Wheeler dominates again as Phillies remain hot against Nationals

Wheeler and Phillies win
Zack Wheeler mirrored Aaron Nola from the night before and put together an outstanding performance on Wednesday night, leading the Phillies to a 3-0 win over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

Wheeler tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, surrendering just three hits. He struck out six and lowered his ERA to 2.20 on the season.

Wheeler and Nola have combined to throw 14 2/3 scoreless innings over the past two nights, yielding just five hits while collecting 15 strikeouts. The Phillies now find themselves a win away from a four-game sweep of the Nationals while winning eight of their last nine contests.

With a 17-15 record, the Phillies sit three games behind the Braves in the NL East and hold the No. 5 seed in the NL playoff race. If the season were to end today, the Phillies would face the Padres in San Diego in the opening round of the playoffs in a best-of-three series.

The combination of Wheeler and Nola in a short series could prove to be a major difference-maker for the Phillies, right?

“I’m not going to even let you ask the question,” manager Joe Girardi said with a laugh on Wednesday.

Through seven starts, Wheeler is 4-0 with a 1.07 WHIP. He's been everything the Phillies had hoped for when the club inked him in December to a five-year deal worth $118 million.

“Everything has gone to plan so far,” Wheeler said. “It’s everything I wished. A lot of hard work. The people here are great. You know, you’ve got J.T. [Realmuto] back there, and he puts a lot of confidence in your pitches, calling stuff at certain times when maybe in the past I haven’t thrown a certain pitch in a certain count or a certain situation. But when he puts the fingers down, it boosts your confidence about that pitch.”

Neil Walker delivered a two-run single in the fourth to give the Phils a 2-0 lead. Jay Bruce added to the advantage with a solo blast in the sixth.

Walker was in the starting lineup as Girardi wanted to give Rhys Hoskins a day off.

“I’ve been just doing what I can to stay as sharp as I can,” Walker said. “Getting that spot start tonight, and being able to come through, is just icing on the cake.”

The Phillies go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon with Zach Eflin on the mound. He'll oppose Anibal Sanchez.

Honoring Dick Allen
The Phillies will retire jersey No. 15 on Thursday afternoon in honor of 1964 National League rookie of the year Dick Allen.

Allen was to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame by the Golden Days committee this December, but that vote has been moved to next year because of the pandemic.

Allen spent nine seasons in Philadelphia.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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