October 5, 2022

MLB Wild Card: The Phillies are one of the best teams in baseball since Bryce Harper's injury

MLB Wild Card: The Phillies are one of the best teams in baseball since Bryce Harper’s injury

Bryce Harper’s injury in San Diego on June 25 was a chance to sink the Phillies’ season, as was Andrew McCutchen’s injury in San Diego in June 2019.

The Phillies won their first game without Harper – an important victory as he clinched the season’s streak against Padres, which may be important for tiebreak purposes – and then lost two games in a row to the Braves that were 39-37.

At that point, Phillies were dropping their best player and falling off seven teams in the National League. They were two games behind the Giants, three degrees behind the Cardinals, 4 degrees behind the Brewers and 6 degrees behind the Padres.

They’ve gone 21-11 since then to jump in front of the Giants, the Brewers and Padres and go on to a tie with the Cardinals. Velez now has a 92.8% chance of making the playoffs, according to baseball reference simulation.

There’s plenty of baseball left — 54 games, exactly a third of the season — but the Phils are playing well collectively, receiving contributions from across the roster and heading toward the playoffs in a way they haven’t seen since 2011.

said Rhys Hoskins, who was in for the fourth in a row on Sunday and felt fine after being hit on his right bicep by a fastball in the mid-’90s.

“I think we’re deeper. I think with the additions we did on the deadline, we got more good players. You look at the teams that won and won a lot, especially later in the year, everyone is deep. One guy can come down and another guy steps in.” I love our depth this year and I think it will really help us and hopefully lead us into October.”

Velez’s rosters from 2018 to 2021 were expensive with outstanding individual performance, but the team was very heavy with little depth in key areas. Last summer, they were transferred by Harper for three months. This summer, production came from just about every district—some nights it was the start, some nights it was the start, some nights it was a young player, some nights an expensive vet, some nights it was all of the above.

Since Harper’s injury, Phillies have had the fifth-most number of home runs in the tournament and have recorded the sixth-most number of runs. They have the seventh-best record, but only three teams — the Astros, Dodgers and Mariners — have more than a game better record than the Phillies 21-13 without Harper.

“I think we are better equipped,” coach Rob Thompson said after Sunday’s win. “Every team is different. I know the last few years we haven’t played well in September, but every team was a little bit different, it wasn’t exactly the same group. This is a different group. There is a lot of leadership at the club and a lot of winners on the field.”

Only 19 of the Phillies’ remaining 54 games come against teams with winning records, and three of those matches are the final three of the season with the Astros, who could already be on rest if they or the Yankees had cemented the top seed in by then.

This weekend’s results not only propelled the Phillies to the top of the wild card standings, but also made the Braves more accessible. As Phils swept through the Nationals, the Braves lost four of five to the Mets. The Phillies are now three backers of the Braves with seven more face-to-face meetings remaining, all from September 16-25. While there is little difference between the second and third wild card positions, the best wild card team gets the home field advantage in the first qualifying series, so it’s worth watching through to the end.