It began in Washington on April 5, and fittingly, it has ended in Washington with the Philadelphia Phillies crushing the Washington Nationals, 8-0 en route to a divisional clinch.
And with every ending comes a new beginning.
Now, Dem Phightin' Phils will begin the process of gearing up for their fourth postseason berth in as many years.
And they do it HEALTHY!
Jimmy Rollins will return as soon as today, and the rest of the musketeers are in good health and playing at an incredibly high level.
But the Phillies will have to utilize a couple of things in order to survive the bevy of teams that they could face.
Let’s take a quick look at what lies ahead for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels have been exceptional since the three were put onto the same team, especially in September.
So far, this trio has gone 12-1 with a 2.58 ERA with literally two-thirds of their pitches being thrown for strikes (66 percent).
But it will take more than their stellar services to compete in the postseason.
The Phillies MUST continue to provide run support to their pitchers if they are to play on par with whomever they face, as the competition will inevitably be grueling to say the least.
Keeping themselves in games (primarily on the winning side) will also allow this team to NOT tap into their bullpen outside of the norm, which is a very good thing.
Hopefully the bullpen will be utilized after long starts and not be taxed early in games. It will afford them plenty of rest, and keep them fresh as they move through each team.
The last thing any postseason team wants is a tired bullpen in the game's waning moments.
The bullpen currently has an 18-7 record with a 3.30 ERA. They have been relatively solid all year long giving up very few home runs, but they will need to cut down on hits and walks. J.C. Romero is a culprit, as he is averaging 7.5 hits and a horrible 7.3 walks per nine innings.
Inevitably, some of the Phillies starters will get some much needed rest, but getting Mr. September off the bench will be paramount to how the Phillies handle the postseason.
Rollins needs to get his feet going and those muscles warmed up. He needs to find his eye, and get that chilly, yet warm postseason fever running through his veins, and he needs to get rolling NOW.
But even if Rollins does get back and can’t quite play up to speed, the Phillies are quite assured to know that SS Wilson Valdez has filled in beautifully for Rollins, so it isn’t as if the Phils can’t absorb another injury to Rollins.
But having a veteran bat and glove in the postseason goes a long way.
With playoff teams, most of the things we as fans and writers speculate on seems redundant and obvious, but it’s still fun to talk about, isn’t it?
With the type of overwhelming energy and noise the Philadelphia faithful provide in any one given game, taking advantage of the home games is a must.
Each home game win closes the door on the opposition just a little faster, and spikes the fans' energy per game a little higher, making Citizen’s Bank Park a dangerous place to play for the opposition. If the Phillies can tap into their fanbase throughout the postseason, things won’t turn out so well for other teams.
There are two things this team can do well: pitch and hit.
But when it comes to the hitting department, the Phillies have several options they can take advantage of when trying to defeat a team.
This is a team that can beat you with small ball, beat you when they swing for the fences, and beat you with extra base hits and stolen bases.
If you look at who could wind up in the postseason outside of the Reds, each of those teams—Padres, Giants, and Braves—each pose different scenarios.
The Braves can hit with the best of them, so being able to send the long ball into orbit really comes in handy with a power team that can also pitch rather well.
The Giants are very good at situational pitching especially out of the bullpen, so being able to change the potential run opportunities with extra base hits and stolen bases is an excellent neutralizer to a solid situational pen.
The Padres are one of the better defensive teams in the majors, so being able to mix up small ball and hit the gaps is the best way to counter a team that can field the ball really well.
In summation, the Phillies are a team that is built to handle any type of competition, and the race to the Fall Classic is a race that can be easily won if the Phillies just keep doing what they have been all year long.