The Phillies limp into the final lap of playoff race | Extra Innings
The playoff race is jam-packed, and there’s going to be a lot of scoreboard watching during the last week of the season. Here’s a quick look at the teams the Phillies have to worry about.
The Phillies, just like the Eagles did across the street, lost Sunday in lackluster fashion, closing Citizens Bank Park for 2020. But more importantly, Bryce Harper removed himself from the loss with a sore back. The Phillies traveled Sunday night to Washington, where they’ll play four games in three days as the playoff race enters the final lap.
Harper’s status for Monday is uncertain, J.T. Realmuto is unlikely to play, and Rhys Hoskins remains on the injured list. The Phillies are limping into the final week of the season.
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A scoreboard watcher’s guide to the final week
The Phillies have three shots this week to make the postseason, and they could finish second in the National League East or as one of the National League’s two wild-card teams and advance to October. The playoff race is jam-packed, and there’s going to be a lot of scoreboard watching to keep up during the final week of the season.
Here’s a quick look at the teams the Phillies have to worry about.
Marlins (28-25): The Marlins have the toughest schedule left of any of these six teams. They’ll finish the season on a seven-game road trip, with four games at the Braves and three at the Yankees. It looks like 31 wins is the magic number for a playoff spot, so the Marlins could win three of their final seven and have a good chance to at least secure the second wild-card spot.
Phillies (27-26): The Phillies' schedule isn’t much easier, but they do have a day off. They’ll play four games in three days against the Nationals, relax on Thursday, and then finish the season with a three-game series in Tampa Bay. The biggest games for the Phillies are their next two, as Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola will start the first two games in Washington. If the Phillies lose those starts, which they did last week, it will be an uphill climb to October.
Cardinals (26-24): The Cardinals have won four straight and moved out of a wild-card spot and into second place in the National League Central. They’ll start the week with three games in Kansas City, and the Phillies should be rooting for the Cardinals. If they clean up against the last-place Royals, the Cardinals might pick up even more ground in the Central, which would give the Phillies one less wild-card team with a better record than they have to compete with.
Reds (27-27) and Brewers (26-26): The Reds and Brewers will begin a three-game series Monday in Milwaukee, meaning that one team could almost eliminate the other from the postseason. If you’re the Phillies, you’re rooting for that to happen. The Phillies need this race to start thinning out. The Reds will finish the season in Minnesota, while the Brewers play five games in four days against the Cardinals to finish the season. That will be a playoffs-defining series.
Giants (26-26): Gabe Kapler’s Giants clawed back to .500 with a win Sunday in Oakland. They’ll finish the season with eight home games in seven days: four against the Rockies and four against the Padres. The Rockies have seemed to fall out of the race, and the Padres have already clinched a playoff berth. If the Giants have a run left in them, the schedule could be favorable. Don’t count Kapler out of October just yet.
The Phillies head out on the road with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Bob Brookover writes. The Phillies had a winning record at home this season as they seemed to benefit from the airhorns outside Citizens Bank Park. If they’re going to reach October, they’ll have to do it away from home.
Bryce Harper left Sunday’s game with back stiffness, and now the Phillies cross their fingers that Harper can return for Monday’s series opener in Washington. Joe Girardi said it is something that Harper has dealt it occasionally this season, Scott Lauber writes.
Today: Zack Wheeler starts the series opener in D.C., 6:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Aaron Nola starts Game 1 of a doubleheader, 3:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Zach Eflin pitches the series finale, 6:05 p.m.
Thursday: Phillies are off.
Friday: Phillies open final series of regular season in Tampa Bay, 6:40 p.m.
Stat of the day
The Phillies wake up Monday with a half-game lead for a wild card and a 73.7% chance to make the playoffs, according to FanGraphs. The Phillies are projected to win 30.5 games, which means they have to win four of their final seven to finish 31-29. That might be enough to get them in.
Nine teams have odds better than 50%, but just eight will advance to the postseason. The Giants, who trail the Phillies by a game, have a 42.7% chance. It’s going to be a tight wild-card race.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: How many players will be on the playoff roster? — Bob S. via email
Answer: Thanks, Bob. All teams will have 28 players on their roster, which is what they finished the regular season with. If a team wins the first round and advances to the bubble, it will be allowed to bring 40 players, 28 of whom will be active. The Phillies announced their roster for the bubble before the Sunday deadline.