It's another doubleheader day for the Phillies, their seventh out of eight. They face the Blue Jays twice at home today, the first game beginning at 4:05 p.m.
Toronto will be the "home team" for the first game of the doubleheader to make up a game postponed in Buffalo the first week of August after the Phillies hosted a COVID-stricken Marlins team.
The Phillies have gone 3-9 this season in seven-inning doubleheaders. They are 21-15 in all games longer than seven innings.
The bullpen has been brutal in a lot of these games and the defense has been bad in a few.
Another simple but major factor has been the starting pitcher.
Vince Velasquez, the Phillies' sixth starter, has started three of the 12 games.
Spencer Howard, their rookie No. 5 starter who had a shaky first summer in the majors, started two.
Two were bullpen games.
So that's more than half of the doubleheader games started by the Phillies' fifth and sixth starters or the bullpen.
The Phillies' first doubleheader took place during their second series of the season at Yankee Stadium. Wheeler gave them six strong innings and they carried an eight-run lead into the final inning, when the Yankees scored four runs.
In retrospect, that was a sign of things to come in doubleheaders for the Phillies, who lost nine of their next 11 as the bullpen gave away game after game.
You'd think a team with the worst bullpen in the majors but other strengths would have success in shorter games. It's been the opposite for the Phillies.
The Phillies' bullpen has allowed 31 earned runs in 24⅔ innings this season in doubleheaders, an 11.31 ERA.
The Phils' second doubleheader was at home against the Braves. They blew a late lead and lost Game 1, then got smoked 8-0 in Game 2 behind Howard.
The third doubleheader was the most painful. It was in Buffalo against these very Blue Jays. The Phillies led 2-0 in Game 1 and lost. They scored seven runs in the top of the first inning of Game 2 ... and lost. There have been so many low moments and meltdowns for the 2020 Phillies that it's unclear if that was even rock bottom.
Then the Phillies went to Fenway for a doubleheader. They beat the Red Sox in Game 1 and finally appeared to be in position to sweep, but they blew a 2-0 lead and lost Game 2.
Down to Miami. Nola pitched them to an 11-0 win, then the momentum vanished with a 5-3 loss in Game 2 of the first doubleheader.
Two days later, the Phillies scored a total of two runs in two losses to the Marlins.
The Blue Jays are a good team and they're better with their best player, shortstop Bo Bichette, a second-round pick the year the Phillies picked Mickey Moniak first overall. The Phillies missed Bichette in the previous doubleheader as he dealt with a knee sprain.
The Phils' final doubleheader is next Tuesday against a Nationals team that has totally checked out. Washington is 18-29 and five games out of a playoff spot. The Phillies are 6-0 this season against the Nationals and have to win at least three of four in that series.
But before that, it's the Blue Jays for four games in the Phillies' final home series of 2020.