With two weeks left in the season, the Philadelphia Phillies have gotten hot at just the right time. They’ve won nine of their last ten games and have opened up a three game lead over the Atlanta Braves, their closest pursuers in the National League East race. The Phillies have a favorable schedule that gives them control over their own destiny. Six of the Phillies’ remaining twelve games are against the Braves, and three more are against the last place Washington Nationals.
The Phillies take on the Braves at Citizens Bank Park for a three game set September 20-22. Next, they close out their home schedule with a three game series against the New York Mets September 24-26. The Phillies hit the road for their last six regular season games, starting with three in Washington September 27-29. They close out the regular season in Atlanta with another three game series October1-3. The Phillies Magic Number over the Braves stood at ten following games of September 18th.
The Atlanta Braves remained in a good position for the National League Wild Card playoff slot, with a 2 1/2 game lead over the San Diego Padres and a 3 1/2 game lead over the Colorado Rockies. It’s a tight race in the National League West between the front running San Francisco Giants, the Padres, and Rockies. If the Braves stumble too much against the Phillies, they could be overtaken by one of the teams from the West.
Phillies resurgence based on improved offense and excellent starting pitching
The Phillies trailed the Braves for much of the 2010 season. The team had a large number of key players injured and on the disabled list, including first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley, and third baseman Placido Polanco. The club had a hard time scoring runs. Strong starting pitching kept the Phillies in the race, and with many of the injured players back and the offense restored, the club has surged into first place.
The performance of the top three starting pitchers has been excellent. Roy Halladay is 19-10 with a 2.49 ERA and eight complete games, and 210 strikeouts. He’s tied for the National League lead in victories, leads the league in complete games, and is second in strikeouts. Cole Hamels is 11-10 with a 3.01 ERA. The win-loss total is deceptive as Hamels has pitched well all season but suffered from a lack of run support. He lost back to back 1-0 games in August. He’s allowed just one earned run in his last four decisions, all victories. He has 201 strikeouts, tied for third best in the league. The Phillies picked up Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros just before the trade deadline at the end of July. After dropping his first decision, Oswalt has reeled off seven straight wins, and has an ERA of 1.94.
The Philadelphia Phillies are getting hot and healthy at the right time. With many of their players having returned from injuries, their potent offense is back on track. Together with their excellent starting pitching, the Phillies are in great shape to once again win the National League East and perhaps make it to the World Series for the third year in a row.
Yahoo! Sports Baseball