Yep, that title is correct. If you’ll give me a chance to explain, I’ll tell you why it’s getting closer to reality with every passing game of the MLB season. Yes, the Phillies compete in the National League East division in baseball. So why then, is it important for them to win the Central, a division they don’t even compete in and can’t actually win? Just take a look at the standings in the National League and they’ll tell you exactly why. There’s an interesting dynamic going on in the NL this season, with two powerhouse divisions on opposite coasts, and a dreck of a division in the middle. The Dodgers and Padres are dominant out west, the Mets and Braves dominant here in the East. Then, in the Central, the Cardinals and Brewers are close to each other, but nowhere near the stratosphere of those 4 other teams. They each share a 57-48 record, which is good for a tie atop the Central, but it also matches the record of one other team: your Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phils, Cards, and Brewers all stand at 57-48 at this point in the season. Now, I know what you’re saying: Connor, don’t the Phillies only have to beat out one of those teams to make it in? Technically you’re right, and it could very well play out that way, but I don’t want the Phillies to wait around and find out. As of today, I’m considering the Phillies as an honorary member of the NL Central. The Brewers and Cardinals seemed destined to be locked in a fight for the division until game 162, and if the Phillies finish better than both of them, well, they’ll certainly be in the dance for the first time in a decade. It’s a funny way to think about things, but really, these two teams are much bigger points of focus than the Mets or Braves are right now.
The good news is that the Phillies hold the tie breaker over both of their NL Central foes by winning the season series over both Milwaukee and St. Louis. That’s a huge part of this equation that certainly gives the Fightins an advantage in this race, but that only helps out in the case of a tie. The Phillies are the more talented of the 3 teams in my opinion, especially since the trade deadline additions that Dave Dombrowski made. They have no reason why they shouldn’t get into the 2022 MLB Playoffs, but the chase has shifted venues. The NL East is always going to be where we pay the most attention, but for the remainder of this year, the NL Central is the race that the Phillies are going to have to win to get in.