The NL playoff picture is shaping up, and I wanted to take a look at what the Phillies should expect in October.... if they were to get to the playoffs. In the division, the Phillies are 7.5 up on the Braves, and 9.5 up on the Marlins. Ohh yeah, and they are 18.5 up on the pathetic Mets, and that is still hilarious.
In terms of the National League, the Phillies currently sit 1 game behind the Dodgers, and in a tie for 2nd place overall with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Rockies are back to leading the wild card, and are up 1 game on the Giants in the wild card, thanks to the Phillies win last night. If the wild card winner comes from the NL West, which would be either the Rockies or Giants, the Phillies cannot possibly play the Cardinals in the first round. This is probably a good thing, as the Cardinals have been playing great baseball as of late. The reason they could not play in the first round is because no two teams from the same division are allowed by rule to play each other in the first round of the playoffs. This would exclude the Dodgers from playing either the Rockies or Giants in the first round of the playoffs. It also means that whoever finishes ahead in the league between the Phillies and Cardinals would end up playing the wild card winner. Again, that is all assuming the Rockies or Giants win the wild card. If the Braves or Marlins go on a run and take the wild card, the Phillies would not be able to play either of those teams in the first round.
Personally, I want to avoid playing the Cardinals or Giants, especially in a best of 5 series. I feel like the underdog has a better chance the shorter the series is, and a 5 game series with the Phillies and Giants might cause some problems for the Phillies. Often times the team who gets the best pitching in the playoffs wins the series - this is especially true in a shorter 5 game series. The Giants feature a great pitching staff which includes two of the best in the league, Lincecum, and Cain. Also, Barry Zito had under a 2 ERA since the all-star break, and Jonathan Sanchez seems to own the Phillies. The Giants offense is fairly pathetic, but they are still a scary team to play.
As I stated earlier, the Cardinals are another scary team, no matter where you play them in the playoffs. Their pitching is very underrated, and they throw 3 quality starters out there in Carpenter, Wainwright, and Pineiro. Also, their offense is really starting to click since the addition of Matt Holliday. We all know about Albert Pujols, and now the Cardinals have some pieces in the lineup around him to beat teams. The Cardinals are playing very good baseball right now, and are clicking on all cylinders.
If at all possible, I would like to play the Rockies in the first round. The Rockies have a couple good sinker ball pitchers, but the Phillies pitching staff is better. The Rockies also feature a solid offense, but they do not have the offense the Phillies have - no team in the NL does.
The Dodgers are the team that really no one is talking about right now. The Dodgers have basically been in 1st place in the NL for the entire season, but have been struggling as of late, and coming back to the pack. The Dodgers are still a scary team, as they also have a very good hitting lineup, and when their pitching in on, they are a tough team to beat.
Bottom line, I think the Phillies are the best team in the National League. We can definitely beat any team in the National League, and if we get good pitching, I think we will. Essentially, I shouldn't worry about where the Phillies end up, I should just hope they make the playoffs and go from there. Also, I should be confident that the Phillies can beat any team in any round in the playoffs. I would like to get into 1st place in the NL, to lock up home field in the NL. The Phillies have actually been better on the road than at home this year, but you still want to play at home in the playoffs as much as possible. The Phillies went 9-0 in the playoffs at home last year, and have a tremendous home field advantage. It is a hitters ballpark, we are a hitting team, and other teams can often struggle here. Ohh, and we are the best fans in baseball. But first things first, we have to clinch our third straight NL East.