Phillies star Nick Castellanos picked a good time for his lengthy hitting streak.
The Philadelphia Phillies are embarking on an important 11-game homestand Friday evening, when they take on their division-rival New York Mets for the first of a three-day, four-game series.
Led by interim manager Rob Thomson, the club has 45 games overall remaining — including two doubleheaders — with just five off days scheduled in the final 48 days before the Wednesday, October 5, regular season finale against the Houston Astros.
While the Phillies trail the Atlanta Braves by 6 1/2 games for the top Wild Card spot, they hold a two-game lead (technically three given tiebreaker implications) for at least the third Wild Card spot. As Bob Vetrone Jr. notes, the Phillies are the only Major League Baseball team that has never qualified for the postseason as a Wild Card team. That could change in the next few weeks.
The Phillies will need contributions from their star players to make that a reality, and outfielder Nick Castellanos is no exception. While his first season in red pinstripes has been largely disappointing, he just might be turning things around at the time the Phillies need him the most.
Quietly, the 30-year-old enters Friday with a seven-game hitting streak spanning 30 plate appearances. Since August 11, Castellanos has slashed .367/.367/.567 with four runs scored, seven singles, three doubles, one home run, two RBI, 12 strikeouts, and even two stolen bases.
In 12 plate appearances during the recent three-game road series against the Mets at Citi Field, specifically, Castellanos slashed .417/.417/.500 with four singles and a double.
Castellanos has had three other stretches this season when he logged a seven-game hitting streak — April 11-17, April 20-27, and July 10-17. Eighteen of these 28 overall games came on the road.
Perhaps the slugger is still adjusting to playing in the City of Brotherly Love, but it would be great if he could keep his recent momentum going and extend his hitting streak to a season-high eight games on Friday.
Castellanos hit in 21 consecutive games with the Reds last season. If he went on a similar tear now, that could singlehandedly lift the Phillies to their first postseason since 2011.