Trying to remain in position for a wild card, the Philadelphia Phillies need to improve their recent play on the road and fare better than they did against the Chicago Cubs earlier this season.
Looking to avoid a season-high fifth straight road defeat, the Phillies will open a three-game set against the Cubs on Tuesday night.
Entering play Monday, Philadelphia (83-69) holds a 1 1/2-game lead over Milwaukee for the final National League wild-card spot, but is 1 1/2 back of San Diego for the second position.
The Phillies concluded the home portion of their schedule with two straight losses to Atlanta. Now they play their final 10 games at Chicago, Washington and Houston.
Philadelphia has dropped four straight and 12 of 17 away from home. However, the Phillies won’t put too much pressure on themselves to secure their first postseason appearance since 2011.
“It’s in our hands right now,” Philadelphia slugger Kyle Schwarber said. “We’re looking forward to this final push here.
“We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to be prepared. We’re going to be locked in.”
The Phillies looked far from locked in when they were outscored 25-7 while being swept during a three-game home series by the Cubs (67-86) July 22-24. Philadelphia managed five hits and two walks against scheduled Chicago starter Marcus Stroman (4-7, 3.80 ERA) on July 23, but only scored one run against the right-hander over six innings of a 6-2, 10-inning loss.
Stroman, who yielded three runs on two homers while striking out seven in six innings of the Cubs’ 4-3 victory at Miami on Wednesday, is 1-5 with a 6.31 ERA in 10 home starts this season. That victory came against Colorado on Sept. 16, when he yielded a homer, two other hits and two walks in seven innings of a 2-1 win.
Stroman is 4-4 with a 2.49 ERA in 11 career games (nine starts) against the Phillies.
Chicago has dropped 10 of 15 at home but is coming off a 5-2 trip to Miami and Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, its starting pitchers rank third in the majors with a 3.15 ERA since the All-Star break.
“You need guys that come in, and are competitive, and keep the team in games, stuff like that, and kind of just take the weight off one another. It’s a huge thing,” said the Cubs’ Adrian Sampson, who allowed a run over six innings of Sunday’s 8-3 win at Pittsburgh.
Schwarber, a longtime Cub, hit a pair of home runs during the Phillies’ 8-7 loss in 11 innings to the Braves on Sunday. He has just eight hits in his last 10 games, but five have left the park.
Scheduled Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler (11-7, 2.98 ERA) squared off against Stroman in July. He allowed just one run on three hits and fanned six in seven innings.
After missing a month with forearm tendinitis, Wheeler allowed two hits and struck out three without a walk on 58 pitches through four scoreless innings against Toronto on Wednesday.
Nico Hoerner is 3-for-6 with a home run versus Wheeler, while Yan Gomes is 5-for-11 with a homer and four RBIs and Ian Happ 2-for-5, also with a home run and four RBIs, against him.
Phillies star Bryce Harper is a .314 hitter with 12 homers in 54 games versus Chicago. But he’s 1-for-16 with seven strikeouts in his last five games overall.
–Field Level Media