THE 3RD WILD CARD SPOT HAS MADE THE PHILS SEASON DRAMATIC!

By Sam Bush

Jayson Stark used to write for the Inky, and he now cover the major leagues for The Athletic:

The Phillies, Blue Jays and Rays were all buyers.

They, too, were looking at double-digit mountains to climb in their division.

But with three wild-card spots available in each league, that was all the motivation they needed to say: If we can just get in, anything can happen.

The best-of-three first round changed teams’ thinking. The old one-and-done wild-card game made for epic baseball theater. What it didn’t make for was epic deadline theater.

We had a decade’s worth of evidence that modern front offices now think so scientifically, they had long ago made the calculation that it was almost never worth paying those steep deadline prices — not if all you got out of it was a one-game coin flip to decide the fate of your whole season.

But now that those wild cards get to play a best-of-three series, the thinking of many teams has clearly changed. The Phillies (Noah Syndergaard) and Cardinals (Jordan Montgomery, José Quintana) are just two of the clubs that traded for back-of-the-rotation starters who, potentially, could pitch one of those three games.

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