The Philadelphia Phillies are in a position to make the playoffs and can play themselves into a first-round series against the Cubs.
With their 11 games remaining, the Philadelphia Phillies (24-25) are hanging onto the final NL Wild Card spot for dear life. They are only a half-game ahead of the Cardinals (22-24) but only 1 1/2 games behind the Miami Marlins (25-23) for the runner-up spot in the NL East.
Not too long ago, the Fightin’ Phils looked like a lock for the postseason, a few crushing losses and injuries have jeopardized their chances as the team has won just three of their last 11 games.
Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta has been placed on the 10-day IL with a right hamstring strain and will miss the remainder of the regular season, joining first baseman Rhys Hoskins.
The team will also be without catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura during this weekend’s series against the Toronto Blue Jays. (26-23)
The timing could not be worse for the Phillies, who will take on the Nationals (18-29) and Rays (33-18) to end the season with four other national league teams breathing down their necks.
Still, the Phillies are down, but not out, so let’s say they limp into the postseason. There is a bit of rearranging that would need to happen with both teams, but what exactly would the Cubs be up against in a first-round matchup against the Phillies?
The $330-million man Bryce Harper has not put up the dominant numbers he was paid for: .252 BA .907 OPS 10 HR 24 RBI. Still, the rest of the offense has done enough to keep the Phillies above water.
Phillies Offensive Ranks:
Batting Average: .256 (9th-MLB)
OPS: .772 (8th-MLB)
Runs: 257 (6th-MLB)
The pitching of the Phillies is interesting. As a group, they stink up the league with the fifth-worst ERA in MLB–5.24. Yet, they have two of the best starting pitchers in baseball in Aaron Nola (5-3, 2.92 ERA) and Zack Wheeler (4-0, 2.62 ERA). Their third starter in a three-game series will likely be Arrieta (4-4, 5.08 ERA) if he is healthy.
If they manage to hang onto their playoff spot, the combination of Nola and Wheeler could very well give teams some issues if they pitch as well as they have during this season.
Given all the adversity they are currently facing, if they found a way into the playoffs and advance past the first round, it would undoubtedly be labeled an upset. Given the magic around October baseball, this is the kind of thing teams around the league need to be wary of.
Throw out any regular season statistics and records come playoff time because they might give us an idea of what to expect, but anything can happen.
The good news for the Cubs is they have a group of veteran players who have been through this before. It is not something you can put in a box score, but the playoff experience is something that can go a long way, which is why the Cubs will be dangerous in October regardless of who they are playing.