NL East

Atlanta Braves

2019: 97-65. Won second consecutive division title, lost to Cardinals in five games in NLDS. Went 9-10 against the Phillies; were 33-27 in first 60 games.

Sked stuff: All three series (10 games total) against the Phillies are in August and are on the weekends.


  • Ronald Acuna, who turned 22 in December, last season became the youngest player to enter the 30-30 club. He had 41 dingers and 37 steals, but he failed to run out a ball during Game 1 of the NLDS, which besmirched an otherwise terrific series for him (.444 batting, 1.454 OPS).
  • The Braves have won consecutive division titles but haven’t won a playoff series since 2001, when Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were anchoring the rotation. Now it’s Mike Soroka (13-4, 2.68) and Max Fried (17-6, 4.02) at the top. Not Hall of Famers, but not bad.
  • Cole Hamels is on the roster, but he has been beset by arm trouble, including triceps tendinitis.
  • Phillies killer: Freddie Freeman hit the first of his 227 career home runs as a 21-year-old off Roy Halladay in 2010 and hasn’t stopped beating up the Phillies. Freeman considered opting out after testing positive for COVID-19 and battling the disease in early July.
Ronald Acuna Jr. had 37 stolen bases last season, including this one against the Phillies in July. Acuna, who turned 22 in March, is the youngest player ever to record at least 30 homers and 30 steals in a single season. He had 41 homers in 2019.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Ronald Acuna Jr. had 37 stolen bases last season, including this one against the Phillies in July. Acuna, who turned 22 in March, is the youngest player ever to record at least 30 homers and 30 steals in a single season. He had 41 homers in 2019.

Washington Nationals

2019: 93-69. Won franchise’s first World Series after qualifying as a wild card. Went 14-5 against the Phillies; were 27-33 in first 60 games.

Sked stuff: Six of the Nationals’ nine games against the Phillies are in Washington, where they went 8-1 against the Phils last season.


  • Ryan Zimmerman, 35, might just be a platoon player at this point in his career, but the Phillies won’t complain that he has opted out of this truncated season. Zimmerman has more hits and RBIs against the Phillies than any active player.
  • Top prospect Carter Kieboom will slide into the third-base job with Anthony Rendon hitting the jackpot (seven years, $245 million) with the Angels. Kieboom’s middle name is Alswinn, which is the first name of his Dutch father.
  • Safe to say that manager Dave Martinez is not a big fan of starting extra innings off with a runner on second base. “I haven’t met anyone so far that likes it,” he said this month.
  • Phillies killer: Stephen Strasburg is 9-0 in his last 14 starts against the Phillies, dating back to 2015. He has posted a 2.48 ERA in that span with 106 strikeouts in 90.2 innings. Yo.

N.Y. Mets

2019: 86-76. Went 7-12 against the Phillies; were 28-32 in first 60 games.

Sked stuff: The Mets were 3-7 at Citizens Bank Park last season.


  • Jacob deGrom is a slight favorite to win his third consecutive Cy Young Award, something done only by Hall of Famers Greg Maddux (1992-95) and Randy Johnson (1999-02), who each won four in a row.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is healthy again after missing nearly two years with heel and ankle injuries. The Mets think they might have the best DH in the division. “His bat can be a real impact and be a little bit of a separator for us as we compare ourselves to the rest of the teams in the league,” said general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
  • New manager Luis Rojas, who took over when Carlos Beltran was implicated in the Astros’ cheating scandal, was the quality control coach last year. His father is Felipe Alou. They are the fifth father-son duo to manage in the majors, joining Buddy and David Bell, Bob and Aaron Boone, George and Dick Sisler, and Bob and Joel Skinner.
  • Phillies killer: Rightfielder Michael Conforto has 19 home runs in 235 career at-bats against the Phillies — one every 12.4 at-bats. Against all other opponents, he has 90 bombs in 1,708 ABs — one every 19.0 at-bats.

Miami Marlins

2019: 57-105, third 100-loss season in franchise history. Went 10-9 against the Phillies; were 23-37 in first 60 games.

Sked stuff: Last of their 10 games against the Phillies is in Miami on Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. — same time as the Eagles open their season in Washington.


  • Still in rebuilding mode, the Marlins expect to improve on last year’s .352 winning percentage. In the reduced schedule, 24 wins would be .400 ball. If they played the Phillies every night, they’d probably get to .500.
  • Sixto Sanchez, acquired from the Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto deal, is not expected to open the season in the majors.
  • Career infielder Jonathan Villar, who hit 24 homers for the Orioles last year, will be seeing plenty of time in center field and at DH. Villar started six games in center for the Brewers in 2017 but has mostly played shortstop and second base in his first seven seasons.
  • Phillies killer: Jorge Alfaro, the other main part in the Realmuto deal, hits .258 againstthe rest of baseball. Against Phillies pitching, he hits .432 (19-for-44).

AL East

N.Y. Yankees

2019: 103-59. Second consecutive 100-win season, but lost to Houston in six in the ALCS; were 38-22 in first 60 games. Did not play the Phillies.

