2022 Phillies: 3rd Wild Card’s Charm

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With every defeat or hard-fought victory, some Philadelphia Phillies faithful vent with empty threats, while others mentally eliminate stars from the roster after an unfortunate performance. Who remains Realistically, every player has rough patches, but most fans only remember the aces and sluggers for their best days.

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Over, Under and Sideways:

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Success begets confidence and raises expectations, but nothing good or bad lasts forever: Inevitability is disruptive: The team or regular is neither as good or bad as their best or worst respectively because reality is the midpoint. Basically, this is true of everything on this third rock from the sun, paradise lost. Remember, philosophy offered the answers for eons.

Put Another Way:

“The world is for those who make their dreams come true.” – Harold Gray

In Atlanta, they call the negative fan base the doomers, and, yeah, they believed their club had no shot at the division or the National League Wild Card Series. Currently, the New York Mets fans are pointing out every wart their franchise has in management and on the field: World Series’ aspirations have evaporated.

When you’re a fan, you take the good, the middle and the bad. Ergo, players have talent, not perfection: They are us with an earned opportunity in their area of expertise. And if you think they don’t care, Richie Ashburn had won the 1958 NL Batting Crown with a .358 average, yet he specifically pointed out his two-week slump years later as a color broadcaster.

Ah, yes, the bullpen’s backend gives everybody heartburn. And even though the organization expects 75-80 percent to be good or acceptable, many naysayers react emotionally even with close calls. Recently, David Robertson, Seranthony Dominguez, Kenley Jansen and Devin Williams had acceptable –bend, don’t break– outings they escaped.

Phillies, Braves and Brewers Escapes:

(Late Innings with the bases loaded)

  • Phillies David Robertson, Sept. 29 (away): 2 outs vs. the Cubs in the 7th.
  • Phillies Seranthony Dominguez, Sept. 30 (away): 1 out vs. the Nationals in the 9th.
  • Braves Kenley Jansen, Sept. 30 (home): 1 out vs. the Mets in the 9th.
  • Brewers Devin Williams, Sept. 30 (home): 2 outs vs. the Marlins in the 9th.

Rather than total stats for possible rotations the Phillies may face in the playoffs, the numbers here are for September and October. Firstly, the Metropolitans four-man staff will likely be Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Chris Bassett and Taijuan Walker in that order. And they will host the San Diego Padres.

Mets Rotation Stats for September and October:

(All numbers through Oct. 4)

  • deGrom, 34: 5 Gms., 28 Inns., 1-3 and a 4.50 ERA.
  • Scherzer, 38: 4 Gms., 22 ⅔ Inns., 2-1 and a 2.38 ERA.
  • Bassett, 33.5: 6 Gms., 33 ⅓ Inns., 4-1 and a 3.78 ERA.
  • Walker, 30: 6 Gms., 34 ⅔ Inns., 2-2 and a 3.64 ERA.

Braves Rotation Stats for September and October:

(All numbers through Oct. 4)

  • Fried, 28.5: 5 Gms., 27 Inns., 2-2 and a 2.00 ERA.
  • Wright, 27: 5 Gms., 25 ⅔ Inns., 4-0 and a 5.26 ERA.
  • Morton, almost 39: 6 Gms., 31 ⅔ Inns., 3-1 and a 5.40 ERA.
  • Odorizzi, 32.5: 5 Gms., 21 Inns., 1-1 and a 6.43 ERA.

Despite a rotation without similar household names, the Atlanta Braves will go with Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Charlie Morton and Jake Odorizzi if Spencer Strider doesn’t return from his oblique injury for the NLDS. Moreover, the Phils or Cards will be their opponents in the divisional series.

The St. Louis Cardinals have some decision-making regarding their four-man staff. But if they go with the fifth-day approach, the order would be Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and southpaw Jose Quintana. Keep in mind, though, they also have Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty. Stats or reputation?

Cardinals Rotation Stats for September and October:

(All numbers through Oct. 4) UPDATE on Oct. 6:

  • Wainwright, 41: 6 Gms., 28 ⅔ Inns., 2-3 and a 7.22 ERA.
  • Mikolas, 34: 5 Gms., 31 Inns., 2-3 and a 2.32 ERA. Game 2 Starter.
  • Quintana, 33.5: 5 Gms., 30 ⅓ Inns., 2-1 and a 0.89 ERA. Game 1 Starter.
  • Flaherty, almost 27: 5 Gms., 27 Inns., 2-1 and a 4.00 ERA.
  • Montgomery, 29.5: 6 Gms., 33 Inns., 2-3 and a 4.36 ERA.

Phillies Rotation Stats for September and October:

(All numbers through Oct. 4)

  • Wheeler, 32.5: 3 Gms., 15 Inns., 1-0 and a 0.60 ERA.
  • Nola, 29.5: 6 Gms., 34 ⅓ Inns., 2-2 and a 2.36 ERA.
  • Suarez, 27: 6 Gms., 31 ⅔ Inns., 2-2 and a 4.55 ERA.
  • Falter, 25.5: 5 Gms., 25 ⅔ Inns., 3-1 and a 3.51 ERA.

The Fightins will face the Cards, and the red pinstripes have a decent shot to advance to the NLDS. Barring any changes, their foursome will be Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez and Bailey Falter. In fact, the difference between the Phils and baseball heaven’s club could be which team’s rotation has been more effective after Aug. 31.

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Potential Matchups:

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According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the redbirds are in clock-and-dagger mode regarding their postseason starters. But Wainwright’s next turn would be Oct. 7, plus Mikolas and Quintana pitched three innings each as a tune-up on Oct. 3 for Oct. 8 and 9, perhaps? Therefore, the skyscrapers could be difficult to find for the steel, concrete and glass.

In game one, Wheeler is the Fightins’ scheduled hurler, and Wainwright is his likely opponent. But the aging star could be the sentimental choice because of prior big-game success. Meanwhile, Wheeler has only allowed one run (earned) since returning from the injured list, and he can succeed without his best stuff.

While Nola has excised his September demons, he has a 2.36 ERA since Sept. 1. And he should start against Mikolas with Quintana in the three slot. Translation: Their front three may not be better than the Phils’ best three, and that could be an advantage.

Even though the red pinstripes have two right-handers and two lefties, Suarez would start the game-three elimination contest against Quintana. Or he could open the NLDS if the Phillies reel off two triumphs in St. Louis.

Slotting fourth if they play three in St. Louis, Falter has outpitched Noah Syndergaard and Kyle Gibson, but all starters may not be on the wild-card roster. Of course, Falter –like Suarez– must have pinpoint control, and both have mostly done that: 10 of 12 September and October contests with one clunker apiece.

If the Fightins take the Wild Card Series in three battles, they would begin the NLDS with Falter and Wheeler instead of Suarez and Wheeler after a two-game set. Plus Suarez and Falter will be on short leashes because managers handle the postseason differently: Any situation can determine the series, and shorter sets benefit a weaker club.

In 1964, the Phils had collapsed, but the 2007 squad was on the positive end of a meltdown. Yes, the 2011 Cards won their wild card at the last minute and beat the four aces, and now they have a divisional pennant, while we have our first playoff berth since 2011. Time for payback!

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NEXT: Magic Beyond Numbers

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