The Phillies are making their first back to back playoff appearances since 1977 and 1978. The Phightens ended a 3 year streak in '79 of playoff berths and we all know what happen in 1980. However in '77 and '78, the Phils were defeated by the Dodgers in the NLCS. This year, the Phils face the Brewers in the first round, and could very well face LA once again pending a huge upset over the Cubbies. However, the Phils are looking forward to having no team stand in their way of a WS title, and ending the curse of William Penn. But do they have what it takes this year? Will the pitching hold and the bullpen be as dominant? and finally, how hot can Howard and this powerful offense stay? Only time can answer these questions, and the answer better be the same throughout the month of October; YES! However, let us worry about one series at a time.
On Wednesday, the Brew Crew comes into town for the NLDS. Game 1 starter is set for Cole Hamels, and Brett Myers will probably and should follow suit. Myers has turned his season around since the All-Star and his curveball is nastier then ever. Jamie Moyer will look to start Game 3; love the experience of the 45 year old south paw. Being on the road, experience is needed from your starter and Jamie is the one to turn to for that. Their counterparts luckily will not send stud C.C. Sabathia to the mound until at least Game 2. He has pitched on 3 days rest in his last 3 starts, and I cannot imagine that would choose to pitch on 2 days rest to pitch in Game 1. Sabathia improved to 11-2 on Sunday, with an outstanding sub 2.00 ERA. Being that he will probably will not open the series, the Phils can take advantage and get an early 1-0 lead on the Brewers. However, even if CC does pitch, the Phils can jump over his tired arm. But if he doesn't pitch, then who gets the starting nod? Ben Sheets returned from an injury on Saturday and pitched well, but I'm not too sure if he will be the choice. However, after the Phils September sweep against the Brewers, it does not really matter who this line-up faces, because they have beaten them before. It's hard to imagine that the Brewers starters will prove to be more reliable then the Phightens. When it comes to the agreement of bullpens, I have to put the Phils in front by far. The Phils bullpen has been solid all year, leading the league in team ERA; not to mention our closer is a perfect 41-41 in saves. The Brewers pitching staff had a very poor September and injuries have hurt them. Although Sheets is normally dominant, I'm not sold that he is at 100%. The Phils have a much more settled staff and has not been effected by injuries. The starters have been solid through September and look to remain that way.
Both lineups are built around a core group of young players, and power first basemen. However, coming off a September with numbers no baseball book or statistic sheet could show you, Ryan Howard leads a much more potent offense. The Phils have been extremely hot recently, and everyone has been hitting well. Let us all hope that their bats do not go silent like they did against the Rockies last season. The Brewers have not been in the playoffs since 1982, and hopefully the Phils can send them home early. With the inconsistancy of the Brewers starters, the Phils offense should stay hot and advance themselves into the NLCS.
The Phils are too good and face a much cooler team then they did last year. This year, the Phils are the hot team and are seeking revenge. I believe they will be successful in doing so against the Brewers, and we shall take it one series at a time. Lets go Phils, and check back for a recap of Game 1 on Wednesday night.