Phillies: J.A. Happ factor in former team’s postseason push

J.A. Happ #33 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
J.A. Happ #33 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Yankees LHP J.A. Happ can help his former team, the Phillies, in a big way on Friday

The Philadelphia Phillies (28-29, .491) have just three games remaining on their shortened 2020 season. For now, manager Joe Girardi‘s squad remains out of the postseason picture — entering Friday’s slate as the ninth seed behind the sixth-seed Miami Marlins (29-28, .509), seventh-seen Cincinnati Reds (29-28, .509), and eighth-seed San Francisco Giants (28-28, .500).

Although the Phillies trail the Marlins and Reds by just one game in the standings, they would lose out on the tiebreaker to either; meaning, the Phillies would have to win two more games than the Marlins or Reds to jump them in the standings. The Phillies trail the Gabe Kapler-led San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, by just a half game and would beat them out in a tiebreaker scenario.

The Marlins have a tough slate ahead of them opposite the New York Yankees, who still have something to play for. Therefore, if the Phillies take care of business against the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend — with either a hopeful series win or sweep — there is still a chance they could qualify for the postseason as the second-place National League East team.

Both the Marlins and Yankees will close out the season against each other with something to play for; the Aaron Boone-led squad, in particular, currently trail the Chicago White Sox by two games for the fourth seed and subsequent home-field advantage for the round of the playoffs, which begin on Tuesday.

Starting for the Yankees on Friday opposite the Phillies’ division rival Marlins will be no other than veteran southpaw J.A. Happ — whose career began in red pinstripes more than a decade ago. Happ, 37, is 2-2 this season with a 3.25 ERA and 1.060 WHIP spanning eight starts; over his last two outings, in particular, he is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA, allowing only one run in 13 innings while striking out 14 and walking none. The Marlins can only clinch a postseason berth on Friday with a win, coupled with a Phillies loss.

The Reds will close out their season with three road games against the American League’s second-best Minnesota Twins (35-22, .614). Coincidentally, the Phillies are tasked with facing the American League-best Rays (37-20, .649).

The Phillies’ best bet to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2011 appears to be jumping the Kapler-led Giants in the standings for the eighth National League postseason seed.

The Giants have four games left to play, all against the National League second-best San Diego Padres (34-22, .607). Two of those games will be played on Friday in a twin bill doubleheader. Since the Phillies trail the Giants by just a half game and hold the tiebreaker against them, they could actually become the eighth seed following Friday’s action even if they lose to the Rays — meaning, the Giants would have been swept by the potent Padres lineup, led by Most Valuable Player Award candidate Fernando Tatis Jr.

There are several scenarios still alive for the Phillies. They can only control what they can control, however, and that starts Friday evening against the Rays behind Vince Velasquez.

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