The Phillies are hot again -- winners of three straight -- as they march on towards the postseason.
But before October baseball can begin the Phightins have one last September game against the Braves. And despite the fact that the Phillies seemingly could beat the Braves in their sleep, the Phils should intentionally lose this game.
The spiraling Braves are deadlocked with the Cardinals for the wild card and will face a one-game winner-take-all scenario Thursday should they and the Cardinals end up with the same result Wednesday.
That’s where the Phillies step in. As wild as it is, the best team in baseball could still face three possible teams in the first round. If the Cards win and Braves lose the Phils get the Cards in the best-of-five NLDS. If the Brewers and Braves both win the Phillies get the Diamondbacks. And if the Brewers lose while the Braves and Diamondbacks win then the Phightins face the Brew Crew.
The Phillies record against each team this season:
Brewers – 4-3
Cards – 3-6
D-Backs – 3-3
Despite the records the Phillies should least want to face the Brewers because the Brewers batters have a history of success against Phillies No. 1 Roy Halladay, the Brewers have their own aces in Zach Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers are a MLB best 56-24 at home this season.
The Phils should want the young and inexperienced D-backs. Second best is a St. Louis team with huge gaps in the rotation and bullpen that plays the Phils hard but doesn’t have the firepower to out duel the Phillies four aces. Also the Cards would need to pull every stop along the way -- using every arm they have to try and beat the Braves Thursday. Plus their ace Chris Carpenter is pitching Wednesday and wouldn’t likely be available until Game 3 of the NLDS.
But considering the Cards success against the Phils and that Arizona is 44-24 since the All-Star break there are pros and cons to all the scenarios but I argue the Phillies losing Wednesday helps set up the best possible scenario for the five-time NL East champs.
- It would ensue that the Braves get at least a share of the wild-card. If the Cards win in Houston then the two teams would be forced to play Thursday. If the Cards win that game they play the Phillies, if the Cards lose the Phils get the D-Backs or Brewers.
- Since the Brewers are sending Greinke to the hill tonight at home against the Pirates, it’s likely that they win -- Greinke is 10-0 with a 3.13 ERA at Miller Park this season. That means the D-Backs would have to travel across the country to face the Phillies Saturday in cooler temps at CBP.
- Manager Charlie Manuel could use the game as a last chance to get a look at possible postseason players like John Bowker, Joe Blanton, Joe Savery and Brandon Moss instead of trying to win what is an essentially meaningless game.
- The Phillies wouldn’t sit alone atop the franchise win chart with 102 Ws.
Unfortunately due to time zones the Phils game should be wrapped up before the Brewers, Cardinals or Diamondbacks games, so it’s not like the Phillies could choose to win or lose Wednesday based off of what other teams do.
So there you have it, the pros outweigh the cons. So let’s be rooting for the Phillies to lose their finale to set up the best possible scenario going into the postseason.