The Phillies begin an epic stretch of 33 games in 31 days to close out the 2011 season tonight in Cincinnati. That means no days off, 20 road games including three series against the NL Central, two day/night doubleheaders against the Marlins and Nationals respectively, and six more head to head games (the exact number of games by which they lead the NL East) with the second place Braves during that time. Admittedly, I missed baseball over the weekend, but this seems excessive.
Much of the compressed schedule is a direct result of working around Hurricane Irene that swept through the mid-Atlantic region this past weekend. The Sunday game of the Phillies/Marlins series was initially moved to Saturday afternoon due to expected flooding and assorted chaos, but that game along with Saturday night’s was ultimately postponed. Both of those games are now scheduled as part of a doubleheader on September 15. A game with the Washington Nationals from 8/14 will be part of a second late season doubleheader on September 20th. One upside is that both of these doubleheaders are home games in Philadelphia and they extend the Phillies final home stretch of the season from seven games to ten between September 15th and September 22nd.
That many games in that span of time is sure to tax Phillies pitching. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go to a six man rotation to compensate. In a season that’s already seem some extraordinary scheduling and performances, I suppose ending 2011 this way only makes sense. Hopefully pitchers and position players alike can stay healthy for the next month as everything kicks off tonight at 7:10PM.