Has the worst already passed for the Philadelphia Phillies?
Or is all of this just the calm before the incredibly unpleasant storm, a torrential downpour of more unforced errors and losses to the NL’s dregs?
Well, it depends. You feel like being an optimist?
Because the road ahead is anything but bleak, and though the Phillies trail the NL East by five games at the moment, we have mountains of evidence from 2021 alone that the tide can flip in an instant. Based on the schedule, the Phils have an opportunity here to quickly climb, as long as the Braves’ flame gets extinguished.
Easier said than done, but … there’s something here to dream on.
Can the Phillies make the playoffs with the easiest schedule in baseball?
Notably, after looking at that “strength of schedule” list…are the Reds really about to do this, too? They’re playing some of the best baseball of any contender, and the San Diego Padres‘ collection of arms continues to wilt spectacularly. Forget having a “shot”; Cincinnati may be the Wild Card favorite right now.
And even their meager opponents’ win percentage outpaces the Phillies’ by nearly 30 points.
Among the motley crew the Phils will be facing down the stretch, their schedule is highlighted by a mid-September homestand with the Rockies (decrepit on the road) and Cubs, complete with an off day in between (how kind of Major League Baseball!). They’ll then travel to New York for three with the Mets — which could mean everything — before returning home swiftly to play the Orioles and Pirates seven times.
If Philadelphia can reach that dream stretch with their hopes intact, they could rip off the type of run that’s placed the Yankees firmly in contention over the past few weeks. It’s hardly out of the question. That’s a pillow to land on right when the team needs it most.
Of course … the pessimist within you will counter by saying this thing could already be out of reach when September arrives. Beginning Tuesday night, the Phillies have two games with Tampa Bay, followed by four home games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Those could either put Philly back on the right track, or continue their misery, considering how putrid this team has been against the reeling Snakes — in fact, we saw it just last week. You may recall.
The schedule makers have given the Phillies a pile of Labor Day presents. A true playoff contender would take full advantage. Let’s see this group buckle down, shall we?