Phillies might not have to deal with the most dangerous National this week originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Nationals are 1-4 against the Phillies and 6-26 against the NL East this season, but this still qualifies as a break: Juan Soto‘s availability for this week’s Phils-Nats series is in jeopardy.
Soto was removed from Sunday’s game with left calf tightness and underwent an MRI after the game. Given the Nationals’ place in the standings — their 29-52 record is third-worst in the majors — they will obviously proceed with caution with their franchise player.
The Nats finish a four-game series Monday with the Marlins as the Phillies are off. The teams then meet Tuesday through Thursday.
It’s been a down season by Soto’s standards. He’s hitting just .226, albeit with a .382 on-base percentage and 15 more walks than strikeouts. He hit .313 with a .465 OBP last season when he was the NL MVP runner-up to Bryce Harper.
Soto did very little when the Phillies took four of five from the Nationals two weeks ago. He went 1 for 14 with no extra-base hits or RBI in the first four games, then went 1 for 5 with a three-run homer off of Zach Eflin in the series finale.
The Nationals, who have the fewest strikeouts in the National League but also the fewest home runs and second-lowest run total, have been a doormat for the rest of the division this season. They’re 1-10 against the Marlins, 2-8 vs. the Mets, 1-4 vs. the Phillies and 2-4 vs. the Braves.
After this week, the Phils don’t see the Nats again until August 4. They’ll face each other 11 times in the final two months and the Phils will need to clean up in those games to make a credible push for a playoff spot.
The Phillies will recall left-hander Cristopher Sanchez from Triple A to start Tuesday’s series opener in place of Ranger Suarez, who was placed on the 15-day IL Sunday with a low back spasm. Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson will start Wednesday and Thursday.