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July 29, 2020

When will Phillies resume season? How will their schedule be resolved? Will they face Yankees?

Phillies first game back pushed to Saturday

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Phillies-Didi-Gregorius-Rhys-Hoskins-summer-training_071620_USAT Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

How many players will be needed to complete the 60-game regular season?

UPDATE [12:50 p.m.] — Below we take a dive into some pressing questions about the Phillies right now as they continue to not play baseball. New broke Wednesday afternoon that, contrary to an earlier expectation, the Phillies would not be playing Friday.

One can only hope things aren't pushed back further.

EARLIER — The Phillies are like sick kids home from school right now, watching TV, unable to see their friends, stuck inside waiting to return to normalcy.

No, none of them are actually sick — reports have said every Phillies player tested negative for COVID-19 following an outbreak in their own stadium that saw 17 Marlins players and staffers test positive for the virus — but they are as of Wednesday morning not allowed to get together and practice yet.

That's because as a precaution, the Phillies and Yankees four game series (two home and two away) was postponed following news of the Marlins virus issues. The team is expected to be back on the field Friday, assuming nothing changes with their negative tests, but that leaves open a ton of questions about the team going forward.

Will they make up the games? 

That's anyone's guess right now. The Phillies and Yankees have two shared days off (two of a total of six). Each comes in between two other series slated to occur somewhere on the east coast. 

The statement released by MLB announcing the postponement of the Yankees series mentioned that there will be news of "additional rescheduling during the week of August 3" to be revealed later this week. What could that entail?

The league has the ability to make a mass rescheduling, but they also could, for example, replace a three-game Phillies-Marlins series (of which there are more than one) with the Yankees, add a double header and make up the four games. Obviously this then leaves three divisional games to make up, but it does help a little. 

There is just one off day between the scheduled end of the regular season and the start of the postseason so make ups for this are not a foregone conclusion, but it seems clear the league will do something to get the Phillies (and the Marlins, who will miss six games or more) at least a little closer to 60 total games.

What about the final standings?

It's completely possible that the Phillies wind up with less games than other teams. Before the season started, it seemed like a sentiment that was held possible by most of the league — with playoff positioning determined by win percentage. 

“If everyone doesn’t play 60 games, I think that’s all right,” manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday on MLB Network Radio. “We want to get to the playoffs. That’s the important thing. If a team plays 57 games, you go by winning percentage to take the playoff teams and you go from there.” [The Athletic]

Of course, this could help the Phillies (with less games to potentially lose and therefore easier to have a higher win percentage) or hurt them (with fewer potential games in hand they may be unable to reach a necessary win total).

What about the starting pitching rotation?

The Phillies have Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler slated to pitch in the first two games against the Blue Jays when the reason resumes. This is a no brainer — a higher percentage of games pitched by your aces is always a smart choice. The series finale will be pitched by Jake Arrieta who has not pitched in a game since a July 10 scrimmage. Presumably, Zach Eflin will follow — a starter who similarly hasn't pitched in a long time.

The worst of this is not the time off, but the time off without practice. The pitchers whose starts were skipped haven't even been able to get bullpen sessions in due to being held out of the stadium out of safety precautions.

If the league adds double headers to help make up for the four missed Yankee games at some point, it will likely even out the advantage Philly has pitching-wise by making them use extra starters later in the year.

What are the players doing right now?

There is hope after negative tests again from Tuesday that the team will be allowed to have a workout at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday. Since the Sunday outbreak, the Phillies have been getting tested at the ballpark and sent immediately home. It seems reasonable to expect (or hope) that they'll be able to ramp up activity before Saturday.

The expectation is that the team will have staggered workouts over the next few days to try and get sharp for their hopeful return to action.

Does potentially dodging the Yankees help the Phillies?

Clearly it does, if the schedule somehow remains absent make up games. The Phillies had one of the five hardest schedules before the season began and missing one of the biggest AL World Series contenders definitely gives the Phillies an advantage. 

However, potential chaotic make up games split between other series, or staged as double headers could wind up making things more difficult. Phillies fans will have to wait to see how things pan out.

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