The Philadelphia Phillies became the 12th and final team to clinch a postseason berth on Monday, punching their ticket with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros. The Phillies will advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. That season happened to represent the final year of a stretch that saw them appear in five consecutive playoffs.
In the clinching win, the Phillies got a pair of home runs from Kyle Schwarber, who now has 46 on the season, and right-hander Aaron Nola took a perfect game into the seventh inning. Zach Eflin worked a perfect ninth for his first career save.
It's fair to write that the Phillies took an unusual route to this point. They started the season poorly under former manager Joe Girardi's watch, racing out to a 22-29 start before Girardi was fired. Interim skipper Rob Thomson has since guided the Phillies to a 65-44 record. That would prorate to 97 wins over a full season.
The Phillies' chances appeared to take a major blow when star Bryce Harper was sidelined for two months by an injury. Yet their supporting cast proved good enough to keep them afloat. Indeed, Philadelphia can credit Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins, among others, for leading the charge. On the pitching side of things, the Phillies have a strong four-pitcher staff consisting of proven veterans like Nola and Zack Wheeler, along with youngsters Ranger Suárez and Bailey Falter.
The Phillies had been jockeying alongside the Brewers after a rough September that saw them go 11-14. That putrid month included two separate five-game losing streaks that were separated only by a three-game winning streak. In other words, the Phillies lost 10 of 13 games from Sept. 15-29.
The rest of the National League playoff field will feature the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Diego Padres. The Phillies' win on Monday meant that the Brewers were eliminated despite their win in extras over the Arizona Diamondbacks. That ends a streak of four straight postseason appearances for Milwaukee.