It’s now been 10 years since the last time the Phillies have seen the MLB playoffs. After a team that won five straight division titles and should have won multiple World Series from 2007-2011, it’s been pure mediocracy since.
Now that the MLB has expanded to three wildcard teams per league, the Phillies have set themselves up for a serious chance to make the dance. And as we all know, once you’re in, anything can happen.
The Phillies team at PhillySportsNetwork.com decided to weigh in to see what we expect out of the team, as well as how they can get there after a great first-half start to the season.
PSN Phillies Team Predictions
Ricky Amandeo- Phillies Team Managing Editor
After some serious talent acquired over the last few offseasons, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Phillies have a legit chance to make a playoff push. However, due to years of agony and pain, it’s so hard to buy into this team.
We watched Philadelphia have a historic month of June, spearheaded by Kyle Schwarber. Now, it’s time to continue that momentum into the rest of July and beyond. The NL East has four teams that could legitimately make a push for the playoffs, and even a couple of deep playoff runs, but due to a three-team wildcard, it’s very likely the Phils get in.
Dave Dombrowski needs to be a huge buyer at the trade deadline. A solid utility guy like Brandon Drury and a starting pitcher like Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas (I’m dreaming, I know) would put this team over the hump. Not to mention, the possible returns of Bryce Harper and Jean Segura at the key stretch toward the end of the season.
At this point, I feel like it’s a matter of ripping the bandaid off and making the playoffs. A packed Citizens Bank Park on a cool October night sounds like a romantic getaway to all fans at this point. The winning atmosphere will set the tone for the years to come, even if a championship isn’t in the cards this season.
Tommy Orme- Phillies Contributor & Team In-House Betting Specialist
I expect the Phillies to make a move for some utility man that can stretch into the outfield – think Brandon Drury. As much love as I have for Johan Camargo, he’s only appeared in 49 of their 92 games amidst injuries, and the Phillies need another tool. Drury’s seen action across every infield position and remains an option for, at the very least, the corners of the outfield. Not to mention, he’s half a year rental and shouldn’t be too expensive.
Additionally, of the Phillies’ 22 remaining series following the All-Star Break, only nine of them are against teams with a winning record. That also includes six total series against either the Nationals or Marlins. That’s all to say that if the Phillies can’t wiggle their way into a Wildcard spot, they have no one to blame but themselves. I believe we’ll see Phillies playoff baseball for the first time since 2011.
Personal expectations: stay away from the parlays. The thankless jaws of FanDuel already have enough of my money.
Shaun Nestor- Phillies Team Lead Writer
The Phillies have done an amazing job working their way back into the playoff hunt since the firing of Joe Girardi. Expect that work to continue throughout the second half of the season. With 70 games remaining, I would expect this current team to go 40-30 the rest of the way, with the prospect of additional players being brought in at the Trade Deadline pushing the Phillies over the 90-win threshold.
While Deadline acquisitions and the healthy return of Bryce Harper will be necessary, there are two other players on the team that will make or break their playoff run: Alec Bohm and Nick Castellanos.
While Bohm is not the flashiest player on the team, he has quietly improved defensively at third. Meanwhile, his bat has improved immensely over the season with him owning a .902 OPS over the past month.
Castellanos… has left a lot to be desired so far. And while the make-belief general managers of the Phillies Twitterverse have already deemed Castellanos a bust, he is a gamer that has posted at minimum a 100 OPS+ for each of the past six years. Expect Castellanos to find a hot streak and change the hearts and minds of many Phillies fans during the second half.
Kyle Fisher- Phillies Team Contributor
Through injuries, bad timing on some losses, and a pitching staff held together with popsicle sticks, duct tape, and a few un-popped popcorn kernels a la MacGyver – the Phillies are looking up in their division at two of the strongest teams in the National League.
One of their big free agent signings has been dominant since the start of June, and the other is Nick Castellanos. A soft spot for Phillies fans looking for reasons to complain on Twitter, the Philadelphia slugger is having a down year in a season where they could use his offensive prowess the most. With an OPS that would be his career-worst at the moment, Castellanos has hope for the remainder of the season.
His career .803 OPS is heavily bolstered by his performance in August and September. With a .848 career OPS in the month of August (his best month) and a .823 OPS in the months of September (his second best), there is reason to believe that Castellanos will begin to thrive when the team needs him most and as the rest of the roster begins to get healthy.
He will be a force to be reckoned with in the second half. Riding the momentum Castellanos will give them, they may fall short of the division but a key trade deadline move will help the Phillies secure one of the wild card spots and end the postseason drought.
Phillies Team Contributor- Matt Watson
The Phillies are riding high without one of the best players in baseball. It is time to end the 11-year playoff drought. The Phils will finish in one of the three wild card spots and play in the first ever expanded Wild Card round. I expect the Phillies to make it and win their first-round matchup.
Aaron Nola has returned to the Aaron Nola of 2018. That season, Aaron did not win the Cy Young award, and while it might be hard for him to outpitch Sandy Alcantara, I expect Nola to again finish in the top 5 for the Cy Young award. He has proven that he has improved on the mistakes that plagued his last few seasons. If he does have a rough outing, he has been consistent enough in his next start to bounce back. Aaron has not pitched well in September in the past couple of years. I expect Nola to overcome his late-season demons and help guide the club to the postseason.
This year’s second half contains my favorite part of the MLB season, the Trade Deadline. I expect the Phillies to buy at the deadline and make a splash. I feel Dave Dombrowski will go all in and try to guarantee the playoffs. The player I think the Phillies will land is Luis Castillo. The right-hander for the Reds makes too much sense for the Phils. Adding depth to the rotation is my priority number one. Castillo not only makes the team better this season but going forward as well. Wheeler-Nola-Castillo would instantly become a top 5 if not top 3 rotation in baseball.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson