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Wounded Phillies traipse home to face Nationals

After being pummeled all weekend at Wrigley, the leaders of their own division await the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies: At some point, these games stop being chances to maintain momentum or bounce back, and just start being nightly, nine-inning examples of what the teams are. It makes me fearful to think that the Phillies are finally, after two months, being the team they were predicted to be. They have lost a lot of games lately, to everyone from the Braves to the Cubs. There is no indication of what sort of team they could play right now that would give them a chance to win. The Nationals, the 30-21 Nationals, even with Bryce Harper hitting under .200 over the last two weeks, seem like they could handle them.

The Nationals: Look, the Nats are beatable. The Phillies proved that by sweeping them in their own stadium a few weeks ago. But I haven't seen those Phillies on the field lately, and the Nationals don't need too many of their pistons firing to take 'um down. Just, for the record, this team does not impress me. Though that's probably unfair, since we just got exposed to the Cubs for three straight days.

Heavy Hitters

Daniel Murphy: While Bryce Harper - who only has four hits in the past week - is gallivanting around Philadelphia at night eating ice cream, Murphy is probably lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking about hitting (Between other, dumber thoughts, of course), as he has nine knocks in his last six games. .

Anthony Rendon: Rendon ripped April off the calendar and flushed it down the toilet, starting May anew. The rebirth has seen his BA rise 56 points, as he's started hitting home runs (four this month) and logged ten multi-hit games in the last 18. The Phillies do not offer the sort of pitching lately that can stop a man like this.

Ryan Zimmerman: Everybody felt so bad for poor old Ryan Zimmerman as he, like Rendon, struggled through April, adrift on a sea of bad hitting and endless pity. Well, he fished Rendon's torn-out April calendar page out of the toilet, took it home, and flushed it down his own toilet, in order to achieve the same result. With two home runs on Saturday and a more enthusiastic approach at the plate, we can say that is one piece of waterlogged refuse that was worth touching with his bare hands.

Tyler Goeddel: He hit a home run.

Freddy Galvis: Freddy's got four doubles in his last five games. Because the rest of the Phillies are batting around him, none of them have knocked any runs in. No walks, though.

Peter Bourjos: He hit a home run, too. It was... [bows head, chokes back a cry] it was fine I guess.

Probable Pitchers

Tanner Roark vs. Jeremy Hellickson

Roark got tickled over five innings by the Marlins two weeks ago, allowing seven runs and being left out there to throw 115 pitches. But his next two starts helped to trim his ERA back down to 2.71 or some other less discouraging number, and now he's in the middle of a successful streak that no one named "Tanner" deserves. Plus, look at this terrible advice he gave to some kids.

"Learn from your failures?" "Don't blame the ump?" Thanks to Roark, we're going to have a generation of rational adults taking responsibility for themselves out there, instead of blaming an umpire only they can see for all of their problems.

Over his last few starts, Hellickson has shown he's trying to be a consistent six-seven inning, two-three earned run guy. Well, he's probably trying to allow no runs and pitch the whole game, but this is probably about where his ceiling is. Go get 'um, Hellboy!

Joe Ross vs. Aaron Nola

When you've got guys like Bryce Harper or Jayson Werth putting on a power display while you wait patiently in the dugout, pitching probably gets a little easier. But that's not to say that Ross, who has benefited from long, deep contributions from both of these teammates in his starts, hasn't carried his own weight. He allows hits, he allows runs, he doesn't strike many people out, but chances are, the Phillies will be grounding out too quickly to notice they haven't been able to accomplish anything.

Nola's got to be exhausted, having spent the year trying to steer the Phillies through a series of one-run victories. Thankfully, that stress has been alleviated of late as the team has started piling up losses. In his last start, he went six deep, struck out six, and walked only one Tiger. Nola seems like he is the best chance the Phillies have to not give the Nationals the best chance to win the game.

Max Scherzer vs. Adam Morgan

Hooooooooooooooooooooooo boy.

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