Alright, so the Phillies currently sit at 69-71. They’re 24-14 since the trades of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, and 32-21 since the All-Star Break. They currently sit 17 games behind the Nats in the East…yeah. No. Not happening.
But do they have a chance to make a run at the second Wild Card spot?
The way it appears now, the Braves are a different team now than they were last September. They have a pretty firm grasp on the 1st spot and will host the one game playoff. The question is, who will there opponent be? Right now it stands to be the Cardinals, who currently sit at 75-65 and 1 game above the Dodgers, who are losing at this moment to San Francisco 4-0. The Pirates are 2.5 games back, but appear to be falling fast as they were just swept by the Cubs (!) this weekend. The Brewers are 6 games back, sitting 6 games back and 2 games under .500 at 69-71 and have been playing really good baseball.
Then, standing right next to the Brewers, are the Phillies. They also sit at 69-71 and 6 games back. Also like the Brewers, they have been playing their best baseball of the season over the last few weeks.
Now, let’s look at the teams ahead of the Phillies. The Dodgers have a brutal schedule down the stretch, playing 2 in Arizona, 4 against St. Louis, a 9 game road trip including Washington and Cincinnati, the two best teams in the NL, plus the Padres. Then they come home for 6 against the Rockies and Giants to close out the season. The Dodgers don’t seem to be in sync and, in my opinion, will begin to fade away.
The Pirates, who are playing terrible baseball as of late, have a somewhat easy schedule, but they must play Milwaukee, Atlanta, and 6 more games against the Reds. They’re really in a freefall and I don’t think need to be worried about.
The Brewers also have a tough schedule. They have 3 against Atlanta this week, 4 against the Nationals and 2 against the Reds. They do have easier teams like the Mets, Pirates, Astros as well. They will likely finish the season around .500.
The Cardinals have a somewhat favorable schedule, playing San Diego, Houston twice, and Chicago. However, they do end their season on a 6 game homestand against the Nationals and Reds, and they will both likely have things locked up. Hopefully, they play their players and keep the integrity of the game up, similar to Charlie Manuel last year when the Cardinals were trying to catch the Braves. The Cardinals also have a crucial 4 game series in LA next weekend.
Now, we come to the Phillies. The Phillies have the most favorable schedule of all the teams coming down the stretch. Their next 10 games include Miami, and then on the road against Houston and the Mets. Houston has historically been a hellhole for this team, similar to Pittsburgh, but Houston is just so bad that hopefully their luck can change. The Mets have owned the Phillies this year, but the one series they did win against the Mutts came up at Citi Field, and maybe if the Phillies actually have something to play for they’ll will their way past a beaten and dead team. It gets tougher after that, with a 6 game homestand against the Braves and Nationals. In their last 6 games against these teams, the Phillies are 5-1. They’ll need to keep that going if they want to make this run. Again, though, if they’re still in it at this point they’ll have gained a lot of momentum and hopefully confidence against these two teams. Finally, they end their season on a 6 game road trip to Miami and Washington. The last time the Phillies were in these two stadiums they took 2 of 3, but they’ve also lost a series in Washington and been swept in Miami before this year.
So, let’s crunch some numbers now. The way I see it, realistically the maximum win total for the Phils this year is 85 wins. In order for the Phillies to get to 85 wins, they’d have to go 16-6. For the Cardinals to get to 85 wins, they’d have to slow down and go 10-12. The Dodgers would have to go 11-11 (11-10 assuming they lose to SF tonight). The Pirates would have to go 13-10 to get there. Milwaukee would also have to go 16-6 to get to 85 wins.
So the question is: is it possible the Phillies can do this?
Like I said before, I think the Dodgers will fade. With that schedule, I think it will be extremely difficult for them to go .500 in that stretch. The Pirates, with the way they’ve been playing, I STRONGLY doubt they can pay to the tune of 13-10 down to the end. Milwaukee just doesn’t impress me outside of Ryan Braun, so I really don’t think they can go 16-6. But can the Phillies do it, either? The Brewers may have a better offense, but the Phillies have a far superior pitching staff. 3 of 5 games they’ll have one of Halladay, Lee, or Hamels going. Halladay and Lee have been finding a groove as of late, and Hamels has been consistent all year. Even Cloyd and Kendrick have stepped up of late, but I question whether they can both sustain it. St. Louis is not playing well recently, and Carlos Beltran has really been struggling. They’re going to need him to turn it around, or otherwise they might just finish at that 10-12 mark. They way they’ve been playing lately, there’s a chance they could.
Can the Phillies pull off a miracle run and sneak into the postseason? It’s crazy to think, with the way they played earlier in the season and the hole they dug themselves. But while it may be crazy, it may be improbable, it is NOT impossible.
I’ll leave it up to all of you to form your own opinions, but I just have one last thing to say…
YA GOTTA BELIEVE!!!