September 25, 2020
The Phillies have been an infuriating and complicated baseball team to follow and cheer for in 2020.
They have the worst bullpen in the history of baseball and it has, without a doubt, cost them the ability to clinch a playoff spot. But even with a bullpen that sports an ERA of 7.17, the Phillies still have a chance of making the expanded sixteen-team playoff field.
Why? Well, for one, Alec Bohm should be seriously considered for NL Rookie of the Year. The third baseman has hit .333 this season, and is tied for the most hits (49) of all NL rookies. He has the most doubles (10), the most RBI (22) and the best on-base percentage (.401) of all qualified NL rookies.
The Phillies offense as a whole has done enough to keep them alive and kicking this year, as they've scored the fifth most runs in baseball, and have the third best on base percentage of all 30 teams. They've also gotten Cy Young stuff (at least until recently) from top starters Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.
They could be a dangerous team in the playoffs. They just need to get there.
Which brings us to the mountain of scoreboard watching that will be happening this weekend.
The Phillies play the Rays in Tampa and will probably need to win two out of three. That's the part they can control. But winning the series against the Rays to improve to 30-30 on the year won't be enough. They need some help.
|6. Cincinnati||29-28||3 vs. MIN|
|7. Miami||29-28||3 vs. NYY|
|8. San Francisco||28-28||4 vs. SD|
|9. Philadelphia||28-29||3 vs. TB|
|10. Milwaukee||27-29||4 vs STL|
The Phillies are currently a half game out of the final playoff spot and a full game out of the sixth spot (held by the Reds, who are currently sitting in the NL Central's guaranteed second spot) — though they don't hold many tie breakers, so they generally need to have a better record than a team to beat them out for a playoff spot.
The Phillies winning three of three games against the AL's top-seeded Rays would essentially make it so that a single loss from a team above them on that list above gets them into the playoffs. That's the simplest scenario.
If the Phillies go 2-1 against Tampa, they can make the playoffs if one of a handful of things happen as well.
• If the Marlins get swept by the Yankees, the Phillies would win the automatic second NL East berth. If Miami and Philly tie, Miami owns the tiebreaker. The Yanks do have something to play for, as they are currently slotted (at 32-25) sixth in the AL. They can theoretically move as high as second in the league to host a home series in the first round with a sweep.
• If the Reds get swept by the Twins, slotted second in the AL (35-22) and the Brewers took that berth, the Phillies could get a wild card berth. Minnesota is vying for the top seed. Cincinnati owns the tiebreaker.
• If the Giants, ironically coached by former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, lose two games against the already playoff-bound Padres, the Phillies own the tiebreaker and would get in with a 30-30 record.
The Phillies would also make the postseason if they win one of three games in Tampa, if the Giants win just one of their games this weekend, and they each have a 29-31 record. The same is true of the Brewers, with whom Philly owns a tiebreaker.
This will change a bit every single day — but the Phillies have a chance and if they are able to win with their two aces on the mound on Saturday and Sunday, they could prolong their season.
If sports books are any indication, there does seem to be a little confidence in the Phillies' favor. According to TheLines.com's consensus odds to win the NL pennant, the Phillies — at +1800 — are tied for the sixth best odds (via FanDuel) and the seventh best odds (via BetRivers).
The series opener against Tampa starts at 6:40 p.m. Friday evening.
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