Phillies clinch playoff spot for the first time since 2011

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Phillies celebrate
Philadelphia Phillies’ Matt Vierling is doused by teammates after he hit a game-winning RBI-single against Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Adam Cimber during the 10th inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Eagles are undefeated, the 76ers are legitimate contenders, and the Philadelphia Phillies just punched their ticket to the MLB Playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

Despite a Milwaukee Brewers come-from-behind win, their season is still over. The Phillies took matters into their own hands and have done it.

Not since the days of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins has a Phillies team played in October, but finally, with a core featuring Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Rhys Hoskins, Wildcard baseball is on the horizon.

Everyone, feel free to unclench now. The Phillies are back.

Who’s next for the Phillies?

With a Wildcard spot in the bag, the Phils will start prepping for a three-game series against either the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, or St. Louis Cardinals. That all depends on how much ground they can make on the San Diego Padres over the season’s final two games.

If they overtake the Padres, they’ll face the Mets or Braves. If they don’t, heigh-ho St. Louis.

Of course, either way, those three games will be away from home, and the possibility remains that playoff baseball never makes its way to Citizen’s Bank Park. But let’s not be so gloomy, especially after this weekend in the Northeast.

Against all odds, the New York Mets look like a Wildcard team, and that’s bad news for the Phillies. The Mets have outscored the Phillies 100-63, winning fourteen of nineteen total games.

Even in a three-game contest, the thought of going to Citi Field gives me heartburn. Fingers crossed for the Cardinals.

MV3s (not who you’re thinking)

The 2022 iteration of the Philadelphia Phillies wasn’t painless.

This team has seen three separate five-game losing streaks, including one to close out September, but you could always count on a couple of guys in the clubhouse to get things back on track.

And although Bryce Harper performed admirably, he missed too much time to injury. I still think three players on this roster pushed the Phillies over the top, and here they are.

Aaron Nola

It hasn’t always been pretty for Aaron Nola, especially over his last month, but he will finish the year with over 200 innings pitched for the first time since 2019.

Not to mention the performance he put together in a playoff-clinching performance tonight.

His 10.3 SO/9 ranks fourth best in the National League, and although I understand the arguments for Zack Wheeler, Nola was homegrown, and for the first time in his eight-year career, he will pitch in the playoffs. It’s a nice story for a team with a handful of transplants.

Kyle Schwarber

Kyle Schwarber got off to a slow start, but as we inch closer to the season finale, it seems he will finish the year as the National League leader in home runs. Even with a WAR of 1.9, the second worst of the top-ten NL homerun leaders, it’s not hard to argue his impact on this clubhouse and justify the $19MM he’s made in ’22.

The Phillies have him locked in until 2026.

J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto unequivocally remains the best backstop in all of baseball. A 6.3 WAR was built on more than just his 20+ homers and stolen bases but his ability to mow down runners consistently. Baserunners brave enough to run on Realmuto have been thrown out 44% of the time, 20% higher than the league average.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum