What does an 0-4 start mean historically for the Phillies?

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The Phillies are scuffling and everyone is sad. They whiffed on the season-opening series vs. the Rangers in three different ways: a blown lead, a blowout, and a tantalizingly-close loss. Then on Monday they got smoked by the Yankees in the Bronx.

Now they head into Game 5 of 162, carrying an 0-4 record for the first time since 2016 and the third time this century.

Even some of the Phillies' worst teams ever have avoided starting a season with four straight losses. The 111-loss team in 1941 beat the Boston Braves to win their season opener. (Shoutout to Cy Blanton for that complete-game win.)

MORE: Phillies swept by Rangers to open season of enormous expectations

After the season-opening sweep, I started wondering: how many times have the Phillies started 0-3? And what became of those seasons?

Turns out, this is the 15th time since 1900 that the Phillies have started a season 0-3. Here's a brief rundown of each instance with their final record, their place in the standings, and their final postseason result:

  • 1909: 0-3, finished 74-79-1 | 5th in NL
  • 1934: 0-7, finished 56-93 | 7th in NL
  • 1942: 0-4, finished 42-109 | 8th in NL
  • 1946: 0-4, finished 69-85-1 | 5th in NL
  • 1969: 0-4, finished 63-99 | 5th in NL East
  • 1977: 0-4, finished 101-61 | 1st in NL East (lost NLCS to Dodgers)
  • 1982: 0-3, finished 89-73 | 2nd in NL East
  • 1983: 0-3, finished 90-72 | 1st in NL East (lost World Series to Orioles)
  • 1985: 0-3, finished 75-87 | 5th in NL East
  • 1987: 0-4, finished 80-82 | 4th in NL East
  • 2000: 0-3, finished 65-97 | 5th in NL East
  • 2006: 0-4, finished 85-77 | 2nd in NL East
  • 2007: 0-3, finished 89-73 | 1st in NL East (lost NLDS to Rockies)
  • 2016: 0-4, finished 71-91 | 4th in NL East
  • 2023: 0-4, so far!

Early on, a slow start was basically a death knell. But beginning in the 1970s it became less a harbinger of certain doom. Shoot, they made the dang World Series in 1983 after an 0-3 start.

On the whole, these seasons tally up to a .471 winning percentage, which would work out to a 76-86 record across a full season. That's obviously not a playoff record. But in those 14 previous instances the Phillies finished with five winning records, three playoff appearances, and one World Series. Not great, but not impossible.

What about 0-4? This is the franchise's ninth 0-4 start in the last 124 years. The previous eight seasons tally up to a .448 winning percentage, which would work out to a 73-89 record across a full season. In those eight previous instances the Phillies finished with two winning records and one playoff appearance. Again: not great, but not impossible.

So, are they doomed? Nah, probably not. But historically they're certainly facing an uphill battle. Here's hoping the 2023 Phillies are channeling the 1977 squad more than the 2000 squad. 

If they lose again Tuesday night, they'll reach a far worse level of ignominy: the only time the Phillies have lost more than four straight games to start the season was 1934, when they began 0-7 and finished with 93 losses in a 149-game season. Watch out.

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