It is now the first of August and the start of the dog days of summer, before we enter the period known as the September pennant races. At the moment, the Philles are leading the National League East, holding a slim one game lead over a resurgent New York Mets squad. How are Charlie Manuel’s boys doing it at the moment/ Let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we?
First, by months. Everybody knows that for the last few seasons people have kept saying that this team needed to win games early in the season, to get a quick start, if they wanted to be in contention for the pennant during September. Well, have they? In fact, they have:
As can be seen, the team has won three of the four months, with their best month being May, and their worst being June, which coincided with their bad spell of Interleague play. More on that later.
Another thing that people have said is that you need to win series to stay in contention, and the Phillies so far have also done that. At the moment, they have won 17 series, lost 13 and have tied 4. Of those 17 series wins, they have won all of the games (sweep) in five of them (Colorado (2), Atlanta (2), Washington (1)) while they have been swept only once (Los Angeles (AL)).
Another thing that you need to do is to lead in your division. And the Phillies have also done that, believe it or not. In fact, they have done pretty well against both their own division and the other two divisions in the National League:
National League East: 24-19
National League Central: 17-12
National League West: 14-7
Unfortunately, they have not done well this season against teams from the American League, going 4-11 in Interleague play.
But, how have they done against other clubs in the National League? For the most part, they presently have losing records with only two teams, both of them being in their division:
National League East:
Atlanta Braves: 10-2
Washington Nationals: 6-3
Florida Marlins: 4-5
New York Mets: 4-9
It is quite obvious that they would have to beat the pants off of both the Mets and the Marlins, whom they will meet for a total of 14 games during the last two months of the season, for the Phillies to gain complete control of the division. They also have 15 games left with the Nationals and the Braves.
National League Central:
Cincinnati Reds: 5-3
Houston Astros: 4-3
St. Louis Cardinals: 3-3
Chicago Cubs: 2-1
Pittsburgh Pirates: 2-1
Milwaukee Brewers: 1-1
The Phillies have one more series each with the Cardinals (this weekend), the Cubs, the Pirates and the Brewers for a total of 14 games, which may be important towards the home stretch, especially the four games series against the Cubs in Chicago at the end of the month and the four games series with the Brew Crew at home in mid-September as part of a seven games home stand.
National League West:
Colorado Rockies: 5-0
Arizona Diamonbacks: 4-3
San Francisco Giants: 3-3
San Diego Padres: 2-1
Los Angeles Dodgers: 0-0
Against the West, the Phillies have only three series left, a three games series with the Padres and two four games sets with the Dodgers, that may become important games for both teams in their divisional pennant races later on this month, for a total of 11 games. With the addition of Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers via a deadline trade, the Phillies will probably be trying real hard to get at least a split with the Dodgers.
Last, and certainly not least, the Phillies did not do very well this year in Interleague play. Lets face it, they stank, as they went 2-4 against two teams in the American League East, and 2-7 against three teams from the American League West, while going 1-5 against two of the elite teams in the American League (Boston and Los Angeles Angels):
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 0-3
Toronto Blue Jays: 1-2
Boston Red Sox: 1-2
Oakland Athletics: 1-2
Texas Rangers: 1-2
With their record against American League teams in Interleague play, it means that this team, if it makes it to the playoffs and is able to get into the World Series, will have a problem defeating an American League ballclub, unless they are able to get some more pitching to help bolster the bullpen, or another strong bat either among the regulars or on the bench. Of course, that’s just my opinion. I have no idea what the cheapo owners of this team thinks on extra help.
The Phillies overall record of 59-49 is the fourth best in the National League. The Phillies will probably need to win their division to get into the playoffs, since the Cardinals and Brewers have better records than they do as they presently lead the way in the Wild Card race. The best way for the Phillies to win their division is to start winning series with the Mets and the Marlins, especially against the Mets, whom they have five more games left to play, while they have nine more games to play with the fish, starting this coming Tuesday at home. If they can take care of business with those two teams, especially during the September stretch run, the only real team they will have left to worry about afterwards is the Nationals, since the Nationals will at that point be trying to play the spolier role, especially since they will be playing the Phillies in Philadelphia during the last weekend of the season. Keep your fingers crossed people, it’s going to be a real bumpy last two months of the season.