World Champion Philadelphia Phillies Stumbling as MLB Playoffs Approach

October 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Major League Baseball playoffs are taking shape in the final weekend with only two spots left to be decided in each league.

In the National League, all four playoff spots are taken: Phillies in the East, Cardinals in the Central, Dodgers and Rockies in the West. Whoever doesn’t win the West will be the Wild Card.

In the American League, the Yankees won the East and the Angels the West. In the Central, the Tigers lead the Twins by one game with two to play.

The Red Sox have claimed the Wild Card, so whoever comes up short in the Central will miss out on the postseason.

The scariest team in the playoffs? It has to be the Yankees with a record of 102-58 and a lofty .638 winning percentage. If the games were played on paper, the Yankees could be awarded the World Series crown now. It would be the franchise’s 27th.

But that is why they play the game. And the last time I checked, the Philadelphia Phillies were still the reigning World Series champions.

Whew. I said it. But that is the most hopeful thing I can about my Phillies.

They’re running on fumes.

The problem? An inconsistent and injured bullpen and an ice-cold offense, save for Ryan Howard.

Howard hit his 44th home run Friday night in a 7-2 loss to the Florida Marlins. His 140 RBI lead the National League.

That is it for the good news. But the Phillies will be headed into the playoffs for the third straight year, where anything can happen.

Yesterday, it was disclosed that J.C. Romero will likely be lost for the season and Chan Ho Park is hurt. Jamie Moyer is also done for the season. Even Brett Myers is not completely healthy.

Another problem is that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is trying to play rest the starters and capture the league’s best record at the same time.

He’s sitting two to three starters each game while trying to gain home-field advantage.

You can’t have it both ways.

Chase Utley went 0-for-4 and is now hitless in 13 at-bats on the homestand.

The Phils have looked lifeless in their last two games, a 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros before last night’s loss.

All is not lost for home-field, however. The Cardinals lost to the Brewers 12-6 and the Rockies beat the Dodgers 4-3 on Friday night.

The Phils remain one game ahead of the Cardinals and can clinch home-field advantage for the first round with a win Saturday or Sunday or a Cardinals loss either day.

I can live with that.

So I guess Manuel’s hybrid rest/win strategy could muster up one win in the next two days. A solid five innings by Cole Hamels on Saturday could help.

One guy I would not sit down, whatever the consequence, is Howard. 

The big man is the Phillies offense right now.

Otherwise, the team looks dead.

For the 2009 Phillies, they have to crawl before they walk to the championship round of the National League or their second straight World Series.

Can you say Sergio Escalona and a 1-2-3 inning in the same sentence?

Brad Lidge? Brett Myers? Andy Tracy?

It doesn’t look good. The Phillies have to turn on the jets and soon.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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