Let's recap some of the 2012 season so far:
- Hector Luna, cleanup hitter
- Jim Thome attempting to play the field at 42 years old
- Brian Sanches, 8th inning setup man
- Michael Schwimer, interiter of bases loaded in tie games
- Joe Savery, extra-innings last resort
- Ty Wigginton, everyday first baseman
- Pete Orr, 23 games at second base
- Freddy Galvis, broken bat, PED user
- Cliff Lee: winless in April, May, June
- Cole Hamels contract drama
- Kyle Kendrick: atrocious pitcher
- Kyle Kendrick: amazing pitcher
- Ryan Howard, one-foot July debut
- Chooch: All -Star
- Chooch: Wearing a boot
- Jason Pridie, three-hit wonder
- Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence : former Phils
After all that, the Phillies are playing like a decent team. They stand at 61-67, 16.5 games out of first place in the N.L. East. Today, Neil Hartman of CSN Philly wrote that he thinks the Phillies have a chance at a Wild Card spot.
The Phillies have a long, uphill battle, but here is why I believe they can do it.
Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are all pitching well at the same time for the first time all season. If that trio can maintain their dominance over the final five and a half weeks of the season, the Phillies have a shot.
Here is his reasoning:Who knows what team might collapse in September -- it has happened plenty of times.
This does not make for a strong argument. 9.5 games out with 34 to go is quite a large amount of ground to make up in a short time. So let's look at it at the perspective of number of wins needed for a wild card. 89 may be the number needed to reach that one-game playoff.
To reach that, the Phillies would need to go 28-6, an .824 winning percentage.
The Phillies play 13 games against really bad teams, the Mets, Astros, and Rockies. Is it logical to think they could sweep them all?
The Phillies have six games against the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are behind the Phillies in the standings, but always scary since they have many pieces that can win games against a team that seldom blows out the other team. Scrappy runs from Jose Reyes and pitching performances from Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson can be trouble.
The Phillies have six games against the Nationals. Could the Phillies sweep them again in these two series? It would be really tough.
The Phillies have six games left against the Atlanta Braves, in place for a Wild Card berth.
Finally, the Phillies have three more games left against the Cincinnati Reds, whom they just split a series with in Philadelphia. The Reds are a scary team.
So, that makes it:
- 13 games against poor teams
- 9 games against the teams with the two best records in the N.L.
- 6 games against mediocre teams
- 6 games against the team with the third-best
The Phillies still have against them:
- An unreliable (though taking shape) bullpen
- An injured Carlos Ruiz
- Chase Utley and Ryan Howard still fighting back from injury
- Kevin Frandsen playing over his head right now which will not likely continue
- Ditto Erik Kratz
- Uncertainty from Domonic Brown
- Juan Pierre who is 1 for his last 17
- Vance Worley battling bone chips in his arm
Ultimately, I think the Phillies will end up just short of the playoffs, but end up with a winning record, thanks to the games against the lower-eschelon team coming up. However, I do believe the Phillies will be fun to watch the rest of the way.
So, enjoy them, root like crazy, and we'll feel great about our team heading into the offseason.