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Analysis

The Phillies’ path to the playoffs


With just three games remaining, the Philadelphia Phillies are nearing the end of the 2020 regular season. For the first time in years, they will have something to play for in the final weekend.

The Phillies will need a big weekend from Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto to make the playoffs. (Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Despite a brutal series against the Washington Nationals in which they lost three of four, the Phillies still have a shot to make the playoffs. They sit a half-game behind the Miami Marlins for the second spot in the NL East and are in the mix with the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants for the last two wild card spots.

It all comes down to a final series against the top team in the American League: the Tampa Bay Rays. The Phillies have Vince Velasquez, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola all lined up to pitch.

Since all ties will be decided mathematically and there are no “Game 61s”, here are the tiebreakers to keep in mind going into this final weekend:

  • The Reds and Marlins both own tiebreakers over the Phillies no matter how this final weekend plays out.
  • The Phillies own the tiebreaker over the Giants.
  • The Cardinals have to win two of five against the Brewers to gain the tiebreaker over the Phillies.
  • The Brewers have to take four of five in that series to gain the tiebreaker over the Phillies.

Here are all the different potential scenarios for the Phillies this weekend, and what it would take for them to reach the postseason if they occur:

Phillies sweep Rays

A sweep of the best team in the American League would leave the Phillies at 31-29 on the season. If they pull this off, they will grab the second spot in the NL East if the Marlins go 2-2 down the stretch against the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees.

If the Marlins fare better than that, though, the Phillies still have a shot. They would need two of the following things to happen in order to grab one of the remaining wild card spots:

  • Giants finish 3-2 or worse
  • Reds finish 1-2 or worse
  • Brewers finish 3-2 or worse
  • Cardinals finish 3-4 or worse

Phillies take two of three

The Phillies could still take the second spot in the NL East in this scenario. They would need the Marlins to go 1-3 or worse in their remaining four games for this to happen.

Similar scenarios exist for one of the final wild card spots, too, and two of the following would need to happen for the Phillies to sneak in:

  • Giants finish 2-3 or worse
  • Reds finish 0-3
  • Brewers finish 3-2 or worse
  • Cardinals finish 2-5 or worse

Phillies take one of three

The only way for the Phillies to take the second NL East spot would be for the Marlins to lose out. Their chances greatly decrease in this scenario, and they would need two of the following to take a wild card spot:

  • Giants finish 1-4 or worse
  • Brewers finish 2-3 or worse
  • Cardinals finish 1-6 or worse

Phillies get swept

The chance that the Phillies make the playoffs in this scenario is extremely low, and they would have no way of taking the second spot in the NL East. Two of the following would need to happen:

  • Giants finish 0-5 or worse
  • Brewers finish 1-4 or worse
  • Cardinals finish 0-7

No matter what the Phillies do, a playoff spot is far from a guarantee. Their best shot will be to take care of business in Tampa Bay this weekend.

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