The Philadelphia Phillies, despite not being able to fully break away from .500, are still very much in the playoff race and have two realistic avenues to get into October.
The first one would be winning the division, and that’s still a possibility given that, at 76-74, they are just three games behind the 78-70 Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta hasn’t been playing very well recently, and Philadelphia could overtake them relatively soon.
The other avenue towards a spot in the postseason would be the second Wild Card spot.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are firmly entrenched in the first position of the Wild Card, but the Phillies are 4.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second one.
With only two weeks left of the regular season, it seems unlikely that Philadelphia catches St. Louis.
The Phillies Likely Need To Take The Division To Advance
However, winning the division is a real possibility because the Phillies will play three games against the Braves from September 28-30 and the rest of their schedule is very easy on paper.
Of course, games are there to be played, and there will always be obstacles on the road: just ask the New York Yankees who went just 11-8 against the Baltimore Orioles and are only half a game out of a playoffs spot.
But the Phillies, led by NL MVP favorite Bryce Harper, will have the luxury of defining their season with two games against the Orioles (September 21 and 22), four against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates (September 23-26) and three against the fourth-place Miami Marlins, from October 1-3.
In the middle of all that will be the win-or-die series against the Braves, from September 28-30.
Here are the Braves and the Phillies remaining schedules..
Hard to believe, but, with 162 game schedule, it’s gonna come down to the 3 game series head to head..
Baseball, bruh pic.twitter.com/3pv8oHtIGp
— Sportsbook Consigliere (@SportsbkConsig) September 21, 2021
The games against the O’s and the Bucs will be at home, while the contests against the Braves and Marlins will be on the road.
It wasn’t done on purpose, of course, but MLB really gifted the Phillies with a golden opportunity to finish strong and perhaps make a charge at the division.
The best thing for them is that they will be able to control their own destiny.
If they win at least four or five of the games versus the Orioles and Pirates, and take the series in Atlanta and Miami, they will be well-positioned to make it into October.
A ‘Cupcake’ Schedule
The O’s are by far the worst team in baseball, with a 48-102 record as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Pirates are 56-94, and the Marlins are 64-86.
There you have it, Philly fans; there is a golden opportunity to make the playoffs after all.
The most important series of all, however, will be the one against the Braves.
In that three-game set, both teams will likely be playing for their spot in the postseason, since it’s highly unlikely that any team catches the Cardinals at this point.
Philadelphia could win most of their remaining games, but if they are swept in Atlanta, their hopes would likely be over.
As long as Harper (.311/.427/.620, 33 home runs, 93 runs, 90 RBI, 13 stolen bases) remains healthy and mashing, like he has been doing all season long, the Phillies will have a good shot of succeeding.
Bryce Harper is the NL MVP. He’s been on an absolute tear in the 2nd half, while carrying the Phillies to within 1 game in the NL East. Last 30 Games: .370/.473/.815, 1.288 OPS, 12 HR, 30 RBI, 24 Runs, 22 Walks.
— Rob (@robert09160618) September 19, 2021
The following days will be very exciting for MLB fans.NEXT: Ranking Aaron Nola’s 3 Best MLB Seasons So Far