Phillies may benefit from slew of doubleheaders in 2020
The Phillies schedule has become a mishmash of games
Coming out of the Marlins debacle, the Phillies schedule was changed to add three new doubleheaders to the schedule. After Friday’s rainout, they’ll play a fifth doubleheader on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies are now set to play 10 games in nine days and 17 games in 16 days going until their next scheduled off day on August 23. It’ll be a sprint that could get even more wrenches thrown in based on weather and COVID tests.
While the excessive number of games isn’t the best situation, the Phillies could stand to benefit from it in a couple of ways.
The biggest key is that these doubleheaders will only be seven innings each, meaning there are fewer opportunities for the bullpen to get involved. Fangraphs has Philadelphia’s bullpen with a 7.89 ERA and a .362 BABIP (Batting average on balls in play), both the worst in baseball.
A strong outing from one of the starters in a seven inning game could end up being a complete game. Even a six inning start where Hector Neris can pick up a save would be manageable.
More doubleheaders are also pushing the Phillies towards (likely) calling up their top pitching prospect Spencer Howard. If Howard performs well in his debut, which will likely be on Sunday, the Phillies could replace Vince Velasquez in the rotation and potentially see more wins from Howard than they would Velasquez.
So far a lot of the hitters have looked out of sync, and while playing more games could wear them down, for some it might get them into the groove they need to stay hot and locked in. We’ve seen a lot of hitters struggle to get going after the week-long shutdown, including Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins. Playing every day and getting consistent at-bats could help them lock in and get their swings together.
This season has gone from a marathon to a sprint to a triathlon in a matter of weeks, but getting fewer appearances from the bullpen in seven inning double headers and having the batters see consistent pitching could help push the Phillies out of this early season rut.