Reigning National League Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper will be sidelined a minimum of six weeks with a fractured left thumb. Jean Segura remains out until at least August with a broken right ring finger.
However, Kyle Schwarber is healthy and almost single-handedly keeping the Phillies in playoff contention. Philadelphia will look for its third victory in a row and its second straight over the visiting Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
Schwarber blasted two solo shots, giving him an NL-leading 25 home runs, as the Phillies demolished the Nationals 11-0 on Tuesday.
“It’s a good team. We know what we’ve got,” Schwarber said in a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It’s going to be a little bit harder (without the injured regulars). We have to come together more and find ways to win baseball games.”
The Phillies, who improved to 21-9 under interim manager Rob Thomson, also received a home run and three RBIs from J.T. Realmuto, two hits and three RBIs from Alec Bohm, and two hits and two RBIs from Nick Castellanos.
Bohm extended his career-best hitting streak to nine.
October baseball remains far away, but the Phillies are back in the conversation since Thomson replaced Joe Girardi early last month.
“That’s always been the goal,” Thomson said of the postseason. “We do have a long way to go.”
The Phillies played their third consecutive game without shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is dealing with left knee soreness. It’s unclear if he will be able to return in the Washington series.
Philadelphia will hand the ball to Aaron Nola (5-5, 3.13 ERA) on Wednesday. Nola is 6-7 with a 4.11 ERA in 25 career starts against Washington.
The Nationals will hope to avoid a seventh straight loss on Wednesday.
Without Juan Soto, the Nationals managed only three hits on Tuesday, all singles. The slugger, who is dealing with a sore left calf, declared himself day-to-day.
“I didn’t want to chance it. We’ll let him try to get better,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said of leaving Soto on the bench. “We’ll see where he’s at. I know he’s going to take some swings later on, and we’ll see what’s going on.”
Nelson Cruz was also scratched moments before the game due to a stomach illness, and his availability for Wednesday was unknown.
The Nationals fell to 6-29 against NL East opponents this season.
Josiah Gray (6-5, 4.22 ERA) is scheduled to start for Washington on Wednesday. Gray is 0-1 with a 4.20 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies. He got a no-decision against Philadelphia on June 18 despite pitching six shutout innings and allowing only one hit.
In Gray’s latest start, Friday against the Miami Marlins, he struggled while giving up 10 hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings.
“Nine batters he was ahead, he punched out six,” Martinez said after the outing. “Seven batters he fell behind, five guys got on base. When he works ahead, he’s really good, and we’ve seen that in the past. We have to get him to continue to work ahead and throw strikes.”
–Field Level Media