The thoughts and feelings of 1993 seem further and further away; the Phillies have advanced to the World Series for the first time in fifteen years. There are many people who contributed in different ways, but some stand out more than others.
The most important contribution was definitely the bullpen, specifically Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Brad Lidge, and Chad Durbin.
Ryan Madson has developed from a mediocre reliever to a solid set-up pitcher. From his devastating changeup to his speedy 96 MPH fastball, he makes himself a formidable opponent to an intimidating hitter. He has been solid in the postseason, going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and four strikeouts. His weakness: He only has two pitches. Usually two pitches is plenty to get the job done. It may or may not hurt him to only know a fastball and changeup with an okay curveball.
J.C. Romero was the Phillies' sole left-handed reliever until the Phillies traded for Scott Eyre from the Chicago Cubs. He has been nothing short of outstanding with a 0.00 ERA and three strikeouts in 2.1 innings pitched. His weakness: Although he is amazing against left-handed hitters, if Romero does not get them out, he faces right-handed hitters who hit him pretty hard.
Chad Durbin was a great six and/or seventh inning pitcher during the season. He had a shaky postseason, giving up one earned run in two innings. He is expected to improve during the World Series, and both the Phillies and fans sure hope so. His weakness: Durbin may miss his location. He tends to give up a few too many hits, especially in situations where they cannot be allowed.
And then there's Brad Lidge. He has been a perfect 3-for-3 in save opportunities. During the season he had a 1.95 ERA and a perfect 41-for-41 in save opportunities with 92 strikeouts. With his nasty slider, he is known as "Lights Out Lidge." His weakness: He may put men on base before getting quick outs. He may get one out, then a strikeout, then allow two straight hits before getting the third out. He says the men on base give him extra adrenaline and that is how he gets out of sticky situations.
The Phillies will face the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, October 22. The Phillies will be starting NLCS MVP Cole Hamels and the Rays are rumored to be starting Scott Kazmir.
Even the Rays, with James Shields and David Price, and long-ball hitters Evan Longoria and BJ Upton, will have difficulty against Lidge, Madson, Romero, and Durbin. I predict the Phillies will win the World Series in six games.