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Joe Girardi is fine with winning percentage determining postseason teams


Joe Girardi’s tenure as Philadelphia Phillies’ manager has gotten off to about as tumultuous a start as possible, most of which has been out of his control.

The Phillies’ 2020 season is already on pause. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Spring training was suspended in March, and didn’t resume until July because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Phillies lost two of three to the Miami Marlins in their opening series, at least in part due to a bullpen whose issues far predate his arrival. Now, the Phillies season has been forced to take a temporary pause because of a Coronavirus outbreak that has ravished the Marlins, who spent the past weekend in Citizens Bank Park. Girardi believes that the most important thing right now is the safety of everyone involved, even if it ultimately means that the Phillies and Marlins, among others, don’t play the full 60-game slate in 2020.

“My fear always is that if there’s one person that has it, there’s probably more,” Girardi said Tuesday on MLB Network Radio. “I don’t know if any of us thought that there would be…I think they are up to 17 cases now – 15 players and it’s devastating for the Marlins. There were some anxious moments for me Monday, there were some anxious moments for me today, not knowing the results I would get for my team. And I think it’s really smart of baseball to wait one more day, just because the incubation period is two to 14 days…and I know we can’t wait 14 days, but I think we have to be really smart about this.

“After thinking about it, I think this could happen more than this one time with an organization. And if everyone doesn’t play 60 games, I think that’s alright. We want to get to the playoffs, that’s the important thing. So, if a team plays 57 games, you go by winning percentage to take the playoff teams and you go from there.”

Eight teams from each league will make the postseason in 2020, the league announced on opening day.

Since Girardi spoke earlier today, Jon Heyman of MLB Network has been among those to report that the Phillies will not play again until Friday. That means that the two-game series scheduled to be played in Philly against the New York Yankees Monday and Tuesday won’t be played, with the same going for the two-game series that the clubs were slated to play Wednesday and Thursday at Yankee Stadium. With so few off days built into the 2020 schedule, it does appear to be a real possibility that the Phillies won’t be able to make up all four of these games. Given that the Yankees are in the American League and not directly competing with the Phillies for the postseason, perhaps they don’t have to.

Instead of the two-game series that the Yankees were scheduled to have against the Phillies on Wednesday and Thursday, they’ll instead play the Orioles in Baltimore on those two days. The Orioles had been scheduled to play in Miami on Monday and Tuesday, before hosting the Marlins on Wednesday and Thursday. That obviously cannot happen, given the current health of the Marlins team.

Even if the Phillies are able to make up their four missed games this week, the Marlins, off to a 2-1 start, almost certainly won’t be able to make up for the games they are missing. Heyman says that the Marlins are expected to be off until next Monday, meaning they will miss seven scheduled games. It’s one thing to have postseason slots determined by winning percentage if a team misses a series. It would be another if they miss a week’s worth of games.

The other issue here is that it’s difficult to know if the Marlins will be good to go next Monday. They currently are slated to be off on Monday (Aug. 3), though one would think if they are able to field a team, the league would like them to make up one of the games they lost this past week. The Phillies, ironically, are scheduled to travel to Miami for a three-game series against the Marlins next Tuesday-Thursday, though again, the Marlins will have to sign some new players, call up prospects that may not be ready or hope that a bunch of players who have tested positive can pass the league’s COVID-19 protocol and play in a major league game by early next week.

Before it was postponed, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Washington Nationals had voted not to go to Miami to play in their scheduled series this weekend. Even if the Phillies continue not to have any positive tests, they wouldn’t put themselves in a situation that could potentially risk their health, would they?

“I don’t think so,” Girardi said when asked if the Phillies would feel comfortable playing if a scenario like last Sunday presented itself in the future. “The fact that we haven’t had anyone test positive yet is great, but there’s too much at stake when you talk about players, and their health and their family’s health. There are guys that have little children at home…there are guys that have wives that are pregnant…or maybe they have a parent that is high risk. I just think there’s too much at risk here, not to say ‘Hey, we gotta back off for two days and let’s make sure [everything is safe]. Again, I think it’s smart what baseball is doing here, and then we’ll go from there.

“But we had some players that probably had some trepidation on Sunday, just because there’s close contact. The closest are probably the catcher and the first baseman. Rhys [Hoskins] wears a mask [at first base]. Well, that’s great for Rhys, but if the person who has it is not wearing a mask, Rhys’ likelihood of getting it is still higher than if they both had masks.”

Certainly, the safety of players and team personnel is the most important thing at play here. However, if the 2020 is going to be completed, what happens if the Marlins have another outbreak, or the Phillies, Yankees or Orioles, all of whom are now behind the eight ball on completing their schedule, have one? You’d be looking at four of the 30 teams in the league missing one-sixth of their schedule in the 2020 season or more.

Also of note is that the Phillies haven’t played a single one of their 10 scheduled games in Florida yet. Florida passed New York over the weekend for the most total COVID-19 cases. The Phillies will apparently host the displaced Toronto Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park this weekend. Don’t rule out the possibility that they could end up being the visiting team at Citizens Bank Park against the Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays later this season.

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