6, 4.34) vs Jerad Eickhoff (6-10, 3.80)
Justin deGrom (5-4, 2.61) vs Zach Eflin (2-2, 4.08)
What we know about the Mets
The defending National League Champions are bumped and bruised. Matt Harvey is on the disabled list. So is David Wright. As is Lucas Duda. Michael Conforto got sent down to the minor leagues. But they are still a dangerous team. Though they are in second place in the National League, they have the fifth best record in the league and the tenth best in baseball. They're a World Series contender and shouldn't be taken lightly. They've got a lot of pop, but are toward the bottom of the league in on-base percentage and last in stolen bases. One good thing for the Phillies. They don't have to face Noah Syndegaard or Steven Matz.
Getting a win in the first game after the All Star break would be a nice lift for the Phillies. Pulling it off against the ageless Bartolo Colon isn't going to be easy. The former Cy Young winner might make people smile with his goofy at-bats and pudgy appearance, but the guy can pitch. His career really is remarkable. In 19 years, he's pitched for eight teams, been in an All Star game during three different presidencies and done well for himself in the post season.
But Jeremy Hellickson has been fun to watch, too. He's been a lot better than most people expected heading into the season.
What we can't wait to see
Cesar Hernandez ended the first half on a nice little streak. He's definitely had a different approach of late and the results are startling. He's hit .462/.472/.519 over the past 12 games. No way he keeps anything close to that pace. But it will be interesting to see if he can start the second half strongly. If he hits well, it could be a good omen for the offense.