It has been a decade since the Philadelphia Phillies last competed in the postseason. Now, nearly ten years after losing the National League Division Series in 2011, a playoff spot has finally come within reach. The hopes of capitalizing on this opportunity, however, seem less likely after Philadelphia was defeated in a shutout fashion, 2-0, by the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies currently rank second in the NL East Division, with a record of 77-74, behind the Atlanta Braves, who post a record of 79-70. The Orioles rank last in the American League East with a record of 48-103, making their win over Philadelphia an upset that could stand in the way of playoff qualification.
The Phillies’ best hope for clinching a playoff spot is by finishing first in the NL East. Despite being successful in their division, the Phillies are several wins behind many other teams in the National League, making a wild card spot in the postseason much less likely. The critical loss to the Orioles will be a major setback for the Phillies, as their new goal will be to limit their losses in order to catch up to the Braves, who are currently two wins ahead. The Phillies have clinched series wins over the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets prior to the series with the Orioles. The rest of the season for the Phillies will involve a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a three-game series with the Braves, and a three-game series with the Miami Marlins. It is critical that Philadelphia win nearly all of these games, especially all three matchups with the Braves in Atlanta on September 28 through 30. After Monday night’s loss, the Phillies responded with a 3-2 win in ten innings over the Orioles on Tuesday, with four players including outfielders Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, catcher J.T. Realmuto, and third baseman Freddy Galvis, each contributing two hits in the offensive effort.
Despite a seventeen-run performance against the Chicago Cubs on September 17, the Phillies’ offense has been limited as of late. While they have been able to secure wins with margins of one-to-two runs over their opponents, having an offensive surge throughout their last four series will help secure the Phillies’ playoff hopes. The Phillies’ pitching, however, has been thriving late into the regular season. Despite the 2-0 loss to the Orioles, the pitching staff, including a 6.2 inning performance by John Means, did not give up an earned run. The success of the pitchers must enable both Philadelphia’s offense and defense to step up in order to secure the next several critical game wins.
Also in the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers have all clinched at least a wildcard spot in the playoffs, making it critical that the Phillies secure their division to clinch a spot. The New York Mets still rank four games behind the Phillies in the NL East. In the American League, no team has yet to secure a wildcard entry.
Since it has been so long since Philadelphia’s last postseason berth, and even longer since the team’s two consecutive NL Championship Series wins in 2008 and 2009 and their World Series title in 2008, it would be thrilling for the team to enter the postseason again. Though a World Series or a league championship bid may be still out of reach, a postseason entry this year would be an opportunity for Philadelphia baseball to succeed.