We need something dark and foreboding:
There we go. Ok. So I’m going to go out and say it–I’m not convinced the Phillies are going to make the playoffs anymore. Here are the standings. I know, we’re still at 99.4 percent to make it, 4 up with 6 to play, but with the Braves on a 7-game winning streak and the Phillies unable to beat the Brewers behind Cliff Lee and the Astros behind Cole Hamels, I’m not exactly, what’s the word, brimminig with confidence like I was before. Ironically enough, being up 7 with 2 months to go I was fine, but with the magic number at 3, the Phillies need to go .500 in a stretch that includes the Marlins. And the Phillies, in this decade, are something like 4-133 against the Marlins in September. Even when they were losing 100 games a year, they always beat us late in the season. Meanwhile, the Braves close the season with 4 against the Nationals. I don’t think the schedule could set up any worse. Even if we were closing against a better team, like the Yankees, I’d like our chances because there’s something intangible about the Marlins in September that turns their bats into the fists of Thor when they play the Phillies. I hate it.
As a lifelong Phillies fan, I can talk myself into just about any disaster, including an unprecedented collapse for the Phillies to miss the playoffs. The worst part is, it wouldn’t even take that for them to miss the playoffs. The 1995 Angels, 1951 Dodgers, and 2007 Mets have all done worse. The Braves are at 1.7 percent to win the division. There have been 22 teams to come back from that kind of deficit. Hell, it’s happened seven times in my lifetime.
It’s good to know that a World Series title hasn’t dampened my pessimism.
Oh, and here’s another interesting tidbit. Please forgive my crude math; I realize that this is probably not 100% bulletproof sabermetrics, but it’s a quick and dirty way of understanding how much the back end of the Phillies bullpen has cost the team. All the stats are from ESPN, but I forgot to link as I was going along and don’t feel like going back and doing it again.
Right now, the Phillies have won 90 games. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge have combined, however, for 40 saves, 27 holds, and 17 blown saves, good for a 79.7 percent conversion rate, a number that brings to mind that scene in Smoking Aces where the Tremor Brothers burst out of the elevator and start mowing down hotel security guards. I don’t think that apocalyptic is too strong a word. Now, let’s take a good-but-not-great bullpen from this year and see how they’ve done. The Giants’ closer, Brian Wilson, and their top setup man, Jeremy Affeldt (I’m glad to see he’s finally as good in real life as he was in MVP 2005…) have combined for 38 saves, 34 holds and 7 blown saves (all Wilson’s), or 91.1 percent. If the Phillies had gotten a save or hold out of 91 percent of their save opportunities, that eliminates about 9 1/2 blown saves, putting the Phillies on 99 wins (we’ll eliminate half of a blown save that the Phillies have come back and won). The division’s clinched and if the team goes .500 from now until the end of the season, they beat the franchise record for wins in a season, which now stands at 101.
Another aside: The Phillies have only won 100 games twice in their history, which goes back to 1883. They’ve only won 90 ten times in that span, including this year. That’s fucking pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.
Now that’s with an average back end. With last year’s back end (Madson and Lidge, 42 saves, 17 holds, 2 blown saves, 96.6 percent), they win 14 more games. That’s 104 with 6 games to go and, therefore, an outside chance of winning 110.
That should throw into stark relief (ha ha ha) how bad this team has been screwed by its closers. With last year’s Supermax lockdown bullpen, this team is not only a contender to repeat, it’s up there in all-time-great team territory. Here are some of the teams that have won between 104 and 110 games in a season. We’re not talking about the 1971 Pirates here. To name a few in brief: 1927 Yankees, 1970 Orioles, 1975 Reds, 1942 Cardinals. That’s in the area of probably the two greatest teams of all time, the Murderers Row Yankees and the Big Red Machine.
Jesus Jetpacking Christ.