The Phillies are left with only two paths into the playoffs, and one is considerably harder than the other.
The simplest way for the 28-30 Phillies to get in is to pass the 29-29 Giants. With the divisional record tiebreaker over the Giants in hand, all the Phils need to do is tie with them.
It means the Phillies need to go 2-0 in Tampa while the Giants go 1-1 against the Padres Saturday and Sunday, or the Phillies need to split while the Giants lose both.
If that happens, the Phillies would claim the 8-seed and visit the Dodgers for the first-round best-of-three playoff series.
The Phillies would be eliminated tonight if they lose and the Giants win.
The Giants’ opponent, the Padres, have nothing to play for in these final two games. They are locked into the 4-seed. They’ve also watched two key pitchers, Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet, suffer injuries in recent days that could convince them to rest their studs.
The other, more complicated path to the postseason for the Phillies is passing the Cardinals. That route could also close tonight. The only way the Phillies can leapfrog the Cardinals is if they go 2-0 and the Cards go 0-2 against the Brewers then also lose both games of a doubleheader Monday against the lowly Tigers. That doubleheader will be made up only if it’s necessary to determine the NL playoff field.
If that were to happen, the Phillies would finish 30-30 and the Cardinals 29-31. The Phillies would need the Cardinals to lose both games of that doubleheader because St. Louis would still possess a tiebreaker over the Phillies. In that scenario, both teams would have divisional records of 21-19 but the Cards have been better in their last 20 divisional contests, which is the next tiebreaker.
The Phillies have their best two starting pitchers going Saturday and Sunday in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, but their destiny is no longer under their control.