They went from sitting in second place in the National League East — within striking distance of first-place Atlanta — to falling into one of the two wild card spots in the eight-team National League playoff field. And in the process, they caught the injury bug at the most inopportune time.
Meantime, how does being without Rhys Hoskins for most of the remaining 14 games sound? What about an uncertain timeline for J.T. Realmuto?
“It’s not gonna get any easier, but I mean that’s baseball. And this is what it is. And that’s why this game can be so frustrating sometimes, because you get in these roller coasters,” Girardi said.
Roller coasters are supposed to be fun. It’s hard to say that about the last 12 games.
Realmuto, who is in the final year of a contract, is a gamer and someone who hates to have even one day off. But he understands what’s responsible for him. He said weighing being there for the team and factoring in his future “kinda coincide with each other.”
“It doesn’t really benefit the team any for me to get out there before I’m ready, because all that causes is me to get out there and maybe make this injury worse, and then I miss the rest of the season. So it’s really in the best interest of myself and of the team for us to be on the same page and wait til this thing is right before I go out there and push it too much.”
The Phillies haven’t played postseason baseball since 2011. For at least the 2020 season, baseball expanded the playoff field to eight teams in each league — the first- and second-place teams in the three divisions, and two wild card squads who have the best records among the remaining franchises. Despite all the hurdles the Phils have dealt with this season, it would be disappointing for this club not to at least make the National League field.
While Girardi was trying to remain positive, Realmuto offered one of the more sensible postgame comments.
“Right now we’re in a playoff spot, and we really haven’t played very well, so we just need to play better,” the All-Star catcher said.
Heading into Tuesday’s action, the Phillies are the 7-seed in the National League, 2 1/2 games back of the Marlins for second in the National League East.
Presently, Miami would be the 5-seed. Gabe Kapler’s Giants are in the 8-spot, a half game back of the Phils. The Cincinnati Reds — the first team on the outside looking in — is 1 1/2 behind the Phillies.
The Phillies have 14 games to go in 13 days — a lot of time to fall out of postseason positioning, while not a lot of time to suddenly get back in the winning track.
The Phillies need to find a different roller coaster. The one they’re on now lacks the thrill of October, and doesn’t offer a fun opportunity for a smiling photo at the end.
“We’ve bounced back before,” Girardi said, “and we need to do it again.”