September 30, 2022

How the new postseason tiebreaker format gives the Philadelphia Phillies a big advantage

While the regular season is still far from over, the National League playoff draw is largely complete. The Mets, Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals are almost certain to earn a playoff spot, and the Phillies, Padres and Brewers are battling for the final two spots.

For Philadelphia to make the playoffs, they just have to outplay one of those two teams. And fortunately, they already have a pretty big advantage over the competition: the tiebreaker.

When Major League Baseball introduced third-place Wild Card before the 2022 season, the league eliminated its one-game tiebreaker format.

With more postseason games to play, there’s no time to allow for tiebreaker contests. Instead, if there is any sort of tie after 162 games, it will be resolved using the teams’ head-to-head records against each other.

The Phillies have already finished their season streak against the Padres and Brewers, and they’ve come out on top in each of them. They have the best head-to-head record against their two closest Wild Card competitors.

Philadelphia lost two games to Milwaukee in mid-April but swept the Brewers six weeks later in a three-game set at American Family Field. They won the season series four games to two.

Likewise, they hosted the Padres at Citizens Bank Park in May and lost two of three. When the Phillies traveled to San Diego the following month, however, they won three of four games, bringing the season series four games to three.

That means Philadelphia, essentially, has a one-game cushion in the Wild Card race. In the event of a tie for third place Wild Card, they would automatically receive a playoff berth.

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In any previous year, the Phillies would have had to play a one-game winner-take-all playoff to have a chance in October baseball. They would have to burn their best available starting pitcher and the team would also lose a day off.

So the new tiebreaker format could work well for Philadelphia. In case of a tie, they will walk directly into the playoffs.

The Phillies celebrate a series sweep of the Brewers on June 9.

The Phillies celebrate a series sweep of the Brewers on June 9.

Major League Baseball has a long season. With so many games to play, it often feels like every individual game doesn’t matter that much, especially those in the early months of the season.

This year, though, those seven games in mid-June in which Philadelphia won the season series against San Diego and Milwaukee could turn out to be very meaningful after all.

The Phillies have already won the tiebreaker against their two biggest threats. It’s a big problem. That gives them a huge advantage, and it could very well be the difference between another disappointing season for Philadelphia and their first playoff appearance in over a decade.

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