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Playing the Dodgers and Mets: Where the Rubber Hits the Road

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There are a lot of interesting stories around the Phillies right now.  Naming more than a few is easy: Raul Ibanez's season long dominance; Ryan Howard's power surge; JC Romero's return from suspension; Brett Myers's surgery; Brad Lidge's resurgence; J.A. Happ and Antonio Bastardo trying to patch up a leaky rotation; the 6 game winning streak; the team being in first place by 3 games.

Mostly unnoticed amidst all the excitement of the season is the Phillies' road record.  So far, the Phillies are an amazing 19-6 on the road this season for an incredible .760 winning percentage.  Contrast that to the team's home record of only 12-14, or a .462 winning percentage.  While the team has struggled a bit at home, they've been utterly dominant on the road.

How dominant?  Their road record is far and away the best in the majors.  The Dodgers, with the best overall record in the majors, have the next-best road record at 17-12, or a .586 winning percentage.  Only 5 other teams in the majors (the Yankees, Reds, Brewers, Rangers, and Braves) have a road record over .500.  In fact, the Phillies' road record is so good that it's better than the home record of every team in the majors other than the Dodgers' (at 20-6, or a .769 winning percentage).

This is not something new for the team.  For the past five years, the Phillies have had road records above .500.  They've had a 44-37 record three times (2004, 2006, 2008) and a 42-39 record twice (2005 and 2007).  Overall, that's a .533 road winning percentage over the past five years, which is first in the NL over that period and tied for second in the majors for that period (second to the Angels, at a .560 winning percentage, and tied with the Yankees).

As good as the Phils have been on the road so far this year, the next six games will be a big test.  The Phils' dominant road record has been accomplished by beating up on many inferior teams.  While they've played the Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, and Reds, they've also played the Rockies, Nationals, Marlins, and Padres.  The weighted average winning percentage of the Phils' road opponents so far this year is .453.

That's going to change dramatically starting tonight.  The Phillies face the MLB-leading Dodgers for four games and then the the second-place Mets for three games.  To make matters even tougher, both teams are playing great at home this year.  The Dodgers are 20-6 at Chavez Ravine, and the Mets are 17-9 in Queens.

Thus, over the next seven games, the Phillies will be putting their league-best road record to the test against two excellent home teams.  How they fare in these two tough series will tell a lot about this team going forward.