The Marlins left Philadelphia on Friday and Sunday, and the Phillies are leaving town today. Finally, both teams are ready to resume their season. The Phillies are headed to New York to begin a four games in four days against the red-hot Yankees, and the Marlins head to Baltimore.
But not every team is ready to play. The Cardinals are postponed Monday for the fourth straight game after a series of positive coronavirus tests. If they play Tuesday, it will be the first time in nine days that baseball has had all 30 teams available for action. It’s shaping up to be a long 60-game season.
- Phillies test negative again for COVID-19; Jake Arrieta slated to start Monday night in New York
- Phillies diving into deep end of pool against Gerrit Cole and Yankees on reopening day | Bob Brookover
- Major League Baseball couldn’t do a bubble. Can players be more disciplined to save season from a coronavirus crisis? | Scott Lauber
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The Phillies haven’t played a game in seven days and spent four days of their COVID-19 break locked out of Citizens Bank Park. So maybe MLB could ease them back into action this week. Nope. They’ll face Gerrit Cole, one of baseball’s premier pitchers, and a Yankees lineup led by Aaron Judge, who homered Sunday for the fifth straight game. Good luck.
“It would seem that we are at a disadvantage, not being able to play pretty much every day like we’re accustomed to,” right-hander Jake Arrieta said. “But if you lean too much on that, it could creep into your mind too heavily and could most certainly affect your performance. That’s not where my head’s at. My head is staying in physical shape and getting work in, getting my reps in, and preparing the best way possible for Monday, or for whenever the time comes for us to play a real game again.”
New York City is under a tropical storm watch, but the weather forecast looks fine for Monday’s game before heavy rains arrive Tuesday. It doesn’t look like the Phillies will be able to avoid Cole, who has 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings. The right-hander threw 102 pitches last week against Baltimore, as his arm is tuned up after two starts while Arrieta and Zach Eflin have yet to make one.
The Phillies hitters haven’t faced live pitching since July 26, and their starting rotation has combined for just 15 1/3innings. Now they have to play four straight against the Yankees before four straight against the Braves. In a 60-game season, there’s no time for the Phillies to ease themselves back in. The season starts again on Monday, and it won’t be easy.
“We can look at it like we’re at a disadvantage or we don’t have the ability to perform the way we should, but I don’t believe so,” Arrieta said. “I believe baseball is a game with a lot of physical skill and ability, but it’s also a chess match, especially from the pitching side of things. I know I have the ability to pitch a lot of different ways. Whether my arm strength is ready for 100-plus pitches or not, I know there’s things that I can do to navigate a lineup and give my team what they need [Monday] night.”
Happy reopening day, Bob Brookover writes, ahead of Monday’s restart to the Phillies’ season. “Apparently it wasn’t enough for the lowly Marlins to simply beat the Phillies the way they did last season. This season they beat them and also made them join them in sitting out the first full week of the season.”
Arrieta stayed sharp during the pause by playing catch at a field in South Jersey with Tommy Hunter. Arrieta and the Phillies, Scott Lauber writes, had to improvise last week to be ready for when they jumped back into the season.
The Phillies learned Saturday that two of their three positive coronavirus tests last week were actually “false positives.” That allowed them to continue to train at Citizens Bank Park and schedule Monday’s game against the Yankees. It also increases the chance that the virus did not spread last week when they played three games against a Marlins team that had a widespread COVID-19 outbreak.
Tonight: Jake Arrieta starts against the Yankees, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Phillies finish two-game set in New York, 6:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Phillies and Yankees head to Philly, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Phils play the Yankees once more, 6:05 p.m.
Friday: The Braves come to town for the first of four games, 7:05 p.m.
We know Arrieta will start on Monday night, but the Phillies have not announced their rotation for the rest of the Yankees series. If Aaron Nola starts Tuesday night, he’ll start two of the team’s first five games for the third straight season.
A Phillies pitcher has not done that in 32 years. Take a guess. It was Shane Rawley, who started two of the Phillies’ first five games in 1986, 1987, and 1988. Rawley, whom the Phillies acquired in 1984 from the Yankees for Marty Bystrom and Keith Hughes, went 1-3 with a 3.27 ERA in those six starts.
Steve Carlton started two of the first five games in each of 15 seasons with the Phillies from 1972 to 1986.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: What happens to the games the Phillies were supposed to play before they were postponed last week by the coronavirus? — “Super Speedy” via email.
Answer: Thanks, “Speedy.” The Phillies were scheduled to play four games last week against the Yankees and three vs. the Blue Jays. They’ll make up the four Yankees games this week instead of playing three games against the Marlins.