The Phillies really did look to be a different team this year. They were statistically a top 5 team in baseball from June through August. Philadelphia had as much as a 4.5 game lead plus the tiebreaker as late as September 14th. But once again, they have entered another full collapse and are now tied with the Milwaukee Brewers. They have been playing sloppy, undisciplined, and frankly losing baseball over the last week. There’s still time to right the wrongs, but it’s running out quicker than the hope is fading.
Alvarado was a highlight of a dreadful week for the Phillies. He entered a 1-0 game against Atlanta and proceeded to collect a four out save while collecting two strikeouts. It was his first scoreless appearance of more than one inning on the season and only his second overall. Alvarado proved that he can be trusted to get big outs against a tough lineup in extremely high leverage situations. His last earned run was on August 23rd. In the 12 games since, he’s allowed two hits and three walks with 18 strikeouts.
Eflin could be a major weapon if the Phillies can bring their postseason hopes off of life support. He’s been utilized out of the bullpen since returning from injury and has looked dominant. In five games out of the bullpen, Eflin has allowed just one unearned run and two hits while striking out seven of the 20 batters he’s faced. He was the first one on in relief in the 1-0 win over Atlanta and went 1.2 perfect innings with 3 K’s.
Wheeler has made two starts since returning from the injured list. In total, he’s thrown ten innings, allowed one run on a home run, and struck out 8. His fastball is back in the upper 90s and even touching 99 MPH. He’s been efficient and kept his pitch count low, a key element considering he was on a reduced number in his first two games after injury. Wheeler looks to be back to his usual self and has come at a perfect time for the Phillies.
Despite being just 70-86 on the season, the Cubs finished the season series against the Phillies 6-0. Chicago outscored Philadelphia 32-10 in those six games. Their pitching staff, ranked 21st in baseball in ERA, utterly dominated the Phillies in their most recent sweep.
They’re suddenly very much alive in the postseason race, and quite possibly could be in the driver’s seat by this weekend.
The Phillies Playoff Chances
Philadelphia started a week in which they needed to win a minimum of 5 of 7 games to keep the Brewers at arm’s length with an ugly series sweep in Chicago. Their pitchers gave up the big hit and their offense couldn’t buy one. The Phillies have lost all breathing room they had, and it looks like they know it. The team looks incredibly tight and is playing like the walls are closing in, which they are. They’re playing not to lose instead of playing to win and it has put them exactly in the position they feared the most.
This team was built to win on offense. And that’s what’s happened for the majority of the season, as they are in the top ten in nearly every major offensive category. However, their bats completely abandoned them at their most critical hour. Philadelphia scored 3 runs in three games against a poor Cubs pitching staff and went a dreadful 2-22 with runners in scoring position. They had just two extra base hits in the entire series in Chicago. Two of their three runs were driven in by an out. Hitters swung early and often in counts, resulting in quick outs and weak contact. There was no plan at the plate while the Cubs pitching continued to mow them down. Some of their best hitters are pressing and logging extremely poor at bats in crucial situations.
Realmuto has cooled off tremendously since he went 5-5 in a loss to Toronto. In 7 games since, Realmuto is hitting .143 with zero extra base hits and four strikeouts. He’s been particularly brutal with runners on base over this span, going 1-16 with four strikeouts. He isn’t the only big-name hitter struggling right now, but he has been in the most pronounced slump.
Segura is the league-leader in games played without a postseason appearance at 1,322. He is playing like someone who is feeling the full weight of that number right now. Segura has had some of his worst at bats of the season in the last week. He’s swinging at pitches well out of the zone and opening up early and flailing wildly. He’s hitting .208 over the last seven games with four strikeouts and numerous ugly swings.
Stott started September off strong, but he too has crashed and burned of late. He’s 1 for his last 27 plate appearances with 10 strikeouts. Stott looks more like the version that struggled early in the year to produce solid contact before being demoted to Triple A. He’s often been a source of a spark for the Phillies when they’ve needed one despite his poor season numbers. That spark simply hasn’t come lately and the team is suffering from it.