In a perfect world, the Philadelphia Phillies will actually be playing meaningful baseball games in September of 2014. So lets just assume for a few minutes that this is the case. Let’s even go so far as to say that come next September, the Phillies will be in a dogfight for the NL East with at least one of their divisional opponents.
Sounds good, right?
The only problem is that even if the Phillies are in a heated NL East battle, their September schedule looks to be brutal and could be an absolute killer. And if the Phillies are just barely hanging on to division-winning hopes at the beginning of the month, the tough schedule might be the final nail in the coffin.
The only saving grace for Philadelphia is six games against the Miami Marlins and a four-game set against the San Diego Padres. But other than that, the schedule is brutal and features a whopping four series against teams that currently occupy at least a share of first place in their respective division. This of course, includes the Atlanta Braves.
There will be a lot of expectations for the Braves next season, especially since they will soon be 2013 NL East champions. The Phillies too, in Ryne Sandberg‘s first full season, will be expected to do better than this year. Ultimately, a close division race would not be out of the question and in many ways, it is probably what both teams are expecting anyway.
And if that all comes to fruition, that means the six games book-ending the month of September will be incredibly important for both teams. Luckily enough for the Phillies, they aren’t the only ones with a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates in September.
In fact, Philadelphia and Atlanta’s September schedules are relatively similar. The one main difference? The Braves have six against the Washington Nationals and the Phillies only have three. But it all evens out because the other teams cancel each other out, so essentially both schedules are even.
This helps the Phillies in a race against the Braves of course, but lets just say that the team is contending for a Wild Card spot. Based off of this year’s results, that would mean the Phillies would be competing with the top-NL Central teams. Unfortunately, the Phillies have just that one series against the Pirates.
Their September schedule is clogged with NL East matchups with just the four against the Pirates, four against the Padres and three against the Oakland Athletics. The remaining 15 games are all within the division.
Regardless of a playoff race, however, the Phillies will be tested in September and can only hope that they regain the magic they have had in this month in years’ past.