The Philadelphia Phillies might be out of the National League East race, but to think they won't play a huge role in determining the division champion this September would be silly. The club has 12 games remaining with the Braves and Nationals, nine of which will be played in the final two weeks of the season.
Given that the Phillies are now healthy, you can bet they're going to give whatever opponent they face on any given night a lot of trouble.
For the first time all year, the Braves will be Philly's three-headed beast: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. The original pitching probables had Hamels pitching earlier in the week, but an intestinal virus kept him from making his scheduled start. Now he'll pitch on Sunday.
The Phillies are largely the same team Atlanta saw at the end of July. Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence are gone, and catcher Carlos Ruiz remains on the disabled list. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard continue to hit well since returning from the DL, although neither player resembles what they once were a few seasons ago.
This is a big series for the Braves. They enter 5.5 games back of the Nationals with only three head-to-head matchups remaining. No lead in the standings is ever safe in baseball -- Atlanta fans would know this better than just about anyone -- but if Chipper and the boys are going to make a move in the NL East, they better get to it sooner rather than later.
Pitching Probables & Start Times:
Friday, 7:35 p.m. ET - Mike Minor (7-10, 4.71 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (8-7, 3.88 ERA)
Saturday, 4:05 p.m. (FOX) - Tim Hudson (13-4, 3.57 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (3-7, 3.67 ERA)
Sunday, 5:05 p.m. - Paul Maholm (2-3, 2.45 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (14-6, 2.99 ERA)
For more on the Braves, check out Talking Chop.