The 2018 Phillies will kick off their regular season schedule Thrusday in Atlanta, a 4:10 start that will pit Aaron Nola against Julio Teheran. The game will be the first of a 162-game marathon that many believe may find the Phillies above the .500 mark for the first time since the Chase Utley-Jimmy Rollins-Ryan Howard days of nearly a decade ago.
Here are the games we think are the most important — based both on the schedule, the time of year and the promotions/ceremonies to be conducted by the Phillies:
Thursday, April 5 vs Marlins (3:05 pm): The home opener will give Philly the first look at it’s up and coming squad — led by rookie manager Gabe Kapler. Every game against the lowly Marlins is a must-win for the Phillies as they chase a surprise Wild Card berth.
Sunday, April 8 vs Marlins (1:35 p.m.): Newly acquired ace Jake Arrieta is expected to make his Phillies debut in the Sunday matinee to wrap up their first home series.
Wednesday, April 25 vs. Diamondbacks (7:05 p.m.): The first Hatfield Dollar Dog day will reward hungry ballparkgoers against Arizona.
Thursday, June 14 vs Rockies (1:05 p.m.): The Phillies will honor 2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Jim Thome in a pre-game ceremony, which takes place on the 14th anniversary of Thome’s milestone 400th career home run.
June 25-to-June 27 vs Yankees (7:05 p.m.): The Phillies host the Bronx Bombers for a three-game set. Though potentially gruesome to watch, New York’s bashing duo of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge could put on a show in hitter-friendly Citizen’s Bank Park. Come early for batting practice.
June 28-to-July 1 vs Nationals: It only takes three months for the NL East favorite Nationals to visit Philly. It will be a true test of the Phillies maturity and competitiveness in this mid-season four-game series. There will also be postgame fireworkes on Friday and Saturday nights.
July 23-to-July 25 vs. Dodgers: The Phillies second series after the All-Star break will pit them against one of the best teams in baseball, last year’s NL Pennant winners the Dodgers.
Saturday, August 4 vs. Marlins (7:05 p.m.): In what will surely be the most emotional and moving game of the year, the Phillies will add the late, great Roy Halladay and Charlie Manual to the Wall of Fame in a pregame ceremony.
Sunday, August 19 vs Mets (7:10 p.m.): For the second straight year, MLB will show its support for Little League baseball as it holds a pro game in Williamsport, PA. The Phillies and Mets will wrap up a four-game set in front of some of the best young talent in the sport.
August 31-to-September 2 vs Cubs: The Phillies will host their last non-division opponent to start September in the NL Central favored Cubs.
September 28-to-September 30 vs Braves: Atlanta will return the favor as the Phillies and Braves wrap up the 2018 regular season in Philadelphia. Phillies fans can only hope this game has meaning in the standings.