I don’t know about you, but I just have the feeling that the Phillies are headed to the postseason. Normally, I don’t tend toward such blatant optimism, but this team has “the look.” Here are the reasons I think they’ll make the playoffs.
Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have been smoking hot this September. If Jimmy sets the table, and Howard keeps clearing it, this lineup is soooo dangerous. Ryan Howard has the look of a guy that can carry his team into the postseason, and the look of a guy who is going to finish his season very close to 50 homers and 150 RBI’s
Brett Myers has been absolutely dominant. He is their stopper. It hasn’t been Hamels, though Cole is always capable of shutting the opponent down. But Myers, suddenly, is the ace of this staff, and unless he randomly melts down, should continue to be a force.
The lineup seems to have found a flow. Rollins-Utley-Werth-Howard-Burrell-Victorino-Feliz-Ruiz/Coste-Pitcher. This lineup seems to work for the Phils. I don’t understand how, after a season of tinkering, the Phillies ended up with this particular lineup, but they’ve been winning with it, so why change now?
Brad Lidge. Honestly, need I say more? He has been, consistently, the most valuable of the Phillies over the course of the entire season. Do I worry that he may blow a save late, and suddenly become the ghost of Brad Lidge in Houston, post Pujols? Yeah, a bit, but anytime you watch a man make Chipper Jones swing as silly at a slider as he did tonight, your confidence in the guy increases.
J.C. Romero. Huh? Romero? Remember how clutch he was last year? How he almost always came in and shut down the opposition in September? He’s only pitched 55.1 innings this year, so he should be fairly fresh, and he’s got the stuff to pitch to both righties and lefties. The back end of the Phils bullpen should be rock solid.
The Mets and Brewers. The likelihood of one of these teams choking, if not both, is almost certain. The Mets not only have to have last year in the back of their mind, they’ve also got four against the Cubs. And the Brewers – I don’t think they’ll ever recover from the sweep against the Phillies. That was a statement. (Editor’s note: “Hey Brewers, could you quiet down? Yeah, the grown teams are talking”)
They always believed. All season long, we heard them saying it: “We’re going to hit.” Well, they’re hitting. But the point here isn’t the fact that they believed they would hit – this team has always believed it would win. They didn’t panic; they didn’t start worrying and losing belief in themselves. Their play-it-cool approach is sometimes frustrating, especially to the passion junkies that are Philly fans, but Charlie Manuel has got these guys playing with something that is absolutely priceless in baseball – an unwavering, cool confidence. They’ve done this before; they’ll do it again.