Next 9 Games – Really, Next 39 – Will Show Exactly Who Phillies Are

"One day at a time" is probably the most oft-used baseball cliche, but that really is how the players take things. 

For everyone else, the baseball season exists in stretches. Homestands, road trips, long periods without an off day. The Phillies are coming off a nine-game homestand on which they went 5-4, with all three series coming against average to below average teams in the Reds, Marlins and Braves. 

But the Phils' next nine games, and really their next 39, will be significantly more challenging.

The Phillies begin a brief, six-game road trip on Monday night in Detroit. They'll face a Tigers team loaded with power before traveling to Chicago to face the majors' best team, the Cubs, at Wrigley Field.

After that, the Phillies return home for a three-game series against the Washington Nationals, who are clicking at the moment. Ben Revere looks primed for one of his late-spring surges, Anthony Rendon is finally hitting, and Max Scherzer is entering a dominant phase. Plus, the Nats have revenge on their minds after being swept by the Phillies last month in D.C.

It would be impressive if the Phillies could come out the other side of this nine-game stretch with a record of 4-5 or better. That would leave them five games over .500 with a winnable four-game series coming next against the Brewers.

But that four-gamer with Milwaukee and a series in Minnesota three weeks later are the Phils' only series against subpars team until July 4. Here's a look at their upcoming schedule:

May 23-25: at Tigers (3)

May 27-29: at Cubs (3)

May 30-June 1: vs. Nationals (3)

June 2-5: vs. Brewers (4)

June 6-8: vs. Cubs (3)

June 10-12: at Nationals (3)

June 13-14: at Blue Jays (2)

June 15-16: vs. Blue Jays (2)

June 17-20: vs. Diamondbacks (4)

June 21-23: at Twins (3)

June 24-26: at Giants (3)

June 27-29: at Diamondbacks (3)

July 1-3: vs. Royals (3)

That's 39 games, 32 of which are against teams that either boast strong offenses, solid starting pitching staffs or both.

You know the phrase, "You are what your record says you are?" Well the Phillies' record when they welcome the Braves back to Citizens Bank Park on July 4 will be who they actually are. They'll have played very good to great teams for over a month. If they succeed, the front office will feel more comfortable considering the team a legitimate contender for a wild-card spot. If they fail, the assumptions many have made that this winning is not sustainable will turn out to be true.

After this stretch of 39 games in 41 days, the Phillies will have played 83 games. They'll be just past the halfway point of the season. If they're even a game over .500 on July 4, then perhaps trading for a quality bat ahead of the trade deadline becomes worthwhile. 

Until then, it's too early to have the conversation. Games against the Braves, Reds, Marlins, Padres and Brewers don't paint an accurate enough picture — 25 of the Phillies' 44 games to this point have been vs. teams who are under .500 against their other opponents.

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