The Phillies enter the second half of the 2016 season six games under .500 at 42-48, but 13 games better than they were at this time last year.
Cleary on the up-and-up, the next few months will be very important for the future of the franchise as it takes the next step toward relevancy. Here are some key dates to keep an eye on as the season continues:
July 22: The Phils embark on a 10-day road trip after two winnable home series against division foes the Mets and Marlins. The end of July could see the Phillies clinging to Wild Card hopes or out of contention as they travel to Pittsburgh, Miami and Atlanta to close out the month.
August 1: The nonwaiver trade deadline will be key for Philly. Will they find suitors for Jeremy Hellickson, Cameron Rupp or Carlos Ruiz? If so, will they be able to bring in more talent — close to big league ready like they did in the Cole Hamels, Ken Giles and Jimmy Rollins deals?
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August 12: Phillies Wall of Fame night will be a nice trip down memory lane and escape from what could be a late season slide for the Phillies. Jim Thome, who was a Phillie for only parts of four seasons ,will be this year’s inductee.
September 1: Rosters expand to 40 men and many Phillies fans will get a chance to see top prospects in South Philly like J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams and others. It will be their big chance to audition against MLB competition and show they deserve a spot on the team next season.
October 2: The regular season finale will likely be (if he is still around and not injured, cut or traded) the last game for Ryan Howard as a Phillie. It’s time to give Howard the standing ovation he deserves and send him off into the sunset after a career as one of the best Phillies’ sluggers to ever play the game.