Thursday, September 16, 2010

Phillies Playoff Outlook

Don't look now, but the Phillies, who were 7 games out of the NL East just a month or so ago, now have a 3 game lead over the Braves with a head-to-head series early next week. I figured that a little look ahead at possible playoff matchups for the Phils would be appropriate. So, here's a rundown of the prospective starters from each of the top 4 teams in the NL playoff hunt and their innings pitched and ERA against the Phillies this year:

Giants (3-3 for season):

Lincecum: 8.1 IP, 2.16
Cain: 6 IP, 3.00
Zito: 5 IP, 7.20

Padres (5-2 for season):

Latos: 12 IP, 3.00
Richard: 7.2 IP, 2.35
Garland: 13.1 IP, 6.08

Reds (5-2 for season):

Arroyo: n/a
Cueto: 15 IP, 1.20
Leake: 14.1 IP, 6.91

Braves (5-7 for season):

Hudson: 12 IP, 3.00
Jurrjens: 6 IP, 4.50
Lowe: 25 IP, 5.04

While the Giants' rotation hasn't had a great second half, I still don't want to have to face them in the postseason. They've got 4 very good starters and have done fairly well against us this year. We would have a good chance of playing them if they do in fact take down the Wild Card. Or, they could overtake the Padres, who we swept not too long ago in a pretty offensively challenged series. I don't see our lineup being that anemic in October, and the fact that we beat them so recently should give the Phillies a boost in that scenario. The Phils swept the Reds in dramatic fashion going into the All Star break, but for the most part we weren't exactly dominant. The Reds have extended their lead in the division despite playing particularly poorly against the better teams in the league, and while their pitching can put on a show, they're a little inconsistent for me. From a pitching perspective, the Braves' top of the rotation has been the weakest against the Phillies, but they still hold a winning record against the Phils in 12 games (and several more to go), and would not face us until a possible NLCS, at which point an extra starter may come into the mix and muddle this whole thing up.

As for the Phillies starters against these teams?

Cin: 17 IP, 2.12
SD: 7 IP, 2.57
SF: 7 IP, 6.43
Atl: 18 IP, 0.50

Cin: 12 IP, 6.75
SD: 23 IP, 1.57
SF: 27 IP, 3.33
Atl: n/a

Cin: 7.2 IP, 0.00
SD: 16 IP, 1.13
SF: 11 IP, 7.36
Atl: 12.2 IP, 6.39

Once again, the numbers against San Diego look really good, and those performances are recent enough that you could expect a similar situation in the playoffs. Halladay has dominated the Braves and Hamels hasn't faced them in quite some time, so I certainly wouldn't mind this rotation facing that team, but again that wouldn't happen except in an NLCS. San Francisco has gotten to both Halladay and Hamels, and the Giants' staff has the kind of numbers against the Phillies that I wouldn't want to go up against them.

In sum, I think the Phillies have the best shot at making it back to the World Series (of course, they need to make the playoffs first) if they take on the Padres in the NLDS (which would likely have to involve them losing the division to the Giants and beating out the Braves for the Wild Card), and then a matchup against the Braves would be a great one to watch. Hopefully the Fightin' Phils can put on another October showcase this year!

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