The Phillies return home after a somewhat successful series with Pittsburgh, where they started to earn some respect back from fans and people that write about them. A stumble in Pittsburgh would have been a much different story both here on this blog, and in the local newspapers, and from national coverage.
There won't be fireworks at Citizens Bank Park this weekend in the air, but the Phillies hope to keep that spark going on the field and pick up where they left off in Pittsburgh. We've already seen brief glimpses of hope by this team this year. They ran off a five game win streak, then promptly lost 5 games in a row.
One thing for sure is it will be hot up there at Citizens Bank Park, the mercury is in the mid-90's and it will be a great example of summer baseball for this weekend's series with Atlanta.
The Braves are having one of those 'magical' type of seasons. They rose up to first place early in the season and stayed there ever since. The team embarked on a great 10-game win streak that started off their season. The Braves were 10-0 from April 5th to April 16th, they didn't lose a game in the span. They are now at 49 wins on the season.
The Braves have manhandled the team that is in second place, the Washington Nationals, by a season series of 7-3 already this season. So far, the Braves have only played the Phillies 3 times, they own a 2-1 season series record against the Phils.
The Braves have so far done this with a salary cap that could be considered quite reasonable at 89.778 million for the team this year. Looking ahead though, after this year a lot of the Braves are not signed with them for next season, the only exception would be BJ Upton, Dan Uggla, and Justin Upton. The rest of this team is playing for a contract basically. Unlike the Phillies, who have a lot of money invested in a few players on the team that add up to substantial amounts, the Braves are basically making this run without all of that extra payroll.
The Phillies on the other hand are bloated at a payroll of $165M this season, with way less than stellar efforts by those making all of those millions. That seems to point to the Phillies shedding yet at least another big salary or two at the trade deadline, and that is almost for sure.
Here's the series matchups for this weekend's important series with the Braves:
Friday night: Cliff Lee vs. Tim Hudson
Saturday night: Kyle Kendrick vs. Paul Maholm
Sunday afternoon: Jonathan Pettibone vs. Kris Medlen