It’s starting to become now or never for the Philadelphia Phillies, who sit 2.5 games out of the final NL wild card spot and 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for first in the NL East.
The Phillies have dropped five of their last six games, with three of those losses coming to the struggling Colorado Rockies. The good news for the Phillies is that the schedule gets very friendly over the next two weeks.
They’ll host the Chicago Cubs for a three-game set before visiting the slumping New York Mets in a weekend series. Philadelphia will return home for a seven-game homestand that begins with a trio of contests against the Baltimore Orioles, who hold the worst record in baseball.
Afterwards, the Phillies will host the Pittsburgh Pirates (the second worst team in the National League) for four games.
The Phillies open up as -1.5 favorites in each of their first two games against the Cubs. Philadelphia sports fans can learn more about betting at Pennsylvania Betting Sites.
Pirates Claim De Los Santos
After being placed on waivers by the Philliees, 25-year-old pitcher Enyel De Los Santos was claimed by the Pirates.
De Los Santos appeared in 26 games for the Phillies this season. He pitched 28 total innings and struggled mightily with a 6.75 ERA while allowing 14 walks against 42 strikeouts.
De Los Santos also saw brief action for the Phillies in 2018 (seven game appearances) and 2019 (five games).
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Velasquez Designated For Assignment
On the weekend, the Phillies also announced that they have designated veteran pitcher Vince Velasquez for assignment.
The 29-year-old starter is 3-6 this season in 21 games. Velasquez, who has been with the Phillies since 2016, has struggled with a career-worst 5.95 ERA.
This will mark his third season with the Phillies in which Velasquez carried an ERA north of 5.00 (5.13 in 2017 and 5.56 in 2020).
For his career, Velasquez is 31-41 with a 4.88 ERA and 700 strikeouts against 45 walks. He is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Phillies Move Down In MLB.com Power Rankings
MLB.com released their latest power rankings on Sunday, and the Phillies found themselves in the No. 16 spot. This is a one-spot drop from last week’s rankings (15th).
The Phillies went 2-5 last week, narrowly avoiding sweeps against the Milwaukee Brewers and aforementioned Rockies. Needless to say, it was a very uninspiring week full of missed opportunities after entering last Monday on a 7-2 run.
At this point, it’s hard to be confident about the Phillies going on a run and qualifying for the postseason. FanGraphs only gives them an 8.5 percent chance of winning the division -- and a 15.2 percent chance of making the playoffs.
While the Phillies are slumping, Atlanta has gotten red hot behind a powerful offense and a stout rotation anchored by Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson. At this point, there’s no real reason to believe the Phillies can erase the 4.5-game deficit and steal the division.
As for the wild card? The San Francisco Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers will win the NL West, and the other will host the NL Wild Card Game.
The Cincinnati Reds occupy the final wild card spot in the NL, but the San Diego Padres and surging St. Louis Cardinals are right on their tails.
All three clubs have played much better baseball than Philly, and all of them feature the deep lineups and pitching staffs to finish well ahead of Joe Girardi’s squad.
That said, Philadelphia’s soft schedule gives them a prime opportunity to finish with a winning season for the first time since 2011, when they went 102-60. Philly went 81-81 in both 2012 and 2019 but they have otherwise only recorded losing seasons since 2013.
The prediction here is that the Phillies’ bats, led by NL MVP candidate Bryce Harper, will do more than enough damage to the weak opponents like Baltimore and Pittsburgh to push this team to 84 wins.
That won’t be enough to earn a playoff spot, but the franchise’s first winning season in 10 years will be cause for optimism.
Prediction: Phillies Finish 84-78, Second In NL East