The Philadelphia Phillies' fight for a playoff spot is over. Saturday's 5-3 loss over the Atlanta Braves was all Atlanta needed to clinch the NL East crown for the first time since their 2013. The Phillies weren't mathematically eliminated from the wild card going into today, but it's a foregone conclusion: they would have to win out and have all four teams ahead of them lose out to gain a place.
It's a tough pill to swallow for a team that had been in first place as late as August 12, but a terrible run in the final two months of the season sealed their fate.
But even though they missed the playoffs, the fact remains that the Phillies had a successful season. They were marked down as a dark-horse NL Wild Card candidate to begin the year. After the first week of the season, some people reconsidered that prediction after a series of blunders by rookie manager Gabe Kapler, culminating in the infamous summoning of reliever Hoby Milner from the bullpen—but forgetting to tell him to warm up.
But the Phillies shook those gaffes off and went on a surprising run that shows that the development of this team is ahead of schedule. People thought they might be in on a wild card berth—no one expected them to lead the NL East for more than a month.
This team is only a few pieces away from truly reasserting itself as a perennial contender. How can they do that? Let's look at a few things that could make the Phillies a playoff team in 2019.