The Philadelphia Phillies are winners of 9 of their last 10 games and poised to make a run at their third consecutive NL pennant.
Looking at their roster, it's no surprise that they are in this position. The collection of talent they've assembled boasts an offensive roster that you would expect to see toeing the batter's box in the AL East and a starting pitching staff led by arguably the best post season starting staff in baseball, Roy Halladay (2.493 ERA) and Roy Oswalt (2.899 ERA) followed by Cole Hamels who has bounced back to his World Series MVP form with an ERA this year of 3.005, a WHIP of 1.161 and 201 K's in less than 195 innings.
One could make an argument that if Brad Lidge has truly found his slider and they could enter the playoffs healthy, the Phillies have the best chance of winning the 2011 World Series. Why? The Phillies roster, top to bottom, is better than any of the other post season contenders, including the Yankees. With the Phillies top three starting pitchers (and that's all they will need) there is no one else that can both hit like an AL Team and pitch like an NL team.
Yesterday, Jayson Werth followed Ryan Howard's two-run single in the ninth inning with a winning two-run homer that lifted the Phillies over the Washington Nationals 7-6 for their seventh straight win.
With the win, the Phillies maintained a three-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and improved to 28 games over .500 for the first time since 1993. Philadelphia can now help its chances for a fourth consecutive division title beginning Monday night, when the Braves come to town for a three-game series. The Phillies will send send Cole Hamels to the mound in the opener followed by Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. The big three are a combined 10-0 with a 2.21 ERA with 71 strikeouts in September.
Getting to this point hasn't been easy. The Phillies have had 18 players on the disabled list, two of whom landed there twice. And we aren't talking about long relievers, bench players and fourth outfielders with run-of-the-mill, 15-day stints.
Every starting fielder, except two, has been out hurt. Ten pitchers have been on the DL, including seven relievers.
Jimmy Rollins, the team's longest tenured player and unofficial captain, has missed almost as many games as he's played in. In fact, Rollins, while not currently on the DL now, might as well be because he has not played since Sept. 8 with a hamstring pull.
Set up man (and alternate closer) Ryan Madson, one of the club's steadiest relievers, was out more than two months.
J.A. Happ (now with the Astros), who was supposed to be coming in as one of the Phillies' prized possessions, made just two starts in April before missing the next three-plus months before being traded on July 29.
Yet, here we are, with 13 games to play and the Phillies sit three games up in the NL East. One has to wonder how good the Phillies would have been this year had they been healthy. As it is, there is a chance that they may end up with MLB's best record. The Phillies currently stand at 89-61 and the Yankees have the best record at 90-59.
The stars are aligned for a World Series rematch and why not. This time, with the Phillies with more than just one effective starter, things may turn out differently. That's the way I'm betting. - Robert Fairchild
Robert is a professional sports gaming professional. He legally wages on professional and collegiate sporting events for a living. Robert is NOT suggesting that you quit your day job and try to wager on sports for a living. He is contributing his thoughts and experience to assist you in a recreational activity that you as an informed adult may choose to take part in.
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