Can Phillies Make Late Run To Playoffs? Odds Favor No
It was presumed that the high-priced and highly disappointing Philadelphia Phillies had thrown in the towel on the 2012 season when they traded outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence to the L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, respectively, at the July 31 trade deadline (and traded pitcher Joe Blanton to the Dodgers shortly after the deadline).
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On Aug. 1, the Phillies were 47-57 - the NL East title was long gone and so was, presumably, a wild-card spot as Philadelphia was 12 games out of the NL's second spot. But entering Wednesday's series finale vs. the Miami Marlins, the Phils were at .500 and just four games out of the second wild-card spot. Philadelphia had won six straight and 10 of 12 entering Wednesday.
The Phils' Big 3 of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee all are healthy and pitching up to expectations at the same time for the first time in 2012. And Kyle Kendrick has been a terrific No. 4 starter, not having allowed more than two earned runs in his past six starts. Kendrick's ERA has dropped from 4.86 to 3.83 in that stretch and the Phils have won five of those starts. In September, the Phillies staff has a stellar 2.44 ERA and opposing batters are hitting just .231.
Could the Phillies become this year's Rays or Cardinals and storm back from a huge wild-card deficit to steal a playoff spot? Bovada has a prop on that: -800 that Philadelphia will make the playoffs or +500 it will.
The immediate schedule sets up well for the Phils. They start a seven-game road trip Thursday at Houston with four games before then heading to New York. Both the Astros and Mets are playing for nothing but pride, and Houston is easily the worst team in baseball. Philadelphia also has six games remaining vs. Washington this season. Yes, the Nats have the best record in baseball but will almost nothing to play for with the division title wrapped up. In addition, Washington now is without ace Stephen Strasburg for the rest of 2012 after he was shut down last week.
Just a week ago, the Phillies were no longer a betting option for the World Series title or the National League pennant. Now Philadelphia is 40/1 to win it all and 18/1 to win the pennant.
Weekend Live Betting Schedule
There is a quartet of games with playoff implications available for live betting at the book on Thursday: Rays at Orioles, Athletics at Angels, Yankees at Red Sox and Cardinals at Dodgers.
The first three are all series finales. Tampa Bay, Baltimore and New York are all fighting for the AL East title. Currently Baltimore or New York, if neither won the division but finished ahead of Tampa Bay, hold down the final wild-card spot behind Oakland.
The A's still have a shot at the AL West title as well, while it's wild-card or bust for the Halos. Thursday's pitching matchup in L.A. is terrific as Oakland starts lefty Brett Anderson (4-0, 0.69) vs. the Angels' Jered Weaver (16-4, 2.86). Anderson has been incredible since his return from Tommy John surgery but hasn't faced the Angels yet. Weaver returns from missing a start with biceps tendinitis. He has lost his status as the AL's Cy Young leader with a 1-3 record and 6.14 ERA in his past five starts. Los Angeles opened as a -150 favorite.
The rest of the live betting schedule this weekend is: Pirates at Cubs (Thursday), Rays at Yankees (Friday and Saturday), Cardinals at Dodgers (Friday) and Nationals at Braves (Sunday).
No team needs a series win or two than sliding Pittsburgh. Since a 19-inning win over St. Louis on Aug. 19, the Pirates have gone 5-15. Ironically, Pittsburgh's 2011 season also went south after a 19-inning game vs. Atlanta. The Pirates are now 25/1 to win the NL pennant and 65/1 to win the World Series (only Arizona has longer odds on both).
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