The more everyone keeps saying don’t panic, the more I want to panic. I know. I know. You can’t win the division in April or May. But you sure can lose one. Coming into the season, you’d have to be a fool to think it was going to be as easy as last year. Howard’s Achilles was going to keep him out to May or even the All-Star break depending on who you asked. Every team in the division improved in one way or another.
Other than after their opening day victory the team hasn’t had a winning record. It’s been lose a few, get back to even, lose a few more, get back to even. It’s been my assertion, the team needs to play well enough that when the troops (i.e. Utley and Howard) arrive, they are within striking distance. Don’t let last year fool you 10 games back, isn’t really striking distance.
Normally, the Magic Number refers to the number combination of losses by one team and wins by another to clinch a playoff spot, but for all intensive purposes the Phillies magic number is 500 as in breaking even. Of course there are variables I cannot account for such as how well other teams play, or more importantly if or when the cavalry arrives. But if the Phillies can play .500 ball or slightly over, there won’t be a more favorable year for them to just squeak into the playoffs. First is the playoff expansion. A second wild card team may not be the most ideal situation since it’s a one game playoff, but if the rotation isn’t spent, Halladay, Lee or Hamels vs. whoever isn’t the end of the world. If you win that game, you actually get to start the divisional round with 2 games at home.
Ok but I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the mediocre team that’s playing now. If you take a look at the last 10 years, a second wild card team would have made the playoffs with an average of 90 wins. The highest total would 93 wins and the lowest 89. And that doesn’t count the fact there were several division winner who had a lower win total than the wild card teams. So how long is it feasible to play .500 ball and stay within contention?
At the midway point if the Phils are 41-41, they’d need to win 62% of their remaining games to reach 90. August 1st it jumps to 66% and by September its skyrockets to 82%. Basically, I give them until August 15, to be full strength and clicking on all cylinders to have a legitimate shot.
I can’t believe I’m hoping for .500 ball. Damn you, ghost of John Felske, Damn you!
See ya at the ball park!