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The Phillies beat the odds to reach World Series. Can they continue to do it?

Futures bettors who believed in Philadelphia cash in — with possibly more to come

Philadelphia Phillies star and 2022 NLCS MVP Bryce Harper (center) celebrates with teammates after defeating the San Diego Padres on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies star and 2022 NLCS MVP Bryce Harper (center) celebrates with teammates after defeating the San Diego Padres on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)Read moreMichael Reaves / Getty Images

Usually in sports, blind faith leads to nothing but misery. Sometimes, though, it can lead to newfound riches.

Now cut to a bunch of never-say-die Philadelphia Phillies fans with ear-to-ear grins and pockets full of cash after their team’s 4-3 victory over the San Diego Padres in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

That dramatic series-clinching win at Citizens Bank Park also made winners out of bettors who backed Philadelphia in the 2022 National League pennant futures market — particularly those who made their investment before the postseason began.

As for those bettors who long ago backed the Phillies to win their first championship in 14 years? They’re staring at an even bigger cash windfall if Philadelphia can knock off the favored Astros in the World Series.

As both Fall Classic participants continue to shake off their pennant-winning hangovers ahead of Friday’s series opener, let’s look back at the Phillies’ improbable odds-defying journey.

Hope ‘springs’ eternal

Coming out of spring training, there was reason for optimism that Philadelphia finally would end the franchise’s 11-year playoff drought — the longest for any National League team.

For starters, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement included an extra round of playoffs, with one additional team added to each league (a development that ultimately would prove crucial for the Phillies and those who wagered on them in the MLB futures market). More importantly, though, Philadelphia had a stacked lineup — one led by reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper — to go with a solid 1-2 starting pitching punch of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

Oddsmakers, though, had their doubts. And those doubts mostly were tied to three factors: a lack of pitching depth (particularly in the bullpen), shaky defense and the quality of the Phillies’ competition in the National League (namely, the loaded Dodgers and defending-champion Braves).

So prior to the season, Philadelphia was 16-to-1 to win the National League at BetMGM and a 35-to-1 long shot to win the World Series.

Those odds would only balloon from there. Because the Phillies didn’t just stumble out of the gate, they fell flat on their faces.

» READ MORE: Phillies vs. Astros World Series subplots include Bryce Harper, rookie shortstops, and more

Time for a change

When the calendar flipped from May to June, Philadelphia was 21-29 and 12.5 games out of first place in the NL East. At that point, its NL pennant odds jumped to +1600 while its World Series odds remained at +3500.

Then after starting June with a 6-5 home victory over the San Francisco Giants in a makeup game from a previous postponement, the Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi. Veteran MLB coach Rob Thompson took over as the interim skipper and won his first game 10-0 over the Angels, part of an eventual a season-best nine-game winning streak.

The Phillies would ultimately go 15-2 in Thompson’s first 17 games to improve to 36-31 by mid-June. However, soon after, Philadelphia lost Harper to a broken thumb that would sideline him for exactly two months.

So when they headed into their final series before the All-Star break on a four-game losing skid, the Phillies’ chances of snapping their postseason drought looked slim. And the betting odds reflected that.

Falling to the back of the pack

According to data from SportsOddsHistory.com, the Phillies’ NL pennant odds plummeted to +2000 coming out of the All-Star break. Their World series odds? Double that at +4000.

Despite closing July on a five-game winning streak, those odds stretched to +2500 and +5000, respectively, on Aug. 1. And even though they climbed to 17 games over .500 following a six-game winning streak in late August, the Phillies entered September at +1400 to take the NL and +3000 to win it all.

Philadelphia then ended September with a thud, losing 10 of 14 games to see those odds stretch out again to +1800 and +4000 at BetMGM. But because the Milwaukee Brewers — the only other team in the running for the final NL Wild Card slot — were going through their own struggles, the Phillies maintained control of their playoff destiny.

Finally, on the 160th game of the 162-game season, Philadelphia punched its playoff ticket with a 3-0 victory in — of all places — Houston. Still, oddsmakers didn’t hang a “buy” sign on the Phillies, who were installed as underdogs in a best-of-3 Wild Card series against the Cardinals.

At that point, BetMGM customers could get the Phillies at +1100 to win the NL pennant and +3000 to win the World Series. When the Phillies swept St. Louis with a pair of road victories, those odds dipped to +500 and +1000, respectively.

Then came an upset of the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-5 division series, which Philadelphia needed just four games to win. Despite only being a slight underdog in the NLCS against the Padres — who themselves scored a pair of upsets in series wins over the Mets and Dodgers — the Phillies were still +375 at BetMGM to be the last team standing.

Now after disposing of San Diego, the squad that was a 50-to-1 long shot to win it all as recently as Aug. 1 is down to +150 at BetMGM to take down Houston.

Can the Phillies finish the job against an opponent that is in the Fall Classic for the fourth time in the last six years? Given that the Astros have yet to lose in the postseason, it doesn’t figure to be easy.

Then again, nothing has come easy for the 2022 Phillies. Yet they keep proving their doubters wrong — and as a result, they keep rewarding their supporters handsomely.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.