It’s going to be difficult enough for the Phillies to end their decade-long postseason drought this week, but a deluge of wind and rain could make it even tougher.
With Hurricane Ian forecast to hit the Tampa area beginning tomorrow, forecasters in the Washington, DC area are calling for Ian’s remnants to possibly make their presence felt just as the Phillies are in the nation’s capital for a four-game series beginning on Friday.
As of Tuesday morning, the Weather Channel is predicting beautiful weather for Friday’s opening game, with mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid 60s. However, things get dicey after that, with a 70% chance of rain beginning in the early morning hours of Saturday. Those odds increase throughout Saturday night and all day Sunday.
The Phils are scheduled to play at 7:05 on Friday night, a day-night doubleheader at 1:05 and 7:05pm Saturday and then the series finale on Sunday at 1:35.
It seems almost impossible that any baseball will be played on Sunday. Saturday’s forecast is more volatile, particularly during the daytime hours. On Ian’s current track, there appears to be a very small window in which to cram four games. Not only that, there is little wiggle room in the schedule to make up any games that are missed.
The Phils begin a three-game series in Houston on Monday, October 3 and finish on Wednesday, October 5. The entire MLB schedule has the day off on Thursday the 6th, with the wild card round of the playoffs beginning on Friday the 7th.
So how does all this work?
It seems obvious the doubleheader will need to be moved to Friday in order get at least two of the four games in. A morning start time on Saturday would be brutal on the heels of a doubleheader, but the weather may require them to begin at 10am on Saturday in order to squeeze in the third game of the series before the rain starts falling.
That would leave the fourth and final game not played. Should the Phillies travel to Houston and either clinch a playoff spot or be eliminated, that final game against Washington would be unnecessary, and the Phils would only play 161 this year. If that game is needed, it would likely have to be played on the off-day following the end of the regular season and preceding the wild card round, Thursday, October 6th. The Phils would then, hopefully, have to travel to St. Louis or Atlanta to being their wild card series, with their pitching staff in shambles.
This scenario would put them at a competitive disadvantage over the Brewers, who will play their final nine games in the comfort of their domed stadium in Milwaukee, far away from the winds and rain of Hurricane Ian.
One other possibility would be to move the entire Nationals series to Philadelphia, but the forecast for the weekend there is also affected by Ian. While the chance of rain is slightly less, around 50% Saturday night through Sunday, it is probably not enough to warrant changing the location to Citizens Bank Park. Major League Baseball could consider a neutral site, like Arlington Stadium in Texas. The Rangers will be on the road in Anaheim, and it would be closer to the Phils’ next series in Houston, yet far enough away from the southeast.
Lest you think the Phillies are the only ones impacted, Hurricane Ian could also be major trouble for the huge Mets vs. Braves series in Atlanta this weekend. With just one game separating the two clubs, this upcoming three-game series is a must-play, but Ian will make it difficult to get all three games in, even with an off-day for both clubs this Thursday, as Ian will be sweeping across the area at that time.
The schedule makers have their hands full with the NL East this weekend, and everyone is hoping Ian pushes east and moves off the coast enough to get all the DC games in. But it’s more likely the hurricane will make life difficult for the Mets, Braves and Phils during the final week of the season.