The Phillies have won 7 of 10 games and find themselves just a game behind the Nationals for second place in the NL East, but have a tough weekend ahead of them in Washington.
Jordan Zimmermann goes for the Nats in Game 1. The underrated righty leads the NL with seven wins, is third in ERA (1.62), third in WHIP (0.87) and first with three complete games. The opposition is hitting .202 off him.
The Phillies have hit Zimmermann around, though. He's 1-4 with a 4.33 ERA against them since 2010, with a 1.59 WHIP and six homers allowed in 27 innings.
The Phils counter with Kyle Kendrick in the opener. Jon Pettibone faces Dan Haren in the middle game, and Cole Hamels takes on Stephen Strasburg in a must-see series finale Sunday.
The Nats have been a disappointing team through the middle of May. Sure, they've dealt with injuries to Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper, but that doesn't excuse their team batting average of .225 or their .289 OBP. The Nats are 29th in baseball in both categories; only the Marlins are worse.
The Phils and Nationals meet 10 times in the next 46 games. The results of this head-to-head matchup will go a long way in determining the NL East, where the Braves are currently comfortably ahead but prone to ice cold spells.
Poorly timed rest
This is the second straight off day that comes at a bad time for the Phillies. They had 27 hits the last two nights, which was their most in any two-game span this season. Just like last Monday after a thrilling comeback win in Arizona, the Phils' bats are forced to rest just when they're beginning to go well.
Credit where it's due ... Delmon Young turned in an excellent game on Wednesday. He homered, hit an infield single to start a rally, threw out a runner at second base and made a nice running shoe-string catch. The Phillies need him to stay hot for around 10 days because Chase Utley could be out for quite some time. Young is 4-for-8 in his last two games in Miami with two homers, after hitting .163 in his previous 16.
Jimmy Rollins is also quietly hitting. He's raised his batting average by exactly 30 points over his last 13 games.
The Phillies lead baseball with 32 quality starts, and SPs not named Roy Halladay have a 2.81 ERA in May. A lot of those performances were wasted.