The Phillies erased a 6-0 deficit for the second time in a week to take the opener of a four-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. Before that, the Arizona Diamondbacks scored five-runs in the seventh and avoided a sweep against the Atlanta Braves.
Philadelphia is now two games back in the NL East with nine left to play. FanGraphs gives the Phillies a 24.7% chance to win the division. The odds can shift dramatically on Friday.
The Phillies will play game two of a four-game set with the Pirates on Friday. The Braves, meanwhile, will wrap up their late-season west coast trip against the Padres in San Diego.
The Padres and Braves will play a (sort of) doubleheader. The two teams will resume a seven-inning suspended game beginning at 8:10 p.m. eastern time. Since the game began during the Padres-Braves series in Atlanta, the Braves will be the home team at Petco Park. They’ll resume play in the bottom of the fifth with the Braves down 5-4 and Joc Pederson due up at the top of the order for Atlanta.
The Padres and Braves will play a nine-inning game at 10:10 p.m. eastern to wrap up the day. San Diego is on its last lifeline in the playoff race, so the Padres will fight hard to rack up a few victories over the weekend. They are 6.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card spot.
Our own Jonny Heller broke down what needs to happen for the Phillies to win or tie the Braves for the division lead. The Braves’ magic number (any combination of Braves wins and Phillies losses) to clinch the NL East is at nine. This is likely to be one of only two division races to come down to the final week of the season with the other being the NL West.
The Phillies could make up some serious ground on Friday. A Phillies win and two Braves losses means Philadelphia will head into Saturday just a half game out of first place. On the other hand, two Braves wins and a Phillies loss will move the Phillies to within 3.5 games.
Friday Playoff Scenarios
- 1 Phillies WIN and 2 Braves LOSSES – Phillies 0.5 game back
- 1 Phillies WIN and 1 Braves LOSS and 1 Braves WIN – Phillies 1.5 games back
- 1 Phillies WIN and 2 Braves WINS – Phillies 2.5 games back
- 1 Phillies LOSS and 2 Braves LOSSES – Phillies 1.5 games back
- 1 Phillies LOSS and 1 Braves LOSS and 1 Braves WIN – Phillies 2.5 games back
- 1 Phillies LOSS and 2 Braves WINS – Phillies 3.5 games back
Both the Padres and Braves are expected to use their bullpen to get through the suspended game. Max Fried will get the ball for the Braves in the nine-inning game on Friday. Huascar Ynoa will pitch for Atlanta on Saturday. The Padres are TBA for all three nine-innings games while the Braves do not have a starter named for Sunday. Joe Musgrove, the Padres best starter, is lined up to go Sunday against Atlanta. Former Phillie Vince Velasquez is unlikely to make an appearance in this series for San Diego since his last start came on Wednesday against San Francisco.
Kyle Gibson will oppose Sam Howard in Friday’s game against the Pirates. Ranger Suárez gets the ball on Saturday against Wil Crowe. A bullpen game is in store for the home finale. Max Kranick will start Sunday for Pittsburgh.
The Phillies have to leave Philadelphia on Sunday with a 2.5 game deficit at the very least in order to control their own destiny going into the head-to-head series in Atlanta. The Braves have their top starters lined up to go against the Phillies next week.
Probable Pitching Matchups vs. Atlanta
- Sept. 28 – Zack Wheeler vs. Ian Anderson
- Sept. 29 – Aaron Nola vs. Charlie Morton
- Sept. 30 – Kyle Gibson vs. Max Fried
The Phillies have a 6-4 record against Anderson, Morton and Fried this season. The Braves are 3-5 against Nola and Wheeler in 2021. Philadelphia is 2-4 at Truist Park in 2021 and 9-7 against Atlanta overall. The Phillies only need one win to clinch the season series against Atlanta, which is important to keep in mind if the two teams are tied for first place on Oct. 4.
The Braves currently have 10 games remaining on their schedule. Last Thursday, the finale of a three-game series between the Braves and Colorado Rockies at Truist Park was postponed without a makeup date announced. If the Phillies finish their regular season schedule either a 0.5 game ahead or 0.5 game behind the Braves, Atlanta will have to play that last game against Colorado on Oct. 4 to decide the final NL East standings.
If the two teams end up tied for the division lead after 162 games, the Braves and Phillies will likely play a game 163 on Oct. 5 in Philadelphia. There is an unlikely scenario in which the Phillies get swept in Atlanta, but somehow still end up tied with the Braves after 162 games. In that case, the Phillies will play the tiebreaker against the Braves in Atlanta.
All of this doesn’t matter if the Phillies don’t take care of what’s in front of them. Excluding the Washington Nationals, the Phillies have a 7-7 record against the current last-place teams they have faced this season. The Braves have an 11-6 record against those same teams.
Comeback wins like the one the Phillies pulled off on Thursday could boost momentum, but the Phillies have a 5-7 record after victories in which they have scored at least ten runs in.
Somehow, it’s not too late for the Phillies to turn it around. They’ll be a season-high six games over .500 for the second time this year with a win on Friday.
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