Results tagged ‘ Wild Card ’

Manuel: We’re In It

OK, so last week people asked if I thought the Phillies had a chance to win a National League Wild Card.

“Sure,” I said, “but it would take a miracle.”

I said that because the Cardinals had an eight-game lead over the Phillies, who only had 25 games to play. To put that into perspective, the Cardinals were on pace to finish 87-75, which meant the Phillies needed to finish 21-4 (.840) to tie, while the Cardinals needed to finish just 13-12. In other words, even if the Phillies finished a ridiculous 21-4, it would not matter if the Cardinals got on a little bit of a winning streak.

But then the past week happened.

  • Thursday: 8 games back
  • Friday: 7 1/2
  • Saturday: 6 1/2
  • Sunday: 6
  • Monday: 5
  • Tuesday: 4
  • Wednesday: 3

Now the Phillies are three behind with 19 to play. This weekend sets up nicely for the Phillies, too. I know everybody is going to say, well, they should sweep the Astros because the Astros stink. But allowing for the fact crazy things happen in baseball, let’s say they take 3 of 4. I think Phillies fans should be pulling for the Cardinals and Dodgers to split their four-game series this weekend at Dodger Stadium. And if that doesn’t happen you want the Dodgers to take 3 of 4. You definitely don’t want the Cardinals having a good weekend with their next nine games coming against the Astros and Cubs.

If the Phillies take 3 of 4 from the Astros and the Dodgers and Cardinals split, the Phillies would open Monday’s series in New York just two back with 15 to play. If the Dodgers take 3 of 4, the Phillies would be chasing the Dodgers, but still down 2 with 15 to play.

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Jimmy Rollins got hammered late last month for not hustling on a pop up, but he has been on a tear since. Coincidence or not, he is hitting .314 (16-for-51) with two doubles, four home runs, nine RBIs and a .934 OPS since Charlie Manuel benched him in that Aug. 30 game against the Mets. His 19 homers lead the team. It looks like he will be the first Phillies shortstop to ever lead a team in home runs in a single season.

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?

Keeping Things Interesting

The Phillies swept the Rockies this weekend, which is exactly what they had to do to give themselves a shot at a National League Wild Card.

A wild card remains a long shot, but it is better than no shot at all.

The Cardinals currently hold the second Wild Card. They are on pace for 86 wins. The Phillies would need to finish 17-5 (.772) to finish 86-76. Possible? Sure. But keep in mind the Phillies are 32-20 (.615) since July 13, 24-14 (.632) since the July 31 trade deadline and 12-4 (.750) in their last 16 games. They would need to play even better than they have played recently to reach 86. Yes, every one of the teams ahead of the Phillies in the Wild Card standings could struggle the rest of the way, meaning the Phillies would not need to win 86 games to make the postseason, but the odds are stacked against it.

Here is a look at the remaining schedules for the Wild Card contenders:

  • BRAVES (nine games at home, 12 on the road): home vs. Nationals (3), Marlins (3) and Mets (3); road vs. Brewers (3), Marlins (3), Phillies (3) and Pirates (3). They play six games against teams with winning records, but six against the Brewers and Phillies.
  • CARDINALS (nine games at home, 13 on the road: home vs. Astros (3), Nationals (3) and Reds (3); road vs. Padres (3), Dodgers (4), Cubs (3) and Astros (3). They play 10 games against teams with winning records.
  • DODGERS. (10 games at home, 11 on the road): home vs. Cardinals (4), Rockies (3) and Giants (3); road vs. Diamondbacks (2), Nationals (3), Reds (3) and Padres (3). They play 13 games against teams with winning records.
  • PIRATES (nine games at home, 14 on the road): home vs. Brewers (3), Reds (3) and Braves (3); road vs. Reds (3), Cubs (4), Astros (3) and Mets (3). They play nine games against teams with winning records, but three against the Brewers.
  • BREWERS (12 games at home, 10 on the road): home vs. Braves (3), Mets (3), Astros (3) and Padres (3); road vs. Pirates (3), Nationals (4) and Reds (3). They play 10 games against teams with winning records.
  • PHILLIES (nine games at home, 13 on the road): home vs. Marlins (3), Braves (3) and Nationals (3); road vs. Astros (4), Mets (3), Marlins (3) and Braves (3). They play nine games against teams with winning records.

Only the Pirates finish the season with more games on the road than the Phillies, although only the Braves play fewer games against teams with winning records.

Let’s say it takes 85 wins to win a wild card. The Phillies would need to finish 16-6. That means they would need to take 2 of 3 in every remaining three-game series, plus sweep this weekend’s four-game series against the lowly Astros in Houston. If the Phillies lose just one three-game series (certainly possible considering they play the Nationals twice), then obviously they’d need to sweep another one of those three-game series.

The Phillies have almost no margin for error, plus they need the continued cooperation of the team’s ahead of them in the standings. It’s a long shot, but the games should be meaningful. And meaningful games in September is always better than the alternative.

Clinched! (Kind of)

The Phillies clinched a postseason berth with today’s 1-0 victory over Houston.

I was thinking what would have happened if this had happened five years ago. If you recall, the Phillies clinched the 2007 National League East championship on the final day of the season. But what would have happened had the Phillies been cruising to the division title in ’07 — following a 14-year absence from the postseason — and clinched the NL Wild Card a few days earlier? Would they have celebrated?

It’s tough to say, but one thing is certain: there was no way they were celebrating a Wild Card berth today.

Wild card? As Cliff Lee would say, “Whatever.”

This team has bigger fish to fry. I can’t crawl into every player’s head, but I certainly get the sense this team is focused on one thing: a World Series championship. You have guys that have been on this team and have fallen short (Roy Halladay, Raul Ibanez, Roy Oswalt, Placido Polanco, etc.), guys that have never made the postseason (Hunter Pence) and a guy that passed up millions because this is where he thought he could win a World Series (Cliff Lee). There are a lot of hungry players on this team. A lot of people that believe this is the team’s best shot to bring a parade to Broad Street.

Wild Card? Puh-leeze.

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