It should feel great that the Phillies clinched another playoff birth. Though, for some reason, I’m just a little anxious. I guess the only thing that would make me feel great is if I was confident in the Phillies winning a playoff series.
I have significant questions about the Phillies, specifically, their starting pitching and closer slot. The Phillies boast a solid roster of starting pitchers, especially on paper. However, the likes of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Pedro Martinez aren’t really pumping out the dominating performances we need to get over the playoff hump. Lee has been mediocre at best since his strong start here in Philadelphia. Hamels is wildly inconsistent and hasn’t gotten any run support. Pedro has pitched ok, but he doesn’t have the ability anymore to crush opponents and win games on his own. Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ both have looked good, but aren’t top of the rotation guys right now. In fact, Happ is battling a little bit of the injury bug. Further complicating things is that the old stand-by, usually good for a solid start and long relief, Jamie Moyer is done for the season with some groin and hamstring issues. They key to this situation is that the starters need to pull it together. We need the dominating performances out Lee and Hamels. Pedro and Blanton need to step it up. There is nothing else that can be done. We have to rely on our starting pitching. If these guys want it bad enough and they should, I think that Lee, Hamels and the crew will prove they are capable of providing dominating playoff performances.
Even scarier is the closer situation. Brad Lidge, Tyler Walker, Ryan Madson and even Brett Myers will be on the post-season roster. Yet, we’re not sure who will show up as the closer. As discussed in previous posts, we think Ryan Madson should be handed the role and be able to prepare like the closer. Keep Lidge off the post-season roster and let Walker and Myers battle it out for the set-up role. Whatever happens, the Phillies post-season relies on the bullpen, specifically the closer role.
As I look forward to the playoffs and the determination of the match-ups, I sit and wonder – which Phillies pitching staff will show up for the defense of the World Series title?