Phillies' grueling travel schedule might be the only thing that can slow them down

The Phillies will cover a lot of ground in the next week and a half, and it will be a tough test.
Chase Utley MLB World Tour: London Series 2023 Photocall
Chase Utley MLB World Tour: London Series 2023 Photocall / Stephen Pond/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies have arrived at the first major milestone of their 2024 schedule, with a trip to the United Kingdom to face off against the New York Mets as part of the MLB London Series. Following Wednesday's 2-0 victory and series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Phillies jumped on a five-hour flight across the pond for a two-game series in London that starts on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET.

The Phillies are no strangers to cross-country travel, having recently returned from a lackluster West Coast road trip against the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants. While the Phillies have been consistently playing great baseball since the second week of April, they went 2-4 on the trip and found themselves mired in a brief three-game losing streak.

The panic didn't last long, but that trip was a reminder that anything can happen when baseball players encounter even subtle changes to their routines.

Instead of turning the clocks back, this time the Phillies will be playing five hours ahead of East Coast Standard Time. So how are they preparing for this stark difference in time?

Phillies' grueling travel schedule might be the only thing that can slow them down

With a built-in gap of two days off between traveling to London on Wednesday night and playing the first game of the London Series on Saturday afternoon, the players have some time to adjust to a clock five hours ahead of what they are accustomed to.

While Sunday's 10:10 a.m. ET game will certainly present a brilliant situation for Philadelphia brunch spots and drinking establishments, how will the change in time affect the Phillies?

According to's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies training staff forwarded the idea of sleeping on the flight from Philadelphia to London to help the players adjust their sleep schedules.

"Essentially, the key is making sure we're sleeping on the plane going over," explained manager Rob Thomson, per Zolecki. "We've got a plane with 100-something lay-down seats. So it'll be sleeping on the way there, then getting up and moving around once we get there to try to acclimate to that time zone."

It's promising that the training staff put in the effort to solve that problem, but nothing can account for the overstimulation that comes with being in and experiencing a foreign country for the first time. Luckily, Phillies alumni and members of the media will handle much of the game promotion while the players get over the jet lag.

With Ranger Suárez deemed healthy enough to make Saturday's start after being hit by a line drive last week, it appears the Phillies have all their bases covered for the two-game series in London. But how will the Phillies perform after making the trip back following Sunday's game?

Phillies' tough travel schedule doesn't end in London

When the Phillies and Mets last played a four-game series in mid-May, the Phillies absolutely dominated. They took three of the four games and created enough concern in the Mets clubhouse that the team had to have a closed-door meeting.

The time change plus more games versus the Mets? Baseball is a funny game, but looking at how the Mets have played this season, overall 27-35, it doesn't appear that Phillies fans have much to worry about in the London Series, with the exception of Taijuan Walker starting on Sunday.

According to Zolecki, the Phillies will have to prepare to do the opposite of what they did when they make their way back to the United States on Sunday.

"As for the return trip, the Phillies will head straight to the airport following Sunday's series finale," writes Zolecki. "Obviously, the exact timeline depends on when the game ends, but the plan is to arrive in Boston -- where they will open a three-game series vs. the Red Sox on Tuesday -- around 10 ET on Sunday night."

"That means they'll need to do the opposite on the trip back home," adds Zolecki. "Stay awake for the entire flight, then sleep as soon as they get to their hotel in Boston."

Phillies will face a tough test when they arrive back Stateside

What Phillies fans should be worried about is the trip back to the United States. With a built-in off day on Monday, the Phillies will be back to work on Tuesday night when they take on the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series at Fenway Park. Say what you want about a Red Sox team that is currently 31-31 and has a number of star players on the IL, this is an AL East team that should not be taken lightly in its own ballpark.

The Phillies will then head to Baltimore to take on the Orioles for three games at Camden Yards. It will be their biggest test of the season when they face a 39-21 Orioles team that's currently 3.5 games back of the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Facing a young, star-studded Orioles lineup, the Phillies will have their work cut out for them. Baltimore has affixed itself as a top team this season. Hopefully, the Phillies will have fully recovered from playing in, as Zolecki points out, "18 different time zones since May 23."

The Phillies will be back home at The Bank on June 17 when they begin a series against the San Diego Padres, For all of the detractors who think the Phillies have benefited from a weak schedule, this upcoming 11-game stretch will either validate or eliminate talk of the Phillies being considered the best team in MLB.

It's certainly going to be a season-defining stretch for the Phillies over the next couple of weeks. How they handle these upcoming series should tell us how mentally tough this team really is. Now buckle your seat belts and make sure your tray table is in an upright position. The Phillies seem ready to prove to the world that they are the best and most resilient team in MLB this year.