As the famous song once said, “Looks like we made it...”
After weeks of inconsistent play that had many people scratching their heads, followed by some really good baseball, the Phillies have entered the last week of the season. The tests that were in front of the team have been passed and now we know that the Phillies are likely going to be in the playoffs. You don’t want to say that’s been a foregone conclusion for a while, but c’mon - even the Phillies aren’t going to blow this opportunity.
With the team entering the final week of regular season play, now there are only a few boxes left to check before the next season begins. What are they?
When will they clinch the first wild card spot?
There has been much desire to make sure that the wild card round is played in Philadelphia. Last season, the team was happy to be in the playoffs at all, let alone have to go on the road. This year, with playoffs experience under the belts of many of the players, now they want to take advantage of the atmosphere Philadelphia provides in any big game setting.
So when can they clinch?
As soon as today!
With the Yankees win over the D-Backs, the Phillies can clinch a playoff berth tomorrow with a ….— Destiny Lugardo (@destiny_lugardo) September 25, 2023
— Win over Pirates OR
— MIA loss OR
— CHC loss OR
— ARI loss
Hey that’s fun! Remember last year when the fanbase had to sweat out each and every game in the final week of the season, not to mention pray that the Marlins beat the Brewers, just to get into the playoffs?
This year, not so much. Now, what about that top wild card seed? Well, they can still clinch it tomorrow, but they’ll need more help.
The magic number to clinch the top Wild Card is not 1. It’s technically 2. The Phillies still need the Brewers to wrap up the Central.— Destiny Lugardo (@destiny_lugardo) September 25, 2023
Phils can clinch home field advantage in the WC round Tuesday with win AND Brewers win OR Cubs loss.
Explained here: https://t.co/59E6DzDK2M
Major kudos to Destiny, who has been all over this the past week or so. She’s awesome.
We’re all well aware of the atmosphere that is created here in a playoff situation. Imagine some of the younger starters on some of the teams chasing the Phillies and how they’d react in the bullpen pregame, on the mound after throwing a few pitches out of the zone. Boy it sure would be nice to get that top spot...
How will they set up the playoff rotation?
Saturday afternoon looked quite sketchy in the Philadelphia area. There was doubt when we all woke up that morning that the game would be able to be played thanks to the storm that was swirling over the region, but the Phillies really, really wanted that game to be played.
This game is a shitshow and it's only the second inning. Conditions are rough.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) September 23, 2023
They were fortunate to get the game in (and get a win), but what was the reason behind the Phillies trying as hard as they could to make sure it got played.
One reason why it’s important to #Phillies to squeeze in a game today: They plan to flip Zack Wheeler’s and Taijuan Walker’s spots in final turn through the rotation. After today, Wheeler would pitch Thursday, lining him up for Game 1 of wild-card series on normal rest on 10/3.— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) September 23, 2023
It’s been common knowledge that the first pitcher to toe the rubber for the Phillies in the playoffs would be Zack Wheeler. Were you one to follow and map out the rotation based on current plans, you would have noticed that with the way they were pitching, Wheeler wasn’t going to start game one of any wild card round on regular rest, something he has been vocal in wanting to be on even when they were using a six-man rotation. Since the game was played, now they can go ahead with their plan, something we should all be thankful for.
What about the rest of the group?
With yesterday’s game being started by Cristopher Sanchez, the rest of the week might look something like this:
Tuesday vs. PIT: Aaron Nola
Wednesday vs. PIT: Ranger Suarez
Thursday vs. PIT: Wheeler
Friday @ NYM: Taijuan Walker
Saturday @ NYM: Sanchez
Sunday @ NYM: Nola
That’s if they decided to keep everyone on turn. What that could mean is that once the playoffs start in earnest on Tuesday, October 3. Should Nola pitch that final Sunday, he wouldn’t be available to pitch until the following Friday, which would be the day before the NLDS starts. At that point, Wheeler would be able to go again on regular rest, something the Phillies would obviously prefer.
These are a lot of hypotheticals to juggle, which makes the clinching of the first wild card spot as soon as possible all the more important. Not only for the rest it would provide to all parts of the roster, but for the ability it would give Rob Thomson to get his rotation in order however he desires.
Statistical road markers
Once the team goals have been secured, there is no shame in turning your attention to what you can do personally. There’s no division to play for, the team is in the playoffs and the first spot will likely be picked up this week some time. That means some players are going to be trying to make some history for themselves. What exactly are we looking at?
- Trea Turner and his steals
Trea Turner is now 29-0 stealing this year.— schmenkman (@tgpschmenk) September 24, 2023
He has stolen 34 straight going back to '22.
Only others to steal 34+ straight in the last 25 years:
C.Crisp (2011-12): 36
J.ROLLINS (2007-08): 39
Ichiro (2006-07): 45
J.ROLLINS (2001): 35
E.Young Sr (2000-01): 34
- Alec Bohm and his home runs
Bryce Harper hit his 20th home run tonight, becoming the 5th Phil with 20 or more this year.— schmenkman (@tgpschmenk) September 23, 2023
It’s only the third time they’ve had 5 with 20+ HRs:
Alec Bohm has also hit his 19th tonight, so they’re closing in on 6 with 20+ for the first time.
These are just a few of the milestones that we should be looking forward to this final week of the regular season. It’s going to be a good one.