Four Back, 20 to Play
Roy Halladay recently changed his warmup music from Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick/Good Times Bad Times to Tears for Fears’ Mad World.
Mad World seems fitting because the Phillies woke up this morning four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card with 20 games to play. Remember when the Phillies were 14 games under .500 on July 13? Remember when they traded Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton? Crazy how quickly things change. Now, that said, the Phillies still face incredibly long odds to make the postseason. They need to keep up their torrid pace — their 14-4 record since Aug. 22 is tied with the A’s for the best record in baseball — and they need the Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates and Brewers to continue to lose.
But a postseason berth looks a little more realistic with every Phillies victory and every Cardinals loss. I mean, the Phillies were eight games behind St. Louis just last Wednesday.
Now let’s say the the second Wild Card gets in with 85 victories. Here is how the Wild Card contenders need to finish to reach that mark:
- Cardinals: 10-10.
- Dodgers: 11-9.
- Pirates: 13-8.
- Brewers: 14-6.
- Phillies: 14-6.
The Cardinals finish their three-game series in San Diego this afternoon before opening a big four-game series this weekend against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. I guess the best thing for the Phillies is those teams split, while the Phillies take care of business in their four-game series this weekend in Houston. The Phillies play their next eight games against the Marlins, Astros and Mets. You have to think they need to go at least 6-2 to have a shot going into the final 12 games of the season because the Phillies play nine of their final 12 against the Braves (three at home) and Nationals (three at home, three on the road). If the Phillies go 6-2 over this upcoming stretch they would need to finish 8-4 to finish with 85 wins. And that means they could not lose a series the rest of the way, unless they work in another sweep somewhere.
Once the Cardinals finish their series against the Dodgers, they play their next nine games against the Astros and Cubs, who are the two worst teams in baseball. So these next eight games are where the Phillies can really take a run and put some pressure on the Cardinals and the other teams in front of them.
There’s not any wiggle room for the Phillies, but there wasn’t any last week either. And they’ve responded. Can they keep it up?