Analysis

Philadelphia Phillies playoff picture: August 5


Phillies have gotten a solid first season from Bryce Harper, but need more from their superstar down the stretch in order to reach the postseason. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Our weekly countdown towards the end of the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season now reaches ‘8’ – just eight more weeks left for the Philadelphia Phillies as they attempt to return to the postseason for the first time in eight years.

The Phillies are coming off another disheartening weekend, one in which the club dropped two of three to the lowly Chicago White Sox, owners of the seventh-worst record in MLB even after winning the series.

Still, the Fightin’ Phils remain tied with the division-rival Washington Nationals for the second National League Wildcard playoff berth at the moment. Those two have just one more loss than the Saint Louis Cardinals, who currently control the top Wildcard spot. Two are available.

Three more teams are right behind the Phillies and Nationals, all in the race still. But the real threat may be coming from a team that was way back just a few weeks ago.

Another NL East rival, the New York Mets, have won 15 of their last 20 games to move within a game of the .500 mark and within three games in the Wildcard race. Having obtained Marcus Stroman at the MLB trade deadline, the Mets may have the best starting pitching among all the teams still in the hunt.

This current winning streak from New York makes them one of three teams from the division to get hot over a lengthy stretch. The Braves won 28 of 38 between June 1 and July 15 to take over the division lead. After a horrendous start, the Nats went 36-15 pver two full months from May 24 to July 24.

The Phillies are the only team to have no such streak this season. The club has won as many as four in a row on four different occasions, the last more than a month ago in late June. The saving grace for the Phillies is that they have largely avoided fully tanking. From May 30 to June 24, the club lost 16 of 22. Outside of that, they have just two streaks of as many as three losses in a row all season long.

Can the Phillies take their turn, and go on a true winning spurt? If so, they not only would likely open up some distance in the Wildcard race, but they would get back into the hunt for a division crown. Do they have another big losing downturn in them? If so, they drop out of things, much as what happened with the 2018 ball club. Or maybe they simply tread water all year long. That might be the outcome which causes more angina and hair loss among the fan base than any other.

The following are the division and Wildcard standings with this week’s schedules in parentheses:

 

NL EAST STANDINGS

  1. Atlanta Braves 66-47 (at MIN – 3, at MIA – 4)
  2. Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals 58-53 (Phillies: at ARZ – 3, at SF – 4)

 

NL WILDCARD STANDINGS

  1. Saint Lous Cardinals 58-52 (at LAD – 3, PIT – 3)
  2. Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals 58-53 (Nats: at SF – 3, at NYM – 3)
  3. Milwaukee Brewers 57-56 (at PIT – 3, TEX – 3)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants 56-56 (Dbacks: PHI – 3, at LAD – 3) / (SF: WAS – 3, PHI – 4)
  5. New York Mets 55-56 (MIA – 4, WAS – 3)

 

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