The Phillies have played extremely well so far this year.
Their lineup has been one of the most consistent in the league.
Their rotation is turning around.
And let’s face it, they have been hot.
Everything is coming together for the Phillies, and I predict they will run away with the division. I predict they will come out of August with a good size lead over the other contenders.
Do you want reasons? Here are five.
1. Pitching Rotation is Hot
With the addition of Cliff Lee, who makes his home debut with the Phillies today, the Phillies have one of the best rotations in the National League.
Last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner joins World Series MVP Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation. Yes, I know, Hamels has struggled, but let’s not lose hope. He is a big game pitcher and will come through down the stretch.
At the back end, the Phillies have Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, and Jamie Moyer. Honestly, Blanton and Happ should be aces considering the way they’ve pitched this year.
Happ threw his second shutout of the season yesterday, and Joe Blanton, who shut down batters in July, allowed two runs in a loss against the San Francisco Giants his last time out.
Finally, we have Jamie Moyer. He pitched as well as last year, but he leads the team in wins. I don’t care how high his ERA is at this point, just as long as he gets the win. He has gotten a lot of run support from the lineup, which is good. Also, he won five of his last seven starts.
2. Lineup Going Strong
The Phillies undoubtedly have the most productive lineup in the league.
In the middle of the lineup, they have four players (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Jayson Werth) that already have 20 home runs. All of them will have at least 100 RBI by the end of the season.
In the one and two slots of the lineup, they have former MVP Jimmy Rollins and All-Star Shane Victorino. Rollins, who has homered in three consecutive games, has turned it on recently.
Shane Victorino had a big month in July, and hopefully his success should carry over into August. If it does, the Phillies will have two table setters at the beginning of their lineup.
At the bottom of the lineup they have the Latino Bash Brothers, Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz. Feliz is batting this year. Carlos Ruiz is struggling at the plate this year, but he has handled the pitching staff extremely well.
3. World Series Champion Status
This doesn’t really count for much if you are one of those people who say, “last year was last year, this year is a new year.” But in reality, it does count for something.
The Phillies have the World Champion swagger, and they’ve shown it. Don’t you think some teams get nervous when the play last year’s World Champs?
4. More Players on the Way
This is one of the most important reasons on the list. The Phillies have had their share of injuries this year, and most of the players will return this month.
Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero, Clay Condrey, and Brett Myers, all of whom were important players on last year’s team, are on the disabled list. They all should be back soon, though Myers could be back in late August. Durbin, Romero, and Condrey will resume their previous roles, and Myers will likely pitch out of the bullpen.
Also, Pedro Martinez pitched in what could be his last rehab assignment yesterday. He pitched very well and could join the team next week, depending on what the Phillies want to do.
Finally, rosters expand on Sept. 1. This means players on the Phillies 40-man roster that aren’t on the major league roster will get called up for the rest of the season. This includes John Mayberry Jr., Brad Harman, and Mike Zagurski.
5. Upcoming Schedule
This can go either way for the Phillies. It all depends on how they play. Most of their remaining games are against other teams in their division. If they can take at least two out of three in those series, they will increase their lead tremendously.