At Los Angeles, July 16-18
It's likely Roy Halladay will return sometime during this series, providing a jolt to a battered rotation. Since Halladay's injury on May 27, the Phillies are 12-26. Only one team has a worse record in all of baseball in that period than the Phillies: Houston. The Phillies have lost nine games in the standings to Washington since then.
Vs. Milwaukee, July 23-25
This series is interesting on a number of levels. Both teams are mediocre after making the postseason in 2011, and are hanging onto faint hopes of contending in the second half of 2012. Both teams have front-line starting pitchers who could hit the trade market in Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke. If one team decides to hold onto its ace, it could significantly raise the value of the other.
At Washington, July 31-Aug. 2
Well, this could be awkward. The Phillies will be at Nationals Park on the day of the trade deadline and the contrast could be stunning if the Phillies continue to flounder. Washington could be loading up for a pennant race while the Phillies sell off whatever remaining commodities they have. Plus, Jayson Werth is aiming for a return from a wrist injury during the series.
Vs. Arizona, Aug. 3-5
The Phillies play 19 of their 29 games in August at home, and this is the first such series. If they are to make up serious ground in the divisional and wild-card races, it will have to happen at Citizens Bank Park. Under Charlie Manuel, the Phillies have a .584 winning percentage at home. But they are a paltry 17-27 there in 2012. The Phillies have not finished with a sub-.500 record at home since 2000 at a dilapidated Veterans Stadium.
At Houston, Sept. 13-16
Last season, the Phillies celebrated another postseason berth with a victory at Minute Maid Park. Could they be mathematically eliminated from winning their sixth straight National League East crown in 2012 during their trip to Texas? It's not a stretch.
The Phillies and all Major League Baseball teams have until 5 p.m. Friday to sign their draft picks. The Phillies were not one of the six teams with unsigned first-round picks going into Thursday.