PLAYOFF RACE

Phillies occupy an intriguing place in NL playoff race

PLAYOFF RACE

Who would have believed that a seven-game, mid-September series in Miami would be the key to the Phillies’ playoff hopes? That’s 2020 for you.

In this season’s expanded playoff format, the top two teams in each division are guaranteed playoff spots, while the teams with the next two best records will earn Wild Card spots. 

The eight playoff teams will square off in best-of-three first round series, in a 1-vs-8, 2-vs-7, 3-vs-6, 4-vs-5 format. The three division winners will be the top three seeds (in order of record), followed by the three second-place teams and then the two wild cards. 

As we enter this crucial series against the Marlins, here’s where the Phillies stand among the teams jockeying for the eight playoff spots in the National League.   

Division leaders

Dodgers (32-12, 4.5 games up in NL West) 

Projected Playoff Odds: 99.9%

16 games remaining

The Dodgers are going to the playoffs, though the upstart Padres could give them a run for their money in the NL West. It will be interesting to see how hard the Dodgers push for the division title and top overall seed.

Braves (25-18, 2 games up in NL East) 

17 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 98.9%

The Braves will have to piece their starting rotation together for a bit while ace Max Fried is on the Injured List. Atlanta is done playing the Phillies but does have a four-game home series with the Marlins (Sept. 21-24). Atlanta also plays 7 of its final 17 games against last-place teams (4 at WSH, 3 vs BOS).

 

Cubs (25-19, 2.5 games up in NL Central) 

Projected Playoff Odds: 97.9%

16 games remaining

Even with Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo all struggling this season, the Cubs find themselves leading the NL Central thanks in large part to the pitching of Yu Darvish, who is third in the NL with a 1.77 ERA and has won 7 of his 9 starts. They do not play the Cardinals again, who trail them by 2.5 games in the division.

Second-place teams

Padres (28-17, 4.5 games behind Dodgers, 4.5 ahead of Giants in NL West) 

15 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 99.9%

The second-best team in the NL right now, the Padres could be stuck with the NL’s fourth seed if they can’t catch the Dodgers in the NL West. They’ll control their own destiny to a large degree, with three games remaining against the Dodgers and seven against the Giants, their closest competitor for the second guaranteed playoff spot in the division. Barring a catastrophic final three weeks for San Diego, we’ll get our first look at Fernando Tatis, Jr. in the playoff spotlight.

Phillies (21-18, 2 games behind Braves, 1.5 games ahead of Marlins in NL East) 

21 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 89.7%

The Phillies have a chance to solidify their playoff hopes and do major damage to the Marlins in this week’s seven-game series, which accounts for one-third of their remaining schedule. Of course, a bad series could have them trailing Miami by Sunday night. The Phillies end their season with three road games against the Rays, who are currently the top overall seed in the American League. 

Cardinals (18-17, 2.5 games behind Cubs, 2 games ahead of Brewers in NL Central)

23 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 78.5%

If you thought the Phillies’ remaining schedule was nuts, take a look at the Cardinals’ slate. Thanks to a slew of COVID-19 postponements, St. Louis is scheduled to play 23 games in the final 18 days of the season, with no off days. Ten of those 23 games are against the Brewers, which will go a long way toward determining the NL Central playoff spots. Due to their long string of postponements earlier this season, the Cardinals are only scheduled to play 58 games.

Wild Card contenders

Giants (23-21, 4.5 games behind Padres for 2nd in NL West) 

16 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 66.6%

One of the surprise teams in baseball this season, the Giants will likely have to claim one of the two Wild Card spots with the Dodgers and Padres well ahead of them. The schedule isn’t easy, with 10 of their final 16 games against the Padres and A’s.

Brewers (19-22, 2 games behind Cardinals for 2nd in NL Central) 

19 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 43.3%

With 13 of their final 19 games against the Cubs and Cardinals, the Brewers will have every opportunity to claim one of the two NL Central spots, even if they finish with a worse record than two of the Wild Card teams. 

 

Marlins (19-19, 3.5 games behind Braves, 1.5 games behind Phillies in NL East) 

22 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 38.4%

On paper, Miami has an easier remaining schedule than the Phillies, with eight games left against the Red Sox and Nationals. It would do the Phillies a lot of good to put some distance between themselves and the Marlins this weekend. 

Mets (20-24, 3.5 games behind Phillies for 2nd in NL East)

16 games remaining

Projected Playoff Odds: 36.2%

The Mets’ next 12 games are all against teams who would currently make the playoffs (Blue Jays, Phillies, Braves and Rays). They do finish with four against the last-place Nationals if they still have a shot to make the playoffs entering the final weekend.