"Two out of three ain't bad", our Erik Seybold wrote on our Facebook page Baseball Talk: Philadelphia right after the Phillies lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday afternoon. In normal circumstances, that may be true. But this is the 2012 Phillies.
To win two out of three all season long, the end result would be 108 wins. A team winning 108 has not happened since the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. If the Phillies win two out of three the rest of the way, will it be enough? The numbers suggest that it's not.
The Phillies sit at 41-52 through 93 games played. That means that only 69 games remain. a nice multiple of three. So if the Phillies were to win two out of three of those, they would need to finish the season 46-23, a very ambitious mark. Do the math, and that would give the Phillies a final record of 87-75. Is that enough?
Let's look at who would have won the second wild card in the last ten years and what record they held:
2011: Wild Card - St. Louis Cardinals (90-72); second Wild Card - Atlanta Braves (89-71)
2010: Wild Card - Atlanta Braves (91-69); second Wild Card - San Diego (90-72)
2009: Wild Card - Colorado Rockies (92-70); second Wild Card - San Francisco (88-74)
2008: Wild Card - Milwaukee Brewers (90-72); second Wild Card - New York Mets (89-73)
2007: Wild Card - Colorado Rockies (90-72); second Wild Card - San Diego Padres (89-73)
2006: Wild Card - Los Angeles Dodgers (88-74); second Wild Card - Phillies (85-77)
2005: Wild Card - Houston Astros (89-73); second Wild Card - Phillies (88-74)
2004: Wild Card - Houston Astros (92-70); second Wild Card - San Francisco Giants (88-47)
2003: Wild Card - Florida Marlins (91-71); second Wild Card - Houston Astros (87-75)
2002: Wild Card - San Francisco Giants (95-66); second Wild Card - Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70)
So, only ONE team - the 2006 Phillies - would have won a second wild card winning only 87 games. Now, in 2006 the landscape of baseball featured one very dominant team, the New York Mets winning 97 games, and two really bad teams who won 66 and 67 games respectively, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.
This year, there are many mid-range teams. No team is on pace to win 97 and teams will be bunched up. But, at the trade deadline many contenders will get better and will be more difficult to beat.
I can easily see this being a season where the second wild card has to win 90 games. So, to do that, the Phillies would have to go off on a long winning streak and THEN pull off many two-of-three runs to propell themselves into contention.
But in my opinion: the Phillies bullpen is still not good enough to win anything. It's a shame, because that will be why they go nowhere. Two out of three ain't bad, but not when you are already 14 games out and your bullpen is what it is.