As Ryan Howard limped off the field yesterday my first thought was this season,s over. Charlie doesn't call him 'The Big Piece' for nothing. The big guy is an RBI machine on a team that is struggling to score runs. This season has not gone as planned. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Brad Lidge, Placido Polanco, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson, Brian Schneider, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, and J.A. Happ have all spent time on the DL. Think about that a second, the only every day players who haven't been hurt are Raul Ibanez, who missed yesterday,s game with a sore wrist and Jayson Werth. They could easily pack it in like the New York Muts did last year and use the injuries as an excuse. Or they can get healthy and keep the train rolling right into the playoffs for a fourth straight year. This team is special and I think they are about to prove it. Here are the reasons I think they can get it done.
The Braves aren't that good. They have some talent in their lineup and a nice starting rotation but they are coming back to earth. Any team that loses 10 straight like they did earlier in the season has holes. They rely on Chipper Jones who we know is always nicked up and Brian McCann for their offense. A catcher is always one foul tip away from the DL. Jason Heyward started out like the next Willie Mays but pitchers have adjusted, he will be a great player but he's not ready to carry his team.
The Phillies will get healthy for the stretch run. If for no other reason there is no one left to get hurt. The one knock on Utley is that he wears down as the season goes on. I don't buy that since he had 5 home runs in last year,s World Series but he may benefit for the time on the DL. Let,s also hope Howard isn't out long, the Cody Ranson/Ross Gload platoon will not scare too many opposing pitchers.
The starting rotation with Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt will start to dominate. Halladay has done it all year and to a lesser degree so has Hamels. They have had terrible run support, that should change as players get back in the lineup. Oswalt laid an egg in his first start but the guy is a proven performer. If we had a choice between getting Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt last year at the deadline I would have picked Oswalt. He will step up big for the Phils in the second half.
This can be the sweetest year of this current Phillies run if they can find a way to get to the playoffs. With a playoff rotation of Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt I like our chances to get to a third straight World Series. Just get me to the playoffs boys.
Keep it classy Philly!