Tuesday, August 14, 2007
2007: 62-55 (1.0 games out of wildcard)
2006: 57-60 (3.5 games out of wildcard)
The ’07 team is a lot stronger and deeper than the ’06 team was – how else could they have absorbed so many injuries and still be in the thick of the playoff race?
So the path ahead looks like … Tonight, the Phillies open up a three-game series with the Washington Nationals in D.C. The Phillies send new hurler Kyle Lohse to the mound to battle Shawn Hill, the Nats starter who is slated to return after a shoulder strain sidelined him in early May. On paper the Nats look like easy prey, but looks can be deceiving. Remember that the Nationals fatally torpedoed the Phillies playoff chances last season when they took two of three from the Phillies in the second-to-last series of the season.
After that the Phillies move on to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates. I’ll be at the game on Sunday when Lohse takes the mound again to face-off with Shane Youman. The hapless Pirates are another seemingly great match-up for the Phillies to exploit. The Pirates have the worst record in the N.L. and seem destined to remain a bottom-feeder in the playoff picture. Is a three-game sweep a possibility? Sure. Anything less than a 2-1 split for the Phillies would be a major disappointment.
After that, the Phillies enter a stretch where they’ll play 16 games in 16 days. This will be vital to the Phillies playoff chances. Here is who the Phillies play and their record:
August 21-23: Dodgers (.513)
August 24-26: Padres (.538)
August 27-30: Mets (.556)
Aug. 31 – Sept. 2: Marlins (.466)
September 3-5: Braves (.525)
Aside from the Marlins, not a single game with a team that has a losing record. Very problematic to me is the fact that the Phillies are going to have to deal with the Dodgers and Padres, teams with excellent pitching staffs, at the start of the stretch. Will the experience of facing-off with Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Jake Peavy and the rest of the West Coast aces hurt the Phillies going into their series with the Mets?
On the plus side, the first ten games in the stretch (Dodgers, Padres and Mets) are at home.
After that the Phillies get more games with the Marlins, Nats, Mets and Braves.
Impressions: sadly the Phillies are finished, after they play the Pirates, with N.L. Central creampuffs. The Phillies are 22-13 against the Central in 2007, but 10-14 and 22-21 against the West and East respectively. Again, the Phillies atruggles against the N.L. West are a big reason why the games between August 21 & 26 are so crucial. They are playing well wildcard competitors in the Padres and Dodgers and they are matching up with teams that are pitching-heavy. Those games against the Padres and Dodgers could fatally torpedo the Phillies, or propel them into the post-season. We shall see.
Its incredably likely that the bullpen can't keep up its recent flash of brilliance, but we can only hope. And we also have to hope that Victorino and Utley pick up right where they left off when the both return from the DL. That should also spark Howard. And then hoping Burrel and Rowand continue they're hot streak, we're set.
Thats a lot of hoping... but isn't that what being a Phillies Phan is all about?