We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday.  Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.

When might we see Scott Kingery get a start?

The Phillies took all three games from the Atlanta Braves in impressive fashion.  The offense led the way, scoring 23 runs along the way.  In all three games, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler played the same lineup, and why not, given their success?

That has meant that players such as Scott Kingery have not had many opportunities in the early going.  All three games combined, Kingery had just one at bat.  That's to be expected in some respects, as he is the lone middle-infield reserve.  Kingery may get a start this series, though.

The Opening game of the two-game set in Washington D.C. is Tuesday night (tonight) against Nationals ace pitcher Max Scherzer.  The Nationals, like the Phillies, have had two off days.  The Nationals decided to put Scherzer ahead of not only the fifth starter, but also the fourth starter.

That means the Phillies will send out Zach Eflin for game one and Aaron Nola will jump Vince Velasquez to pitch game two against Anibal Sanchez.

The Phillies could approach the series in two ways.

The first scenario the club could play the same lineup that scored so many runs tonight against Scherzer, arguably the toughest pitcher the club could face in the game, along with Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets.

Then, Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. when the likes of J.T. Realmuto will not start, maybe the Phillies would consider resting another regular, such as Cesar Hernandez, coming off of a Spring injury, or Maikel Franco.

Or, the Phillies could play match-ups.  Kingery has faced Scherzer just twice.  In each plate appearance, Kingery had a hit.  Maybe the Phillies will give Kingery a shot against Scherzer.  Hernandez has 40 at bats against Scherzer, batting .200 (which is one of the better averages from current Phillies) and Franco has 24, batting .125 in that span.

Either way, I think the odds are good we will see Kingery start one game this series.

Do you see Jerad Eickhoff working his way back into the rotation this year?

The Phillies have a very deep starting pitching staff at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  The IronPigs just announced their starting rotation for the first week of games.  The rotation will be led by Jerad Eickhoff, who will pitch the opener.  But the IronPigs will open with a six-man rotation.

Tom Housenick of the Allentown Morning Call reported that the IronPigs will open with the following starting rotation:

  1. Eickhoff
  2. Cole Irvin
  3. Enyel De Los Santos
  4. Ranger Suarez
  5. Drew Anderson
  6. JoJo Romero 

Of these names, the first five could factor into the Phillies plans.

I think the Phillies are setting Eickhoff up to get back to his old form.  The extra day between starts will help Eickhoff rebuild his health without extra stress, while the younger players will not run up their innings, so they may help the big league club down the stretch.

The Phillies got contributions from De Los Santos, Suarez and Anderson last season, while Irvin is a real possibility in 2019.  Romero is the one player entering a new developmental stage.

So Eickhoff will be in prime position to help the big club, but so will the others.  That is why the Phillies do not feel compelled to go over the top for assistance in the starting rotation right now.  The Phillies could use any of these players to bridge the gap before acquiring a player at the July 31 trade deadline if the Phillies wish to go even bigger.

Mailbag Question- The magic number is 159 to win the NL East. What date in late August do we clinch the division and are the Dodgers or Brewers the better Matchup in the NLDS? :)

Greg's optimism I think is a bit premature.  However, this optimism is something might be for once grounded in reality.  The impressive series against the Atlanta Braves shows that Phillies team has great depth that they have not had in some time.  The series also accentuated that particularly without starter Mike Foltynewicz, the defending National League East champions are short in the pitching department.

The Phillies took a three-game lead on the Braves, are two ahead of the Washington Nationals, and one ahead of the New York Mets.  The Phillies will have a tough road ahead, particularly as they will have to regularly face starting pitching that on any day could shut down even the best teams.

The Mets have deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler.  The Nationals have Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin.  The Braves have Julio Teheran and will get Foltynewicz soon; he is scheduled to rehab at the Triple-A opener at Gwinett.

The Phillies will get some wins from the rebuilding Marlins, but so will the other teams.

The Phillies are deep, but the National League East is also deep.  If the Phillies were in the American League Central I might concede the division right now, but the Phillies will have a long way to go.  But they are certainly off to a good start.

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