The Philadelphia Phillies chances as taking home their first World Series in over 20 years could all hinge on the arms of four pitchers.
The ace of the staff, Cole Hamels, has risen to challenge this season so far. He has won all three games he has pitched in and struck out 22 while walking just six all while having a 1.23 era. He has quickly made fans forget about his less then stellar performance against the Rockies last year. Hamels looks to make a statement early a and quiet the crowd with a big Game One victory.
The Phillies turn the ball over to Brett Myers for Game Two, who actually has been more impressive with his bat then his pitching with his three-hit game against the Brewers. This season has been Myers' toughest by far.
He accepted a demotion to the minors to work on some of his mechanics when he was struggling. Since his return he has showed flashes of the old Brett with some dominating performances towards the end of the season. He is 2-0 in the post season but his era is over five. He would really like to bring that down, but it is going to tough with some hard hitting lefties in Tampa's Line Up.
Game Three will see the Phils throw out their veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer. During the season it could be argued that Moyer was the Phillies' most consistent pitcher with 16 wins and a 3.71 era. But this post season has been a nightmare for him.
First he lost to the Brewers after giving up two runs and walking four in five innings of work. Then against the Dodgers he was unable to get out of the second inning after giving up six hits and six runs. Fans are now holding their breathe when he takes the mound not sure which Jamie will come out.
Game Four pitcher will be Joe Blanton, the Phillies mid-season addition. Blanton has been great for the Phillies. He may not be the big name, killer fastball Phillies fans desired but he has been doing his job for this team. Blanton has consistently given the Phils six or seven innings while giving up three or four runs.
He turns it over to the bullpen who have been the real MVPs this season. It has been that way since this season has started. Get a lead in the seventh, turn it over to the eighth and it's over.
The ninth inning has been dominated by Brad Lidge, who has shaken all the demons from that infamous Albert Pujols saga. The Phillies are a ridiculous 80-0 when leading in the eighth inning. The Phils might need their bullpen more then ever in this series if Moyer continues to struggle, and another start falters.
In my opinion I give the Rays the advantage in the starting pitching department just because your not sure which Moyer is going to show up. The battle between bullpens is dominated by the Phillies, as the Rays don't have a set closer. Although, after watching Game Seven against Boston, David Price might be that guy.
The wild card will be the two managers. I think Charlie Manuel has done an outstanding job coaching this team this season, especially in the postseason.
While Maddon has done a superb job, I felt he blew Game Five against Boston. He left Dan Wheeler in way too long and walked Bay to get to Drew who had just homered. Those mistakes become huge on a stage like this.
If I was a betting man, I would take the Phillies in seven, and Cole Hamels to dominate like he has been and take home MVP honors again.