Can the Phillies Really Make the Playoffs?
We already covered this today, but, for the love of double dipping:
The Phillies could make the playoffs. Still. Really.
First, there's the "2011 St. Louis Cardinals Precedent," like you've never seen it before.
Then there's the schedule.
In the thick of September, the Phillies have 13 straight games against the Rockies, Mets, Astros and Marlins, four teams with a combined .399 win percentage. They've also got six more with Atlanta, the holders of a wild card spot, and (counting tonight) nine against the NL East-leading Nationals, who may
lose rob themselves of Steven Strasburg and lose a ton of games to the Braves, both of whom, if they keep knocking the hell out of one another, will bring the once-lofty division back down to earth.
OK, so we've got allegory and circumstance, all we're missing is, what do you call it... Oh, that's right. A championship team!!!
That's where this gets interesting.
All the talk throughout the past two months in which, despite plenty of opportunities to shave leads with division and wild card leaders and ample time for, really, anything to happen, is that the team just isn't good enough. Not championship-caliber. Not by a long shot.
And they weren't.
But are these guys them?
Think about it: Just two opening day starters -- Rollins and Mayberry -- started tonight, and only four -- including Howard and Utley -- started the first game of the second half. And both the typical everyday guys nursing injuries (Carlos Ruiz, Placido Polanco) have adequate replacements. Totally different team, this is. Better, even.
Most and best of all, the bullpen is different. Of the guys who tossed five scoreless last night, against the sport's best offense, two (Philippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst) are new additions. A little creativity (Kyle Kendrick didn't allow a run out of the bullpen this season, and Vance Worley had a 1.86 ERA in seven regular season games as a reliever a year ago) and gamesmanship from Tyler Cloyd (who probably won't start, but should) to round out the rotation, and you could be talking a complete and total overhaul.
No, they won't be the Reds. (Philly has the fourth-worst bullpen ERA and fourth-most losses in baseball in 2012.) But maybe, just maybe, they can be serviceable, functional. Not great, but adequate.
Considering that they've played good enough baseball to be 10.5 games (about the same hole as St. Louis) out despite an absolute mushroom cloud hovering overhead at times, yeah, this seems worth a look.
Sprinkle in some pixie dust -- you know, that October magic that makes anything possible -- and bank on Erik Kratz and Kevin Frandsen continuing to playout of their minds, maybe inspiring and captivating and reigniting everybody else, and who knows?
Granted, they don't play the Cardinals, who hold that other coveted wild card spot. And they don't face any of the three teams -- Arizona, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles (who, oh by the way, may acquire half of Boston's payroll and a combined 11 All-Star seasons, in a move that's a lock to be define their new ownership's reign, one way or the other) -- between them and October.
Coolstandings lists their playoff odds at less than 0.1 percent. The Cardinals and Rays had three and two percent odds hereabouts.
And I totally just hexed any possibility by mentioning (and giving way too much thought to) this.
But this could happen.
Crazier things have, right?