(Photo credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
The Philadelphia Phillies can't change their playoff seeding this weekend.
Good thing, since Mother Nature may do her best to keep the Phillies from playing at least one of their last three games.
Weather permitting, the Phillies will continue tuning up for the playoffs on Friday when they visit the New York Mets in the opener of the final regular-season series for both teams.
Taijuan Walker (15-5, 4.35 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Phillies against fellow right-hander Tylor Megill (8-8, 4.92 ERA), though several inches of rain are expected to fall in the New York area throughout Friday and into Saturday.
The Phillies clinched the top wild card in the National League before taking the field on Thursday for a game they lost 3-2 to the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. The host Mets had their game against Miami suspended due to torrential rains in the top of the ninth inning just after the Marlins scored twice to take a 2-1 lead.
The remainder of the regular season officially became meaningless for the Phillies (89-70) when the Arizona Diamondbacks fell to the Chicago White Sox 3-1 earlier on Thursday. Philadelphia could host the Diamondbacks (84-75) -- who lead the race for the second NL wild card by 1 1/2 games over the Marlins (82-76) -- in a best-of-three wild-card series next week.
With the playoffs in mind, Phillies manager Rob Thomson said left-hander Cristopher Sanchez would relieve Walker to prepare for a potential postseason bullpen role. Sanchez struck out 26 batters while walking just four over 23 1/3 innings in four starts this month.
Sanchez (3-5, 3.48) has made 18 starts and no relief appearances this season, but he appeared in relief in 18 of his first 22 major league outings in 2021 and 2022.
"It's just a matter of coming into the middle of a game as opposed to starting a game," Thomson said. "It's just getting used to that. He should be good and that's one of the reasons why we're doing it. It's not two hours of getting ready -- long-tossing and all that. But it will come back pretty quick."
Walker and Megill are slated to oppose each other for the second straight start. Neither pitcher factored into the decision on Sept. 22, when Walker gave up two runs over six innings and Megill surrendered three runs in six innings in the Phillies' 5-4, 10-inning win.
Walker, who spent the previous two seasons with the Mets before signing a four-year, $72 million deal with the Phillies last December, is 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA in five career starts against New York. He is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three outings vs. the Mets this year.
Megill is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts against the Phillies. He was the winning pitcher on April 29, 2022, when he threw the first five innings of a combined no-hitter in New York's 3-0 victory over Philadelphia.
The earlier-than-anticipated arrival of the torrential rains means the Mets (72-86) might have to come back home on Monday to play the final outs of their disappointing season.
Rain was expected to begin late Thursday night, but a downpour forced the umpires to call the teams off the field at 9:41 p.m. EDT. The game was finally suspended at 12:58 a.m.
Miami general manager Kim Ng said the game would resume on Monday -- the day before the playoffs are scheduled to begin -- if the Marlins need to win to create a tie with the Chicago Cubs (82-77) for the third NL wild card. Miami, which is a half-game ahead of the Cubs, has the tiebreaker by virtue of a 4-2 win in the season series.
"It's what we do for a living -- we play games," Mets manager Buck Showalter said following the suspension. "If that means play another game, we'll play."
--Field Level Media