Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Home Stretch

As August draws to a close, the N.L. East would appear to be firmly in the Mets grasp. However, since many of us remember “7 back with 17 to go” ever so fondly, we’ll hold off on signing those playoff bonuses for a little while. At least the Phils know what is in store and can start making their tee times for October. Take that, Mets!

EAST W L PCT GB STRK L10
Mets 72 58 .554 W1 8-2
Nationals 66 63 .512 5.5 W2 6-4
Braves 54 76 .415 18 L5 1-9
Phillies 52 79 .397 20.5 L1 5-5
Marlins 52 79 .397 20.5 L2 2-8

Offense

Despite the 2-5 record, this week was certainly not an indictment of the offense. The Phils found multiple ways to lose in getting swept by the Mets but they scored 21 runs in the 4 games. The ball was flying out of the yard a lot. Unfortunately, much more often by their opponents. One of the more surprising sights of late has been Cameron Rupp’s emergence as a long ball threat. Rupp has 6 HR and 16 RBI in August. Odubel Herrera has upped his average to .295 after a 4-4 Sunday. Aaron Altherr has 4 doubles, a triple and 2 HR’s in just 10 games with the big team. Not everyone is at the top of their game though. Cesar Hernandez is in a 2-25 slump over the last week while Freddy Galvis is just 6-28 in the same stretch. All in all, the youth is shining. Things are on an upswing as they play out the stretch.

Pitching

The youth is showing promise on the mound. Aaron Nola continues to get better start after start. Jerad Eickhoff’s first 2 outings have helped ease some concerns over the loss of Cole Hamels but hasn’t made anyone forget. The latest addition to the roster was Alec Asher who got his first start on Sunday and pitched fairly well but showed room for improvement. The bullpen…let’s just leave that alone. Overall, 40 runs in 4 games to the Mets is not what anyone was hoping for despite the disparity in the standings. With one month to go, including another tussle with the Mets this week, the majority of this roster is trying to make a name for themselves for next year. Let’s see who steps up.

Around the N.L. East

Mets– They started the week off by trouncing Phils 4 straight times then followed that up by losing 2 of 3 to the Red Sox. Their pitching will still be the key as they move towards October. Should it falter, shades of 2007 could go dancing in their heads. With 3 more against the Phils and 3 against the Marlins this week, they couldn’t ask for a much better way to kick off September.

Nationals– Hey! The Nats actually had a good week! The Nats took 2 of 3 from both the Padres and Marlins. Both sides of the ball were clicking and they are going to need that to continue if they have any chance of catching the Mets. At 5.5 games back with a month to go, they are going to need to start making a run. 3 games in St. Louis probably isn’t the way they want to start. 4 more against Atlanta, looking to play spoiler, could prove to be a pivotal series.

Braves– After a win to start the week against Colorado, the Braves went on to lose 5 straight to the Rockies and Yankees. The Yanks put up 38 runs in the 3 game series. They will face the marlins for 3 then get a chance to a) play spoiler or b) piss off a lot of Nats fans in a 4 game set in Washington.

Marlins– After dropping 5 of 7 to the Pirates and Nats, The Marlins are just coasting home. With 3 at Atlanta and 3 more at home against the Mets, the fish will also try and play spoiler, but more likely, will play the patsy in helping the Mets extend their lead.

As August ends and September begins, the Phils have a tough week ahead. 3 in New York and 3 in Boston could go a couple ways. Much like the Phils, this is not the Red Sox of the last 10 years but Fenway has not been a great spot for the Phils. The series with the Mets will be their priority though as they look to get some payback for this past week.

The last month will be worth watching as the Phils take on the Mets and Nats 12 times with a great opportunity to stick it to either or both of them. Will youth prevail? Let’s all watch and find out.