Over the last few seasons, the Phillies struggled against opponents they should have been defeating on a consistent basis. Elite teams in baseball have the ability to do this, and that’s what separates them from the rest of the pack. Who knows if manager Ryne Sandberg truly believes he has an elite team, but it’s clear he does have one that should record some wins over the next few days.
Today, the Phillies begin a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs, a team that has very minimal expectations for the 2014 season. For Philadelphia — a franchise that has the third-highest payroll in the major leagues — winning at least two games over the course of the weekend should not only be expected, but considered necessary.
After their series in Chicago, the Phillies return home for a stretch of 10 games. That stretch includes three games against both the Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins, both franchises that right now are far from formidable in the grand scheme of things.
It’s similarly important because after playing the Brewers and Marlins, the Phillies will play four games against the Atlanta Braves before heading out west to undertake a terrorizing stretch of 10 games in 10 days. Philadelphia’s work will certainly be cut out for them during that cluster of games, so they need to beat the teams they should now in order to offset the probable turbulence headed their way.
It’s important that Sandberg doesn’t put too much pressure on his team in games like this. However, he should get the message across that the next few days present an excellent opportunity to recoup the wins the Phillies saw slip from their grasp just days ago. It all starts this weekend against the Cubs.