Opposite dugout: Phillies make Mackanin full-time manager for better consistency in 2016

PhilliesLogo.jpgManager: Pete Mackanin (1st season)

Record: 57-96

Last 10 games: 2-8

Who to watch: CF Odubel Herrera (.291/.335/.412 with 40 RBIs), SS Freddy Galvis (.265 with 44 RBIs), 1B Ryan Howard (23 HR, 77 RBIs), RHP Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.84 ERA), RHP Ken Giles (13 saves, 1.38 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 5-11

Pitching probables:

Sept. 25: RHP Jerad Eickhoff vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 26: RHP Aaron Nola vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg, 4:05 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 27: RHP Aaron Harang vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez, 1:35 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Phillies:

As the Phillies close out the 2015 season as a team in transition, they are looking for some continuity heading into this offseason and next year. On Monday, the Phils removed the interim tag and made Pete Mackanin their full-time manager with a contract extension through 2016, including a club option for 2017. Mackanin had been Philadelphia's interim manager since June 26 after Ryne Sandberg suddenly stepped down following the Phillies' 26-48 start, which landed them in last place in the National League East.

The Phillies are 31-48 since Mackanin took over. His first series as the Phils manager came against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park from June 26-28. Nats fans will remember that series for the postponement of the series' second game on Saturday due to heavy rain, but only after the game started, essentially wasting Gio Gonzalez's start. The Nats won the series, but Philly was able to win Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader. That win is Phillies' only victory over Washington under Mackanin's management, with the club going 1-5 against the Nats and 13-17 against the rest of the NL East in that time.

The Phillies have played better baseball under Mackanin, but still remain the worst team in the majors. First baseman Ryan Howard is the only remaining piece of the Phillies' core that dominated the East in the mid- to-late 2000s. Howard is only batting .229, but has a team-high 23 home runs and 77 RBIs. Center fielder Odubel Herrera has been one of the few consistent batters in the Phillies lineup, leading the team with a .291 average and .335 on-base percentage. Shortstop Freddy Galvis has 44 RBIs and a team-high 139 hits to go along with his .265 average, while right fielder Jeff Francoeur and left fielder Cody Asche have combined for 23 homers and 76 RBIs.

Rookie right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will make his seventh career start to begin this last series between division rivals. Eickhoff is 1-3 with a 3.16 ERA in this first six starts, but hasn't earned a decision in his last two outings. His only victory came in his major league debut in Miami. Eickhoff threw six innings of shutout ball, giving up just five hits, one walk and five strikeouts. His shortest outing came in a loss in Boston when he only made it through four innings giving up six runs on eight hits. He is 1-2 with 3.38 EA in four road starts in his young career. Eickhoff throws a 91 mph fastball 58 percent of the time, while mixing in a 76 mph curveball and an 82 mph slider with the occasional changeup.

Righty Aaron Nola will be the second straight rookie to pitch for the Phils against the Nats this weekend. Nola will bring his 6-2 record and 3.84 ERA to Nationals Park for the first time on Saturday after facing the Nats for the first time last week in Philly. He pitched five innings, giving up nine hits, six runs, one walk and eight strikeouts in a no-decision. Nola was susceptible to the longball against the Nats, giving up homers to Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the Nats' 8-7 10-inning win. Nola is 3-1 with a 4.30 ERA in six starts on the road, but 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in four starts this month.

Aaron Harang, the wily 14-year veteran, willpitch for the Phillies in the season series finale. Harang is a lowly 6-15 with a 4.93 ERA over his 27 starts this season. His win on Tuesday against the Marlins was his first since beating the Braves on July 30, ending an 0-4 stretch with a 7.80 ERA over eight starts. Harang is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts against the Nationals this season, with the one win coming at Nats Park on April 18. He threw six innings and surrendered three runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in a 5-3 win. In his career, Harang is 4-7 with a 3.33 ERA in 16 starts against Washington and 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA in six starts in the District.

The Phillies are looking for some positive signs over their last nine games of the season. Some consistency from their young players, especially their young pitchers, under Mackanin may give some hope for a better 2016. It will be interesting to see what a new front office and a full year of managing for Mackanin can do for the Phillies' young talent.

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