September 04, 2019
With Labor Day Weekend now in the rearview and the official start of fall just around the corner, daylight isn't the only thing that's going to be growing shorter now that we're in September. That's because with just 25 games remaining until the end of the regular season, the window for the Phillies to make a run at the playoffs is also closing more rapidly with each passing day.
After dropping two of three to the Mets over the weekend and taking the first two from the Reds, the Phillies now must catch fire — and quickly — before time runs out on the 2019 campaign. They enter play on Wednesday 2.5 games out of the final National League wild card spot.
And things aren't about to get any easier for Gabe Kapler's club.
As Paul Hagen pointed out in his Tuesday column, the Phillies have the toughest schedule of any contender heading down the stretch:
Then there’s the schedule. After finishing in Cincinnati on Thursday, the Phillies are scheduled to play 19 straight against contending teams – 13 of them on the road – before closing out the season at home against the Marlins. Based on records, that’s the most difficult gauntlet of any of the teams still in the scrum.
It's going to be hard to string together a bunch of wins — especially since their longest streak of the season is just four games — playing on the road against teams still in the postseason race. On the flip side, the Phillies aren't getting much help from those contending teams, as they continue to keep pace, meaning those teams ahead of them in the standings don't look like they're about to roll over and give up their spot any time soon.
In other words Philly will need to go on a run if it hopes to get into the postseason. In the meantime, here's a look at where they stand with just under a month left to play in the regular season...
|WHAT THEY'RE SAYING...|
|13 (+1)||This season certainly felt like the do-or-die season for Maikel Franco. With his option to Triple-A and sub-zero bWAR, it looks like his Phillies career is in jeopardy.|
|14 (--)||Bryce Harper launched his 30th home run of the season and Rhys Hoskins slugged his 26th and 27th as the Phillies earned a 7-1 win over the Reds on Monday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. That came after they beat the Mets by a score of 5-2 on Sunday to avoid a weekend-series sweep. As it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, Philadelphia is 12 1/2 games back of first place in the National League East but only 2 1/2 games back of the second National League Wild Card spot. A lengthy winning streak would not only be nice but is also probably necessary.|
|13 (-1)||In Bryce Harper's disappointing season, he's gonna end up with his second-highest home run total and career high in RBI. People just have zero perspective with him.|
|15 (+1)||Of 28 September games, 21 are against teams above .500.|
|14 (-1)||Right-hander Vince Velasquez enters September with a 4.86 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 9.6 K/9, each number pretty much in line with his career performance, but the team really needs more. There is ace Aaron Nola, soft-tossing Jason Vargas and then a lack of rotation depth that the team can reliably trust. Velasquez has reached five innings and permitted no more than three earned runs in all but one of his past seven starts, which counts as reliable among this crew. With a road ERA more than a run worse than his home version, Velasquez must step up with his next scheduled starts, coming at Cincinnati and New York.|
[NOTE: Some of these rankings may have come out a day or two ago, and may not be taking the most recent game(s) into account.]