Friday, August 12, 2011

Phils vs. NL West in Division Series? Probably

The Phillies should have an interest as to whom comes out on top of the NL West; they're likely to face them in the first round of the post season.

First off, the Phils have the disadvantage of facing a division winner, because they are very likely to secure the Number One seed (they currently hold a ten game lead) and Atlanta is very likely to win the Wild Card (five game lead). Of course, teams from the same division can not face each other in Division series, therefore, the Phils would face the team with the third best record.

The Arizona Diamondbacks currently lead the NL West by just one game over the San Francisco Giants. Who would you rather face?

Well, that's a tough one. The Diamondbacks have been playing great ball, and if they win the division, we can assume they continue playing very well throughout their final 44 games. The Giants have been scuffling, but that pitching rotation can be un-hitable, as well all well know, and the possibility of a five-game series against their pitching is that much more daunting. Lose Game One to Tim Lincecum, and there is less time to bounce back before their backs are against the wall.

The Milwaukee Brewers lead the NL Central, and hold just a two-game lead over Arizona. The possibility remains that the Phils square off against the Brew Crew in Round One, but I doubt it. The Brewers are a tough team, and Arizona and San Fran figure to beat up on each other a bit down the stretch while fighting for the division championship. I see Milwaukee cruising to an NL Central crown, and a date with the Braves in the division series.

Against Arizona this year, the Phils are 1-2. But that series came back in April. Ian Kennedy pitched a complete game shutout in the first game, striking out ten and allowing just three hits. He beat Cliff Lee who struck out twelve. The D-Backs took the series with a 7-5 victory in Game Two, as Daniel Hudson beat Roy Oswalt, who allowed five runs over just three innings. Cole Hamels took the finale for the Phils against Joe Saunders.

The Phils will host the D-Backs for the three game set starting Tuesday, which should shed some insight on how the Phils match-up.

The Phillies are 4-3 against the Giants this season, with three of the four victories coming on this last road trip against a struggling club. Linecum has beaten the Phils twice this season, but Roy Halladay has yet to face the Giants. Obviously the Phils can beat them, but of course, the Giants can get hot at the right time and are the one team that may be able to counter the Phils' tremendous pitching.

Of course, this is all assuming these teams makes the playoffs. The Phils have, by no means, wrapped anything up. But, they've had the best record in MLB for most of the season, and there's no reason to believe they're about to start struggling.

The Phillies are likely to clinch the division far earlier than any other season since their consecutive wins streak started in 2007. If that's the case, hopefully watching other teams battle for playoff spots and positioning will keep us entertained during the last few weeks of September.

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