The Phillies have won ten in a row. Fourteen of their last 15. Twenty-two of 26. It’s getting a bit difficult to find appropriate superlatives, so let’s just throw out some stuff and try to grok how great things are going for this team at the moment:
- The Phillies used only two relievers — Madson and Lidge — in their three games against the Braves, for a total of five innings.
- Roy Oswalt, who turned in the best performance of all of the big three in the series, has allowed one run in his last 22 innings. In 11 starts since the trade which brought him over, he is 7-1 with a 1.76 ERA. The Phillies have now
won 10 straight Oswalt starts.
- Cole Hamels is 5-0 with a 0.49 ERA and is holding batters to a .173 batting average over his last five starts.
- As Todd Zolecki notes over at MLB.com, while the Phillies offense hasn’t been hanging eight or nine runs a game on guys lately, they have been knocking opposing starters out of games early lately, and getting into the bullpen. This is less sexy than high scores, but it’s proved to be an effective means of winning via a war of attrition.
Any reason for concern? It’s hard to find one that gets you animated.
- They bumped Roy Halladay back a day for his next start. He could very well be tired at the moment — he gave up a whopping three runs in seven innings against the Braves, the sad sack — so it makes sense that they need to rest him, what with him not having done this pitch-in-October thing before.
- Jimmy Rollins is still hurt — he’s expected to play before the regular season is over — but they survived much of the year without him, and are thriving without him at present.
- I also suppose the Phillies would have liked to seen the offense put up more runs on Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor, the two rookie starters the Braves thew at them on Monday and Tuesday, but hey, who needs runs when you got the Big Three? I think they’ll sort it out.
I’m not one to make bold, confident predictions — baseball just doesn’t lend itself to that sort of thing — so I won’t make one now. I will say, however, that I have a hard time seeing anyone go toe-to-toe with Philadelphia once the playoffs come. If they get the best record in the NL — which is highly likely – they’ll be able to pick a division series schedule that allows them to use only three starters. After that, they can just go for broke with Hamels, Halladay and Oswalt and plan on resting them up all winter.
The only thing that can derail them? The very nature of baseball itself. Strange things can happen in the playoffs. For years people said that no one could match Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz in the playoffs and — on paper anyway — that was true. With the exception of 1995, however, someone always managed to find a way. The NFL has the “any given Sunday” reputation, but it’s in baseball where anything can truly happen.
But yeah: if you put a gun to my head right now, I say it’s the Phillies title to lose. Does anyone really think otherwise?