2008/09/30

Phillies Postseason Preview: Better Than Last Year?


When the Phillies clinched the NL East on the final day of the season last year, pandemonium was unleashed. The champagne flowed like Niagara Falls on a warm summer day. And deservedly so. It had been 14 years since Philly fans could cheer for October baseball. But the celebration was short lived. Four days after the postseason began, the Phils returned from Colorado the victims of a sweep.

But this year will be different. This team is better and more prepared to play in the fall chill. Let me explain:

Last year, the team—and the city for that matter—was just happy with getting to the postseason. A playoff berth was a win unto itself. So let’s chalk up last year as a learning experience. They got their first nibble, liked what they tasted, and now they’re back for a full meal.

The Phillies had the luxury of not playing catch-up the entire month of September this year. Coming back from 7 ½ games with 17 games to play took its toll on the 2007 club. No such hole this year. They even took a rest on the season’s last game. It gave them a chance to realize what they accomplished, celebrate and then get back to work.

The starting pitching is much better than it was a season ago. Cole Hamels’ durability issues were put to rest when the lanky lefty led the league in innings pitched. The Phils ace will start game 1 with a full week’s rest. Brett Myers, we hope, has gotten his bad starts behind him. And Jamie Moyer is the epitome of consistent.

The bullpen is experienced and ready to go. Brad Lidge anchors a bullpen who has been the anchor of this team all year. Even Ryan Madson seems ready to pitch in the postseason. JC Romero, Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre are all reliable arms with playoff experience.

And then there’s Ryan Howard. The big first baseman is hitting the ball better than he ever has in his short career. His 11 bombs and 32 RBI earned him player of the month honors, and put the slugger in the perfect mindset.

The keys to this series will be winning game 1, especially since Sabathia lined up to pitch game 2. Basically with Sabathia scheduled to probably pitch games 2 and 5, the Phillies need to at least win every game in which Sabathia does not pitch. Brett Myers will be a key, and hopefully can pitch well enough to steal a game away from Sabathia in Game 2. Rollins, Utley, and Howard will obviously need to hit, unlike last postseason, and the bullpen will need to continue to be strong and keep the Phillies in games.

Position for position (CC Sabathia notwithstanding) the Phillies have the edge in every match-up. From starting rotation to the bench, the advantage goes to Philly. This isn’t the Rockies who came into the postseason on a miracle run a year ago. This is the Brewers. They’re the Phillies of last year. They’re just happy to be there. And hopefully, like the Phillies, they’ll be swept.

4 comments:

Eleanor the Dog said...

The Phils should take care of the brew-crew. Even if Sabathia wins 2 (which I do not think will happen, because he has pitched too much recently) we should win the other 3. I am looking for Cole and Chase to step up this series.

GM-Carson said...

We should swap links. Shoot us an email if interested.

Kevin McGuire said...

Nice article. Glad I found it. I'll check back in as the series gets underway!

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