Saturday, October 2, 2010

Playoff Rotation Set, Potential Opponents Cringe

Phillies manager Charlie Manager confirmed his team's starting pitching rotation for the National League Division Series. Cy Young Award hopeful Roy Halladay will take the mound in game one and Roy Oswalt will go in game 2. Manuel did not name his game 3 starter, but he didn't have to. 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels remains the best option and will start game 3. If necessary, Halladay would come back for game 4, while Oswalt could start game 5.

The Phillies have home field advantage for as long as they are active in the 2010 post-season. The Phillies will play games 1, 2 (and 5, if necessary) at home, in the opening round.

Halladay is the easy choice to roll out first, as he ranks in the top 3 in each of the National League pitching triple crown categories (wins, ERA, strike outs) and is the ace of the Phillies staff. Halladay's 9 complete games are more than any other team in the National League.

Oswalt gets the nod for game 2 due to his outstanding history at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park. In 10 career starts there, Oswalt has posted a 9-0 record with a 2.10 ERA and a .208 batting average against.

Hamels has been solid of late (2.13 ERA in his last 10 starts this season), but will see his start in Saturday's game against Atlanta pushed back a day, due to a head cold. With 10 career post-season starts, Hamels is the most experienced playoff pitcher among the "H2O" trio. In those starts, Hamels has a 5-3 record and a 3.86 ERA.

The Phillies' opponent for the first round of the playoffs has not yet been determined, as the Giants, Padres and Braves battle it out for 2 remaining spots in the post-season. Despite that, Philadelphia phaithful should be extremely confident as the Phillies begin a quest to land themselves in a third consecutive World Series. In 16 combined starts since the beginning of September Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt have teamed to post 13-1 record with a 2.13 ERA.

Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee are not going by the book of unofficial baseball rules, which would generally call for breaking up the two right-handed starters by using the left-handed Hamels in between. With an extraordinary collection of pitchers (Halladay, Hamels & Oswalt have a combined 2.25 ERA since Oswalt joined the Phillies in July), there's no need to adhere to such guidelines.


Tune into 97.3 ESPN out of Millville around 1pm today to hear me talking baseball with Tyrone Johnson on The Weekend Sports Guide. 97.3 FM streams online here.

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