The Philadelphia Phillies are—hopefully—bound for a destination not visited since October 7, 2011. The MLB postseason looms for the Phillies who enter the final series of the regular season with a magic number of one.
It’s simple, a Phillies win or a Brewers loss means the return of “Red October” to the City of Brotherly Love.
If the Phillies want to earn their postseason berth on the field they will have to beat baseball’s best, the 104-win Houston Astros.
The task won’t be easy. The Phillies are set to face Lance McCullers, AL Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, and Framber Valdez. That’s a 2.38 ERA, a 1.80 ERA, and a 2.89 ERA, respectively. That’s the toughest three-game stretch for the Phillies this season.
And don’t expect the Astros to go easy just because they’re playing out the season and preparing for the ALDS.
Veteran manager Dusty Baker is playing out the season with a certain level of respect for the game. With multiple teams contending for one spot, the Astros are going to play to win. The situation is reminiscent of Charlie Manuel’s decision to play out the 2011 season against Atlanta.
While it seems like a challenge, the Phillies have played “up to” their competition all season long. But rest assured, it will be a still be challenge for the suddenly inconsistent Fightin’s. A challenge that is the perfect primer for the meat grinder of postseason play. A postseason preseason so to speak.
Despite all of the above, the Phillies will still be scoreboard watching.
The Milwaukee Brewers —2.0 GB— host the Arizona Diamondbacks in Milwaukee approximately 30-minutes before first pitch in Houston. Milwaukee is 1-3 this season against Arizona and has been scored 18-10. The scenario exists where the Phillies could clinch a postseason berth while playing.
If the Phillies get in they will likely be heading to Saint Louis to face the NL Central champion Cardinals. The newly christened Wild Card Series will begin on Friday, October 7 — 11-years to the day of the last postseason appearance.
Welcome to the madness of the push for the postseason. As Doc said, “it’s only going to get funner.”
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