By Joseph Santoliquito

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After 90 games, the Phillies sit at 47-43, 6.5 games behind the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves. Last year, when the Phillies were a weaker team, they were 51-39 after 90 games, a game up in first place.

What’s been the problem? For one, pitching.

The Phillies enter the second half of their season having given up a National League-high 153 home runs.

These next seven home games could help bring the Phillies into a better place. They play three games against the Washington Nationals and four games against the National League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Phillies are a combined 0-6 against those teams the last time they met. The Nationals pose a big problem right now.

In May, the Nationals were 19-31 — and were 10 games behind the first-place Phillies. Since then, they’re 28-11 and blew right by the Phillies in the NL East.

Friday and Sunday don’t bode well for the Phillies. Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 3.64 ERA) goes Friday night against Phils’ starter Nick Pivetta, who in his last four starts has a 7.33 ERA.

Patrick Corbin (7-5, 3.34 ERA) goes against Aaron Nola on Saturday, presenting the Phillies with their best chance to win.

On Sunday, Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.30 ERA) gets the start and it doesn’t matter who the Phillies will throw against him. Scherzer tops MLB in strikeouts (181). The Phillies may go with Jake Arrieta, who has a 6.63 ERA in his last seven starts, on Sunday.

The Phillies need to go at least 5-2 over these next seven games. That 5-2 mark can easily be 2-5.

Bryce Harper, the $330-million man, is hitting .253 with 16 homers with 62 RBIs.

In comparison, former Phillie Freddy Galvis is hitting .270 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs. Harper has struck out 105 times — Galvis 81 times. Harper could surpass his career-high 169 whiffs last year.

Right now, if the Phillies don’t change their course, this season will quickly lose its relevance and the fanbase will question their offseason moves.

Joseph Santoliquito