Phillies looking to quickly turn things around on their first road trip of the young season

Phillies looking to quickly turn things around on their first road trip of the young season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Well, this season has gotten off to a bumpier start than the Phillies might have hoped. Opening Day was preemptively postponed due to an unpromising forecast. The first pitch of Game 2 was delayed, due to it being difficult to play with the tarp on the field.

Game 5 went on through a steady, occasionally heavy, drizzle. Game 6, originally set to start at 1:05 was pushed back three hours with little advance notice. . .which turned out to coincide almost exactly with the moment another heavy downpour hit Citizens Bank Park. The first pitch was finally delivered at 8.

And that’s even before we pause to examine how the Phillies’ pledge to get off to a fast start has panned out during those infrequent breaks in the green radar when they’ve actually been able to follow the umpire’s classic admonition: Play Ball!

They lost to the Reds, 4-1 on Tuesday and are now 2-4. Manager Rob Thompson insists he isn’t worried and he shouldn’t be. If things don’t turn around, there will be plenty of time for that later.

“I think everybody is still locked into playing well and getting off to a good start,” he said.

Designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, who has emerged as the go-to guy for providing perspective, was just as unruffled.

“I don’t think anyone’s happy after a loss, but I think there are a lot of positive things to take away from the homestand,” he said. “At the end of the day we wanted to do better than 2-4 but we’ve got a good challenge ahead hitting the road. We’ll reset on the off day and go from there.

“I think we saw a lot of good at bats. I think we saw a lot of guys pounding the zone. So those are the kind of things you look at. You want to look at the negatives and learn from them, but also keep the good things in your head and carry those into the next series.”

What’s happened up to now matters less than what occurs from this point forward.

It’s also important to define exactly what a “fast start” entails. Opening the season losing two out of three to a Braves team coming off back-to-back 100-win seasons is nothing more than a mild annoyance. Being eight games under .500 (as they were in 2022) or seven games under (like last year) as May bleeds into June -- if it coms to that -- obviously does.

It’s the blanks that will be filled out in between that will tip the scales. And even though the Phils have rebounded to play deep into October each of the past two seasons and are fully-loaded to do it again in 2024 regardless, there are two under-the-radar factors that make the upcoming weeks a little more crucial than they first appear.

One, the home schedule is heavily front-loaded.

After playing the Marlins on the last day of June, they’ll have played 46 games at Citizens Bank Park. That leaves just 34 more spread out over the final three months.

Over the last two years the Phils have been a .500 team (81-81) on the road compared to .592 (99-66) at home.

Maybe even more consequential than where they’ll play is what team will be occupying the opposing dugout.

The Phillies are off Thursday after completing the Reds series. They then play three in Washington and three in St. Louis. They come home for four against the Pirates, three against the Rockies, three against the White Sox. Then they’ll pack their bags again for a road trip that begins with four games in Cincinnati followed by three in San Diego and three in Anaheim. Then they’ll cross the continent again to come home and play four against the Giants.

And that, on May 6, will end a string of 33 straight games against nine teams with one thing in common: None made the playoffs last year. Seven had losing records.

So while acknowledging the usual disclaimers – these are big league teams capable of being any team on a given night, etc. – they are also opponents that a team which has accepted World Series Or Bust as its unofficial motto has to lunch on.

The Phillies have made no secret of how important they believe getting off to a fast start is. By the end of that portion of the schedule, everybody should be able to agree on whether or not they did.