A Crushing Week of Phillies Baseball Pushes the Team to the Brink of Playoff Elimination
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about how the NL East playoff race was turning into “must watch baseball” and that the Phillies were poised to make the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.
In hindsight, it was optimistic to think that the Phillies were ready to make a playoff run. Over the last two seasons in September, the Phillies went a combined 20-36 and fell out of postseason contention both times.
This year turned out to be no different. After fulfilling Bryce Harper’s “prophecy” and winning 10 of 11 games in late August, the Phillies have lost four consecutive games and 14 of their last 22.
Although on paper there’s still a chance to sneak into the playoffs, The Hunt for Red October turned into a horror movie this week. After starting the week with an 87% chance to make the playoffs and being in complete control of their own destiny, the Phillies enter today with just a 36.6% chance to continue the season into October.
In back to back games with their best starting pitchers on the mound, the Phillies offense disappeared and were unable to provide any type of run support for Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Injuries to Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto, and Bryce Harper reared their ugly heads and brought the Phillies offense to a screeching halt.
The Phillies have dealt with bullpen issues since Opening Day. On September 22nd, it was no different.
Brandon Workman took the mound in game two of the Phillies’ double-header last night. The Phillies clawed their way back to take the lead 7-6 in extra innings. Workman, like clockwork, allowed a 2-run walk-off home run and the Phillies lost yet again to the Nationals.
The Phillies’ bullpen has a 7.11 ERA, which is on pace for the second-highest ERA of any bullpen in history. They acquired three late-inning relievers before the trade deadline. All three pitchers did more harm than good for the Phillies.
Workman is 1-4 with a 6.92 ERA in 14 appearances. Heath Hembree had a 12.54 ERA in 11 appearances before landing on the 10-day IL with an injured right elbow. David Phelps is 0-1 with a 12.91 ERA in 10 appearances.
With now 4 games remaining in the regular season, The Phillies are 1.5 games behind the Marlins and a game back from the final NL Wild Card seed. Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Zack Wheeler, and Aaron Nola will take the mound during the final 4 games and look to propel the struggling ball club into the playoffs.
The Phillies went from a team that controlled their own destiny, to a team that will likely have to win out and sweep the Tampa Bay Rays, who hold the best record in the American League, just to make the playoffs.
Zach Eflin will face Nationals’ pitcher Eric Fedde. Like most of the Nationals’ pitchers this year, the Phillies have had success against them in previous games. Fedde has pitched twice against the Phillies, totaling 11 innings pitched. He’s allowed 11 hits, 10 runs, 3 home runs, and has only struck out 5 batters in those appearances.
Eflin is coming off his most impressive start of the season in which he threw a complete game shut out, striking out 9 batters and only allowing 4 hits. Needless to say, this is a must win game for the Phillies.
Ring that bell, baby.