They gave up Rowand and failed to get a starting pitcher in the offseason. The Mets got Santana. But, It was the Phils who dominated early on.
Then inter-league play hit. All of a sudden a team that scored 20+ runs twice this season, couldn’t score. Somehow they managed to bring it all together in September just like last year.
In the end, They closed out the season on 13-3 run starting with the September sweep of Milwaukee. Somehow, Ryan Howard found his bat, Jimmy Rollins picked up his play, Chase found his swing, Myers found the strike zone and as always Lidge was there to close it out.
To single those players out would be unfair to Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, and the bullpen that were solid for the Phillies all year.
Come Wednesday, It is a second shot for this team, where they failed last year. At home against the wild card with King Cole on the hill.
A position by position look at this series.
CARLOS RUIZ/ CHRIS COSTE: Ruiz is known to all Phillies fans for his perfection of the technique of grounding into a double play. Coste is a great story and a very likeable guy but really has not been as effective with the bat as he was last year. Their respective .320/.325 on base percentages and combined .239 batting averages are not scaring anyone at the plate.
JASON KENDALL: Was once one of the better hitting catchers in the major leagues. Not anymore. 2 homers and 49 RBIs on the year for Kendall. Hit .246 with .327 on base percentage.
RYAN HOWARD: What can you say about Ryan Howard. After strugglingggggggg to start the season, he ended up with a respectable .251 average, 48 homers and 146 RBI. His September performance (.352/11/32 to go along with a .422 OBP and .852 slugging%) vaulted him into the NL MVP discussion. Defense is a bit shaky, to say the least.
PRINCE FIELDER: One of the best first baseman in the NL, Fielder knocked 34 homers and drove in 102 runs this year. He had a huge walkoff homer against the Pirates in the final week of the season.
CHASE UTLEY: Best OBP(.380) on the team, 33 homers, 104 runs driven in, and a slugging percentage over .500. Basically he gives you the same production as Prince Fielder at the plate—and plays second base. His power production has trailed off significantly after having 18 homers at the end of May, he has only 14 since.
RICKIE WEEKS/RAY DURHAM: Chase Utley. ‘Nuff said.
JIMMY ROLLINS: Last year’s MVP was not able to repeat his performance of last year. Of course he was about 15 homers above his career average, and batted about 20 points higher. His .277 average and 11 homers were more in line with his career averages. Rollins did post a career high .349 OBP, solid defense and 47-3 SB/CS ratio defintely helped the Phils make the playoffs this year.
JJ HARDY: .283 average this season, 24 home runs, .343 OBP makes him about the same production-wise as Jimmy Rollins. Maybe a slight edge in power to Hardy, but Rollins makes up for it with his speed and defense
PEDRO FELIZ/GREG DOBBS/ERIC BRUNTLETT: These guys have combined to do a solid job for the Phils off the bench. It seemed like Feliz had a few key hits for the Phillies down the stretch, but in the end the Phillies are not looking for too much production from this spot.
CRAIG COUNSELL/BILL HALL: Counsell’s .355 OBP is slightly higher, but he doesn’t give you too much power. Hall hit 15 homers but a sub-.300 OBP is not very good at all.
THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS “PAT BURRELLS CONTRACT YEAR.”: Burrell hit .275/23/57 before the All-Star break with a .404 OBP, when he was known as “PB’s Contract Year.” Since changing his name during the break, He has hit .215/10/29 with a .313 OBP. At this point his only hope is a lefty.
RYAN BRAUN: Arguably the Brewers best hitter this season. His batting avg., OBP, slugging, HRs and RBIs are all better than Fielder this year. I’d say hes definitely the Brewers best hitter.
SHANE VICTORINO: The Flyin Hawaiian has been one of the bright spots for the Phils this year. We all wanted to believe he could replace Aaron Rowand, but we were not quite sure. He certainly showed hes an everyday starting CF, hitting .311 with a .498 slugging percentage after the All-star break. Also, the man can absolutely fly and will chase down anything in centerfield and is always a threat to steal bases.
MIKE CAMERON: Cameron has more power than Victorino with his 25 homers this year, but his .243 avg and .331 OBP are no where near as good.
JAYSON WERTH: He has been a huge part of the Phillies run this season. Always plays hard, is a threat to steal bases and has a better arm than Geoff Jenkins. Hit .313 with 6 homers and a .600+ slugging percentage in August when some of the other Phillies bats were struggling.
COREY HART: Got the most AB’s on the brewers team this year. Doesn’t get on base as much as Werth, will try to steal some bases although not as well as Werth’s 20/1 ratio. Hart has similiar HR and RBI numbers as Werth.
PHILLIES: Led by Cole Hamels who will make the Game 1 start. Hamels had the third highest inning total in the majors behind only Halladay and Santana. He had a solid 196/53 K/BB ratio on the season. Hamels posted a 3.09 ERA on the season, while only getting 14 wins mainly as a result of bad luck and giving up 29 home runs on the season. Jamie Moyer led the Phils in wins with 16 and posted a 3.71 ERA. Somehow the Old Man manages to get it done. Who knows what Brett Myers will give you. After being sent down, he did throw solidly after the all-star going 7-4 with 3.06 ERA and a 75/21 BB/K ratio. The biggest difference: He only allowed 5 home runs after the break(24 before). Blanton should round out the starting four, and you just hope for six innings and less than four runs from him.
BREWERS: CC was probably the best pitcher in the NL this year. He threw on three days rest seemingly all of September and will probably do so again in Game 2 of this series. 1.65 ERA since coming to the Brew Crew with 114 Ks to only 19 BBs. Ben Sheets has pitched more this season than he has in awhile. 198 innings is his highest total since 2004. And it took a toll too as he is out for the series. He was only 3-6 with a 3.46 ERA in the second half of the season. Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo and Dave Bush should be the other three pitchers for the Brewers, and they aren’t scaring anyone.
PHILLIES: Phillies bullpen has been and undoubted strength for the team this year. Lidge is 41/41 in save opps throughout the season. Durbin, Madson and Romero have largely been solid for the team, although they all may be showing signs of tiring. Heck, even Rudy Seanez and Scott Eyre have made big outs for this team. There is a possibility that Happ and Kendrick will be in the pen to help out.
BREWERS: The Brewers bullpen is bad. Not Quite Mets bad, but the Phillies will have a real chance for a few comeback wins in this series.
PREDICTION: without knowing the Matchups other than King Cole is starting game one, I’ll say Phils in 4.
We should have a live blog running on Wednesday. See you then.