Don’t Jump Off a Cliff Yet! The Phillies Are Beatable Even with Cliff Lee

December 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Four aces is almost a guaranteed win in poker. However, the Phillies’ “four aces” will not guarantee them any more World Series rings…yet.

Even with the addition of Cliff Lee, the Phillies are not on a plateau above the rest of the MLB.

As an avid Phillies fan, I consider myself to be unbiased on this subject, and though I wish it were not true, I believe that the Phillies are going to be knocked out in the NLCS or World Series.

The Phillies have an amazing starting rotation now; however, they will not be able to finish games with their bullpen. The Phillies seemed to be fixing their bullpen late in the season, but they do not have the shutdown bullpen they had during their 2008 World Series run.

In ’08, the Phillies had a perfect Brad Lidge (41-of-41 in the regular season and seven more saves in the postseason), whose only blown save was in the All-Star Game, and a shutdown “Bridge to Lidge” in Ryan Madson. Besides Lidge and Madson having career seasons, the rest of the bullpen was clutch, and the entire team pitched well when it mattered, having a 3.07 ERA in the postseason.

The bullpen was the backbone of the ’08 team, and even though they only had a few good starters, the bullpen held the opposing team whenever they had to.

The Phillies had great starting pitching last year too, with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt (acquired via trade with Houston) making up H2O, and they doused many teams whose offenses were on fire. The Phillies also proved that starters are not enough for a winning team.

H2O pitched well, and Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and the rest of the starters weren’t too shabby either. However, you can shut out every team, but you won’t win without an offense. The Phillies offense is just too inconsistent to pull off a postseason run, especially when the best pitchers are still around. The Phillies’ starters did reasonably well against the Giants in 2010, but the offense just couldn’t help them out.

An offense that struggled last year will be worse this year if not addressed. The Phillies lost Jayson Werth to the Nationals, and though Werth did not have a great 2010 season, his All-Star production is to be replaced by second-year player Domonic Brown.

Brown had a decent start in the majors, but he is still young and inexperienced and cannot be relied upon to be as cool in the postseason as All-Star Jayson Werth, who has already been there three times with the Phillies.

Losing Werth was a big loss, and in an aging lineup like Philadelphia’s, which includes seven of eight batters who are 30-plus years of age (and have been riddled with injuries), the Phillies need to acquire a more consistent bat that that of 31-year-old Ryan Howard. Howard struggled mightily in the playoffs, and his strikeouts are a major area of concern.

If the Phillies lineup can stay healthy or add another bat, they will manage, but asking such an old lineup to stay healthy is asking a lot.

If the Phillies do not acquire a good bat and/or stay healthy, as well as a decent bullpen arm (perhaps Chan Ho Park again), then they will most likely lose in the playoffs.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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