Phillies: Glug...glug...?

Doing the oddsmaking thing as we sit again on the edge of the sink, listening for the first sickening gurgle to emerge from the proverbial drain as the Phillies head to Shea Stadium.

If the Phils were to get swept this weekend by the Mets, they would be dead. They would be six games behind the Mets with 19 games left to play in the National League East standings, and at least 4.5 games behind the Brewers (but probably more) in the NL wildcard standings. I know, I know, they came from seven games behind with 17 left to play last year against the Mets, but this is not last year. That was a historic collapse. The Phils were a much better hitting team then -- although they've hit better lately. There would be no more games on the schedule against the Mets. It would be over. They would be done -- dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead. Their odds of winning would probably be about 2 percent.

If the Phils were to lose two of three to the Mets, they would be comatose. You cannot count on the Mets to collapse again. They show no signs of it -- in fact, they have shown a nice bounceability in recent weeks, coming from behind, hanging in games, even with a wretched bullpen (and especially in the absence of closer Billy Wagner). Odds of the Phils winning if they are four games out on Sunday night: 10 percent.

If the Phils were to win two out of three, they would be two behind with 19 to play. That is still a hill to climb. In the end, if this were to happen, it is looking more and more like they will have to hit themselves out of it. The pitching is much better than last season but the wear and tear of a long season is becoming apparent. The games being lost in the bullpen now are gut punches. The Phillies' bullpen ERA in the first half of the season was 2.71. In the second half, it is 4.39. The Mets' bullpen is still measurably worse -- its second-half bullpen ERA is 4.90; ouch -- but this is turning into a series of grisly car wrecks, night after night. It is a hard way to come from behind. So, win two of three and the Phillies' odds of winning the division grow to only 33 percent.

If the Phillies sweep, they will be even with the Mets with 19 to play and will have changed the entire psychology of the race. At that point, the Mets will officially be facing their own gagging past -- with helpful reminders from the friendly New York newspapers. It will still be a close call, obviously, because both teams are so clearly flawed. But the mental edge will belong to the Phillies then, even if the race was only tied. So, sweep and the Phillies' odds of winning the division would be 60 percent.

That's it. That's how hard it is going to be. That's what happens when you lost two out of three in Washington.