August 31, 2010
Flying the Fightins' flag on the Stew today is Pat Gallen of Phillies Nation. He has come up with a few reasons why the Phillies will see their fourth straight postseason.
Funny, it used be "offense, offense, offense" with the Philadelphia Phillies, but the tides have now changed.
Hell, it's the year of the pitcher anyway, so they've decided to get on board.
The Phillies haven't done things the conventional way this year, and catching the Braves is no doubt a tough task. But, whether it be the wild card or division title (Charlie Manuel doesn't want to talk about the wild card!) here are a few reasons why you'll see the Phils in the postseason come October.
The Three Wisemen of the Rotation: Roy Halladay. Cole Hamels(notes). Roy Oswalt(notes). H2O is what the kids call ‘em. Can you beat that? Prove it. Philly's top three are arguably the best in all of baseball, boasting a former Cy Young winner (Halladay) chomping at the bit to play meaningful fall baseball, a former World Series/NLCS MVP (Hamels) who has the necessary experience, and a former NLCS MVP (Oswalt) enjoying a rejuvenation in a new town.
Manuel is going to ride these ponies and with a resurgent Joe Blanton(notes) and a respectable fifth starter in Kyle Kendrick(notes), he'll be able to lean on this staff to get them through their struggles on offense and into the top four of the National League.
Indeed, the Phillies starters have a NL-best 1.21 WHIP and also lead the league in complete games, K/BB ratio, and opponents' on-base percentage.
Been There, Done That: In 2007, the Phillies fought tooth and nail until the final day of the season and made the playoffs. In 2008, they rode past the Mets in the latter stages of the season and blew through the playoffs for their first World Series title in 28 years. In 2009, another National League Championship banner was raised.
This club understands what it takes to reach the postseason and what it takes to become a winner when the check comes due. With their backs against the wall, this crew consisting of Howard, Utley, Rollins and Werth seem to play their best baseball. September is on the doorstep, a month in which the Phils have done some damage.
In each of the past three seasons, the Phils have won 17 games in September. Offensively, there is hope. Ryan Howard(notes) is a career .314 hitter in the final month, mashing a total of 52 home runs with 141 RBIs in 162 games. Halladay follows suit to end the year; his career ERA is 3.32, but in September that drops nearly a full run to 2.36.
LOUD NOISES!: If you've ever been to a game at Citizens Bank Park, you know it's filled with 45,000 diehards every night. The decibel level can reach jet-fighter status at any moment. They smell fear — how are you, Jonathan Broxton(notes)? — and strike fear into the hearts of many. Phillies fans truly give the team a home-field advantage.
By the way, whatever happened to the Tomahawk Chop? It's hard to hear it when only a few hundred Braves fans are showing up to Turner Field during a pennant race.
Can't Get Any Worse: As you may have witnessed on Monday night, the Phillies' bats aren't exactly clicking on all cylinders. For this crew, one that led the NL in runs scored in three of the last four seasons, it may have just touched rock bottom.
So, the law of averages says the Phillies are just about due for some sort of extended period of better baseball ... right? (Right!?) Thankfully, they are finally completely healthy after being ravaged by injuries most of the season and still have the same team that got them to two straight World Series.
So, they may sit three games back in the NL East heading into Tuesday night's games, yet they currently hold on to the Wild Card lead with what many Phillies fans would say is their worst showing since before their playoff run started. September is when they enjoy causing damage, so fear not fans of the red pinstripes — the time will come for playoff baseball in Philly yet again.
Pat Gallen is an anchor and Phillies reporter for 97.3 ESPN FM in South Jersey. He's also the Senior Writer at PhilliesNation.com