Have you missed the Phillies? Or did the first half end so poorly that you wished the all-star break could last another week? Either way, the Phils are one day closer to returning. They open the second half on Friday and begin a stretch of 10 games in 10 days against the Nationals, Dodgers, and Pirates. It will be quite the test to open the second half of the season. The trade deadline is three weeks away, but the next 10 days will tell the Phillies how active they should be. There’s one more day until the action begins.

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— Matt Breen (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

Jay Bruce (left), J.T. Realmuto (right) and the Phillies open the second half of the season on Friday with a stretch of 10 games in 10 days against the Nationals, Dodgers, and Pirates.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Jay Bruce (left), J.T. Realmuto (right) and the Phillies open the second half of the season on Friday with a stretch of 10 games in 10 days against the Nationals, Dodgers, and Pirates.

Sorry Phillies, no Mets for you

Bad news for the Phillies: They don’t play the Mets until September 6. Good news for us: We can figure out what this team actually is.

In the last month, the Phillies went 6-1 against the Mets but 4-13 against everyone else. They looked like a playoff team against the Mets and a disaster against the rest. For a while, they won’t have the Mets to fall back on. And we’ll find out if this team is a contender.

The first seven games after the all-star break will provide a clear indication if the Phillies are for real or not. They open a three-game series against the Nationals on Friday night and then welcome the Dodgers to town on Monday for a four-game set. The Phillies and Nationals each hold one of the two Wild Card spots and the Dodgers are the National League’s best team. Remember how they beat the Phillies four times last month at Dodger Stadium?

If the Phillies hold their own against the Nationals and Dodgers, forget about how they stack up in the standings. More importantly, the Phillies will have proven that they are a contender for the rest of the second half. If the Phillies fade, then even a wild card can be considered a lofty expectation. The tone for the second half of the season will be defined by the next seven games. In just a week, we’ll know where the Phillies stand.

“We have to play better,” J.T. Realmuto said after the All-Star game. “We have to be better, get healthy, and just get on a roll. You get yourself to the playoffs and a lot of things can happen.”

The rundown

Jake Arrieta will continue to pitch with a bone spur in his right elbow, Gabe Kapler said. Arrieta is expected to pitch Sunday, but the team has not yet announced it. The bone spur has affected the way Arrieta has thrown his breaking pitches and opponents have made him pay.

The 2019 Phillies look a lot like the 2007 Phillies did at the All-Star break, Bob Brookover writes. In 2007, the Phillies at the break were “a team that had been built to bash the baseball but many nights could not provide a lead big enough for the worst pitching staff in the National League.” We know how that season finished.

The Phillies lost 43 times in the first half and Bob Brookover was nice enough to list out the 10 defeats that were most difficult to digest. Remember the walk-off loss last month in Atlanta? Maybe you forgot about the afternoon loss in April to the Nationals? Or the extra-inning stunner in Colorado? Relive them with Brookie.

Important dates

Today: Phillies enjoy final day of the all-star break.

Friday: Nick Pivetta faces Nationals righthander Stephen Strasburg, 6:05 p.m.

Saturday: Aaron Nola starts against lefthander Patrick Corbin, 7:15 p.m.

Sunday: Phillies face Max Scherzer in series finale, 1:05 p.m.

Monday: Phillies open four-game series against the Dodgers, 7:05 p.m.

Before playing in his last game as a Phllie, Ryan Howard says goodbye to the fans Sunday, October 2, 2016 at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will honor Howard on Sunday with a retirement ceremony.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Before playing in his last game as a Phllie, Ryan Howard says goodbye to the fans Sunday, October 2, 2016 at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will honor Howard on Sunday with a retirement ceremony.

Stat of the day

The Phillies may not be pleased with how the first-half of their season went, but NBC Sports Philadelphia is. The network said Wednesday that its Phillies telecasts are on pace for their highest-rated season since 2012. In the first-half, the Phillies averaged a 4.4 household rating, which is 23 percent better than what they were averaging in the first half. If the Phillies fade in the second half, it will be interesting to see how their TV ratings react.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.

Question: Didn’t Gabe Kapler just throw every pitcher at triple A Lehigh Valley under the bus? 85% of Jake Arrieta is better than what we have at AAA. The Phillies may indeed think that…but you cannot say that publicly. What do you think? - Jim F. via email.

Answer: Thanks, Jim. I don’t think it was meant as a slight towards the pitchers at triple A, but instead just what the Phillies think they have in Arrieta. The Phillies are paying Arrieta $25 million this year. Of course, they think he’s better than the pitchers they have at triple A, even if he’s not 100 percent. I think the pitchers at triple A understand what Kapler was saying. Now Arrieta just has to prove him right.