Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. believes the Phillies are a longshot to make the playoffs this season, telling MLB.com yesterday that such an occurence looks improbable at this point of the season.
"Right now, we're trying to win as many games as possible," Amaro told the website. "At the same time, at some point, we're going to have to start looking to the future. And once we're 'eliminated' … listen, is it a long shot to get back into this Wild Card race? It is. Numerically it's not impossible, but right now obviously I'd be foolish to say it's something that's probable."
The numbers back up Amaro's contention. The most favorable of playoff probability models, this one by FanGraphs.com, gives the Phillies a 0.2 percent chance at qualifying for the Wild Card. That’s roughly 1 in 500 odds, putting the Phillies in the same company as biblical-scale flood planes.
As Todd Zolecki notes, the Cardinals are currently on pace to take the last NL playoff spot at 86 wins. For the Phillies to finish with 86 wins, they would have to finish the season 33-8. As Amaro notes, such a run is improbable. The best 41-game streak in the majors this year is 29-12, by the Rays and the Angels. Last year, the Dodgers went 34-7 and 33-8 at different stretches during the season.
As for end-of-the-season runs, the 2001 and 2002 A’s both went 33-8 over their last 41 games. The only other team in the integration era to win at least 33 of its last 41 was the 1951 New York Giants.
The Phillies’ best 41-game streak this year is 20-21.
Their best 41-game streaks in recent seasons:
But the Phillies aren't throwing in the towel just yet. The numbers are telling them there's a chance. And until those numbers say otherwise, they have but one option.
"And at some point, we may be looking more at what we have to do for 2015 as far as what's going on, on the field," Amaro said. "But until then, we'll make the decision when it's the appropriate time, when it's time to start to looking to 2015 and beyond. We're not quite there yet."
Just win, baby.