Opposite Dugout: Phillies ready to see a whole lot of Nationals

PhilliesLogo.jpgManager: Gabe Kapler (1st season)

Record: 39-33

Last 10 games: 7-3

Who to watch: CF Odúbel Herrera (.299, 12 HR, 41 RBIs), LF Rhys Hoskins (41 RBIs), 1B Carlos Santana (41 RBIs), 2B César Hernández (.262, 10 SB), 3B Maikel Franco (36 RBIs), RHP Zach Eflin (4-2, 3.43 ERA), RHP Aaron Nola (8-2, 2.55 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 1-2

Pitching probables:

June 22: RHP Tanner Roark (3-7) vs. RHP Zach Eflin (4-2), 7:05 p.m., MASN
June 23: RHP Erick Fedde (0-2) vs. RHP Aaron Nola (8-2), 4:05 p.m., MASN
June 24: RHP Jefry Rodriguez (0-0) vs. RHP Nick Pivetta (4-6), 8:08 p.m., ESPN

Inside the Phillies

Aside from the famous Phillie Phanatic's hot dog cannon claiming its first victim Monday night against the Cardinals, the Phillies have had a relatively good season with no complaints and have won seven of their last 10 games. Everyone at the ballpark loves a flying frankfurter, but when a mid-game meal wrapped in duct tape locks on its target behind home plate, there's always a margin for error. Luckily, the fan was OK aside from a black eye and will have one heck of a story to tell her friends for the rest of her life. This marks only the second meeting of the year between the Nationals and Phillies, who will play each other seven times in the next 10 days (and the Nats have yet to travel to Citizens Bank Park). The Phillies are in third place in the National League East, 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves and a half-game behind the second-place Nats.

Center fielder Odúbel Herrera's strong season could result in a possible All-Star Game nod. Herrara's solo homer lifted the Phillies over the Cardinals on Wednesday night as they took the 4-3 victory. He has homered in four straight games and five of six. Left fielder Rhys Hoskins has been rolling ever since returning from the disabled list. Since his broken jaw healed, he's smashed four homers and has three multi-hit games. Third baseman Maikel Franco needs to pick it up on offense after the injury to shortstop J.P. Crawford, who is out with a broken left hand. Carlos Santana went 1-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs as the Phillies took the loss on Tuesday to the Cardinals. The Phillies could use some more offense: They rank last in the majors in hits (557), 28th in total bases (932) and 26th in average (.233).

In his last three outings, Friday night starter Zach Eflin has three wins and a 1.93 ERA, and he's surely earned a place in the Phillies rotation. The righty hasn't allowed a home run in that span, covering 18 2/3 June innings. Tonight's game will mark his first appearance against the Nationals. Saturday starter Aaron Nola's shining season took a left turn in his last start, his shortest outing in 15 starts ths season. Manager Gabe Kapler pulled the right-hander after 4 1/3 innings against the Brewers after he yielded four runs on seven hits and four walks. In his career against the Nats, Nola is 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 starts. Rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta slinged a career-high 13 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings in a no-decision on Monday against the Cardinals. Pivetta began his career in the Nationals organization before being traded in 2015 for closer Jonathan Papelbon.

In the bullpen, the Phillies have some exciting young arms in Edubray Ramos (0.64 ERA), Seranthony Dominguez (1.61 ERA) and Victor Arano (2.66 ERA). Ramos has not allowed a run in his last nine innings and has surrendered only one earned run in his last 19 frames. Closer Hector Neris was recently sent down to Triple-A after posting a 6.00 ERA, so the ninth inning is in flux.

Previewing a weekend series with the Phillies
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