The Philadelphia Phillies are currently on the South Side of Chicago, awaiting the start of a series with the White Sox. It’s a wait that is taking an extra day on top of what was expected, as Monday’s series opening game was postponed due to cold weather and the threat of snow. Hey, welcome to Chicago in April, right? Now, the teams are scheduled to play a double header on Tuesday, the first of the year for both squads. Luckily for the Phillies, in spite of the injuries that have plagued their starting rotation early this season, it seems like they will actually be able to withstand the twin-billing without having to get a spot start from a minor leaguer. As of now, the starting pitching matchups for Tuesday’s games are Zack Wheeler vs. Lance Lynn in Game 1, and Bailey Falter vs. Lucas Giolito in Game 2. They aren’t easy matchups for the Phillies, but it’s better than those Christopher Sanchez vs. other teams’ aces double headers that we saw last year. Progress.
Now, here’s the next question: does a double header help or hurt the Phillies’ chances to win (or maybe even sweep) a series in Chicago? It’s a great question, and one we’ll have the answer to in under 24 hours, but in the meantime, we can still make a guess. Recent performances show that the Phillies are playing very boom or bust baseball right now; just look at their last 2 games. They finished up their series in Cincinnati with the Reds by losing 13-0 and then winning 14-3. We’ve seen this multiple times already on the young season for Philly, which can be troubling or encouraging depending on how you look at it. If you get one of those days where the Phillies are tearing the cover off the ball, it would certainly behoove the team to play multiple games that day, right? On the other hand, if it’s a 13-0 type of implosion day, you’re in for a rough couple hours of baseball. I know, I know. I’m basically making the argument that if the team plays well, double headers are good, and if they play poorly, they stink. Not exactly rocket science, but coming off of the offensive explosion they had in the final game of Cincy, I feel much more comfortable with 2 games in one day to start the series. The White Sox haven’t won a series yet this year, and the Phillies now have an opportunity to take this series in one day.
That, to me, is a positive, but there’s more than just these two games in play. Does this double header mess up the pitching rotation for later games this week? Well, if you trust ESPN, then it doesn’t look like it will. Zack Wheeler, who had his start pushed back a day to start Game 1 of the double header on Tuesday, is still scheduled to make his next start against the Colorado Rockies. It might be a bit of a shorter outing, but with Taijuan Walker scheduled to throw for Game 3 of the Sox series, it doesn’t appear the Phils will need a callup to survive this one. That’s another pleasant development based on the teams’ prior struggles with finding starters for these situations. On top of all of this, the Phillies hadn’t had a day off since April 6th. That’s not a back breaking stretch, but a day to recover could help them pull out of this early season skid. Final conclusion on the double header: it’s not the perfect scenario, but it seems more likely to help the Phillies than significantly hurt them. Let’s play two.