Evaluating the Phillies’ Postseason Chances

Story posted September 22, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Maclain Young

With just a week to go until the MLB postseason begins, the Philadelphia Phillies are hanging by a thread in the NL playoff race. Do the Phils have enough in the tank to clinch a playoff spot or even make a deep run in October?

Following three ugly losses to the division rival Nationals, the Phillies have a 37% chance of making the postseason according to FanGraphs. They’ve struggled down the stretch, losing five out of seven to the Miami Marlins before the Washington series.

If the Phillies had won five or even just four of those seven games, their playoff spot would be all but clinched. Now the team must take care of business against the blistering hot Tampa Bay Rays in order to have a shot at postseason play.

The Nationals are last in the National League East, but they looked determined to make a statement in this ongoing series against Philadelphia. Washington cruised past the Phillies with a 5-1 victory on Monday, then took both halves of a doubleheader on Tuesday.

It’s obvious the Phillies are stumbling to the finish line, so an outsider might immediately write them off if they do eke into the postseason. However, with the shortened three-game series that will open the playoffs, the Phils do have a fighting chance.

The combination of aces Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler could easily result in a Phillies upset victory. Offseason acquisition Wheeler has gone 4-1 with 2.67 earned run average this season, while Nola has gone 5-3 with a 2.92 ERA. The duo has proven to be one of the MLB’s best one-two punches. If the Phillies can slip into the postseason, don’t be surprised if they beat one of the MLB’s best regular season teams.

But the elephant in the room still needs to be addressed. It is no guarantee that the Phillies will make the playoffs at all.

Before the Marlins series, the Phils had close to a 90% chance at a playoff berth. Now it’s closer to a coin flip. Their performance has been trending downward, and intensity is nowhere to be found. The team has lacked heart, energy and alertness over the final stretch of the regular season. If the Phillies’ performance against Washington continues into the series continues against Tampa Bay, the postseason is just a pipe dream. 

On top of this, this team has had a historically bad bullpen, boasting a ridiculous ERA around 7, and the star players have failed to produce. If the Phillies drop out of the playoff picture in the final couple games, it will have been for the third-straight year of Bryce Harper’s 13-year $330 million mega deal that the team has done so.

If the Philadelphia Phillies somehow make it into the playoffs with the way they are playing, it will show why the MLB only allows five teams per league to make the postseason in a normal year. However, if the team can rebound in any way during the final games, there’s a chance they make noise in the early portions of the postseason. All Phillies fans can do is sit and watch.

 

Maclain Young is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email macyoung21@gmail.com.