Harper and the Phillies
The NL East is the most competitive division in the National League.

The Braves lead the way with 87 wins. The Washington Nationals are in second-place with 78 wins. The Phils are in third, with 72 wins, followed by the Mets, who are making a run for the middle of the division with 71 wins. The Marlins are toasted, so far, losing 89 games this season.

The best sportsbooks online have the Philadelphia Phillies at 60-1 to win-out in October. These odds are a bit strange since the Mets are only 50-1, and are still a game behind.

So if the Phils are sitting in third place in the NL East, what is their outlook for the postseason?

According to TeamRankings, the Philadelphia Phillies have a 7.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Phils are just seven games behind the Nationals. If they catch Washington, it would almost guarantee them a wildcard spot. But even more likely, is the fact that they are just 4 games behind the Chicago Cubs.

It happened back in 2015. Remember? Both wildcard spots came from the National League Central. The only other third-place team that has 70 wins is the Milwaukee Brewers. So the third-place teams are just as much in the hunt as the second-place teams – with the exception of the Washington Nationals who have the best second-place record so far.

The Phillies just need to catch the Cubs and fend off the Diamondbacks and Mets. Arizona is sitting at 73 wins, but they've played one game more than the Phils, so Philadelphia is slightly ahead in that race and is gunning for the Cubbies. But can they get it done?

It won’t be easy. The Phillies had the 11th most difficult schedule in the league. However, the Cubs are right there with them at No. 12. It will be a bit harder to catch the Nationals because they already have a seven-game lead. That said, the Nationals had the 6th easiest schedule in the league, but now face the 5th hardest through September. The Phillies face the third most difficult, but they’ve faced a tough schedule all season, while the Nationals have had a cakewalk schedule. So, the boys from Washington may be in for a bit of a stumble. The Cubs have it fairly easy in September, pushing 18th most difficult/ 12th easiest.

The Phils are coming off a frustrating series in Cincinnati and after this weekend's set in Flushing with the Mets they'll host the division-leading Braves for a four-game stretch. Then they get a day off before hosting the Boston Red Sox in inter-league play. The Sox are sitting 75 wins – at the time of writing– and in the middle of the AL East. After the Sox, the Phils get Atlanta again. For another three. This will bring them into the final third of September and hopefully they can win enough games to stay ahead of the Cubs and snag that other wildcard spot to face the Nationals in an all AL East wildcard round.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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