Sked stuff: Their four games against the Phillies are July 27-30. The first two are in South Philly, where Aaron Judge homered off Vince Velasquez in 2018, and played catch with a young fan between innings that same night.


  • If Gerrit Cole, whom the Yankees signed to a nine-year, $324 million contract in December, is the opening-day starter, that would project him to start on Tuesday, July 28, at Citizens Bank Park. Cole is 2-1 in three starts at CBP, having last pitched there in 2017 with the Pirates, when his annual salary was a paltry $3.75 million. This year, it is $36 million.
  • Closer Aroldis Chapman tested positive for COVID-19 and probably will miss the four early games against the Phillies. Zack Britton would take on the role.
  • Giancarlo Stanton is healthy again after missing most of last season with multiple injuries and the start of spring training with a strained calf. The 10-year veteran has 96 hits against the Phillies, 27 of them home runs. He’ll DH most of the season and probably hit cleanup.

Tampa Bay Rays

2019: 96-66. Lost to Houston in five games in ALDS in first postseason appearance since 2013; were 37-23 in first 60 games. Did not play the Phillies.

Sked stuff: The Phils’ final game of the season is in Tampa on Sunday, Sept. 23. It is slated to start at 3:10 p.m., when the Eagles-Bengals game figures to be in the third quarter.


  • The Rays made it to the playoffs last season despite a down year from Blake Snell. The 2018 Cy Young winner went just 6-8 and had his year interrupted by arthroscopic elbow surgery last July. Snell has looked good in camp this month.
  • They signed Japanese veteran Yoshi Tsutsugo after a secret meeting in December in California at a facility owned by Nolan Arenado. The Rockies star has the same agent (Joel Wolfe) as Tsutsugo (pronounced t-soo-TSOO-go).
  • Tampa Bay led the majors in innings pitched (772) and wins (56) by its bullpen last season. Reminder that MLB has enacted a three-batter minimum for relievers unless there’s an injury or the inning has ended.

Boston Red Sox

2019: 84-78. Slipped to third place in division after winning 2018 World Series. Went 2-2 against the Phillies; were 31-29 in first 60 games.

Sked stuff: The latest starting times of the Phillies’ 60-game schedule are the two in Boston (Aug. 18-19), which will be 7:30 p.m. Wonder if the ghost from Field of Dreams will be allowed to show up to an empty Fenway Park.


  • Finished 19 games back of the Yankees, traded David Price and Mookie Betts in a salary dump, fired manager Alex Cora for his involvement in the cheating scandal when Cora was a coach for the Astros, and lost No. 1 starter Chris Sale in March to Tommy John surgery. Oh, and Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Good thing the Bruins are good.
  • Designated hitter J.D. Martinez hit a major-league-best 124 homers over the last three seasons. He had 24 at-bats against the Phillies in that span. Zero homers. Martinez is 5-for-16 in his career at Citizens Bank Park (where Boston plays Sept. 8-9). All five hits are singles.
  • The first series against Boston (Aug. 18-19) starts an 11-day road trip for the Phillies, the longest of this bizarre season. The Phillies swept a two-game set in Fenway last August and then lost a pair at home three weeks later.

Toronto Blue Jays

2019: 67-95, most losses by a Blue Jays team in 39 years. Were 22-38 in first 60 games. Did not play the Phillies.

Sked stuff: The Phillies playing the Blue Jays probably in Buffalo seems about right for 2020.


  • The Phillies’ 23-37 regular-season record versus Toronto is their worst against any AL East team. They haven’t won a series against the Blue Jays since 2011, going 5-16 in that span. Yuck.
  • The Jays overhauled the top of the rotation by acquiring Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, and Chase Anderson. Ryu cashed in on his career year with the Dodgers last season (14-5, 2.32 ERA) with a four-year, $80 million deal from the Jays to become their ace.
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has moved from third base to first base in an attempt to ease defensive pressure. He hit .272 with 15 homers last season as a rookie.

Baltimore Orioles

2019: 54-108, a seven-game improvement from 2018, when the Orioles were 47-115 (yeesh). The O’s were 19-41 in their first 60 games. Did not play the Phillies.

Sked stuff: Their only series with the Phils is Aug. 11-13 at CBP. The Orioles were bad on the road last year (29-52) but even worse at home (25-26).


  • As of mid-July, the Orioles had the lowest payroll in baseball at $57.7 million, according to Spotrac. First baseman Chris Davis, who hit .179 with 12 homers in 105 games, makes $21.1 million — nearly 37% of the payroll. What’s worse is that he’s signed for two more years at the same number.
  • Second baseman Hanser Alberto, who bats right-handed, hit .398 off lefties last season, and his 88 hits (in 221 ABs) were the most since Tony Gwynn had 90 hits off lefties in 1987 (249 ABs, .361). It’s worth pointing out that Gwynn batted left-handed, which is generally a disadvantage facing lefties. He hit .325 off southpaws in his career. He was a machine.
  • Baltimore’s most productive hitter last season was RF/1B Trey Mancini, who slashed .291/.364/.535 and slugged 35 homers (at a salary of $575,000). But Mancini will miss this season as he battles Stage 3 colon cancer. Man, 2020 can’t get over soon enough.