Operation 88 Wins

Michael Martinez hit a three-run home run against the Rockies on Wednesday. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

Gotta admit. For awhile it was interesting to watch this team on a nightly basis, because what I was watching was so unlike anything I had seen since I started to cover the beat in 2008. The offense looked like the offense that I expected. The bullpen was a bit worse. The defense? Unprecedented. In previous seasons, a team like the Astros or the Pirates or the Cubs or the Mets would arrive in town and only then would you realize just how good the Phillies were on that side of the ball. But for the bulk of this season, the Phillies have been That Team.

Anyway, last night was an exception, but it is going to have to become the norm if the Phillies hope to play their way back into postseason contention. As silly as it sounds, the playoffs are still quite possible.

We outline the complete scenario in today's column in the Daily News. The recipe starts with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley replicating the performances they provided in their last 56 combined starts of 2011, when they averaged 7 innings and under 2 runs allowed per outing. The Phillies went 39-17 in those 56 starts, and, well we break it down from there.

The minimum threshold I chose was 88 wins, because 14 of the last 16 teams who would have been the second NL wild card finished the regular season with at least 88 wins. But nine of those teams finished with at least 89. The 2006 Phillies were the lowest at 85. 

Below is the complete win total for the woulda-been wild cards from the 16 full seasons of the wild card era:

2011: 89

2010: 90

2009: 88

2008: 89

2007: 89

2006: 85

2005: 88

2004: 91

2003: 87

2002: 92

2001: 90

2000: 86

1999: 96

1998: 89

1997: 88

1996: 88