Here are the probable pitching matchups for the next week's worth of games, including the home half of our long-awaited six-game showdown with the Braves.
As you can see, things are looking downright rosy for us. Of course, nobody should be counting their chickens, as short stretches of games in baseball are controlled as much by luck as they are by skill and talent. But, it is appropriate to feel optimistic, because the probabilities are clearly on our side. The Phillies' starters have definitive advantages over their likely opponents in five of the next six games, plus there's the fact that the Phillies' offense is superior to either the Nationals' or the Braves'.
The Braves series, in particular, lines up about as perfectly as any of us could have hoped. The Braves' rotation is pretty decent, albeit inferior to ours, but the Phillies will be throwing their best three out there while the Braves, to put it delicately, will not. Jair Jurrjens, in particular, is their weakest link: an average pitcher who has really been struggling lately. In addition, while Mike Minor is a serious talent with a chance to develop into a very good pitcher very soon, asking him to pitch a game of this magnitude in his eighth career start is asking an awful lot.
But it's precisely when the odds are most strongly in one's own favor that success is the most imperative. It's important to seize this opportunity now because the nine games that will remain on the Phils' schedule after this week will probably feature less advantageous matchups. So the appropriate goal for this week is not to hold off the Braves, but to step on their throats and bury them. Sweep them out, break their backs, and knock them completely out of the playoff picture altogether.