While you were glued to the Phillies yesterday, Carson Wentz returned to the Eagles and led the team … wait, you saw that?
The Phillies did play yesterday, as their first meaningless game of the season went up against Wentz' return. It's safe to assume what the city was watching. Eliminated from the playoff hunt, the Phillies will try to salvage their season by finishing with a winning record. They have to win four of their final seven games to do that. It could be tough.
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— Matt Breen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A lot of time will be spent over the next seven days debating if this ill-fated Phillies season was a success or failure. They collapsed in September and failed to make the playoffs despite having the second-best record in the National League in early August. That sure felt like a failure.
But think back to how you felt about this team when it reported to spring training, before it signed Jake Arrieta, and before Gabe Kapler kept talking about playing into October. I for sure wasn't thinking about the playoffs. Sure, those expectations changed over the summer as the Phillies spent time in first place. And that is what made the final month so deflating.
But when I think back to February, I charted a successful season for the Phillies to be one that made them attractive to the free-agent superstars who will hit the market this offseason. The Phillies have all the money they need to throw at Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and whomever else they want. But so do other teams. When the Phillies signed Jim Thome in 2003, he chose their big-money offer after seeing the emerging players here. I thought that's what 2018 was about: showing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado that they can win here, not just get paid here.
The Phillies, despite a poor finish, showed that they can contend. A free agent will sign here this winter with the belief of playing into October. The season's expectations changed as the season went on, which makes it easy to say that this season was a failure. But it was not a total wash.
Aaron Nola logged his 200th inning of the season, but that was cause for little celebration as the Phillies lost yet again to complete a four-game sweep in Atlanta. The Phillies had to win two of four this weekend to keep their season alive. They instead won none of four and will play out the last seven games before heading into the offseason.
Scott Kingery will get the chance to play more often in the final week now that the Phillies are eliminated from the postseason race. He took advantage of his chance Sunday with two hits, including his first homer since Aug. 24. "The whole season has been ups and downs, and to be able to go out and do that today and hopefully ride that into the next seven games, it'll be good," Kingery said.
And in case you missed it, the Braves clinched the division title Saturday after Jake Arrieta lasted just two innings. The Phillies big free-agent signing laid a dud with the season on the line. Arrieta has a 6.64 ERA in his last eight starts. "Individually, the last month or so I haven't been very good," he said.
Tonight: Zach Eflin opens four-game series in Colorado, 8:40 p.m.
Tomorrow: Vince Velasquez starts for the Phils, 8:40 p.m.
Wednesday: Nick Pivetta makes his last scheduled start, 8:40 p.m.
Thursday: Jake Arrieta ends his season, 3:40 p.m.
Friday: Phillies open season-ending series at home vs. Atlanta, 7:05 p.m.
The Phillies' loss Sunday dropped their record this month to 6-15. With their .286 winning percentage in September, they are on pace for the team's worst finish to a season since the 1942 Phillies went 6-21 in September. The 1942 team was missing players who were drafted to fight in World War II. It had an excuse for its brutal month. Even the 1964 Phillies (.424 winning percentage in September) had a better finish than the 2018 Phillies.
Question: Love this newsletter. Will it continue in the offseason? Now that the Phils are done, don't you think the Phils front office should give Dylan Cozens a shot at playing the rest of the season just to see what he's got? Also, I think the club should be looking for a quality starting pitcher or two because the back three have really done nothing in the last few years. – email question, Ron P.
Answer: Thanks, Ron! We're still figuring out an offseason plan for Extra Innings. We should have more information later in the week. Of course, our coverage at philly.com/phillies will go throughout the winter.