With a win over Houston Wednesday night, the Phillies are now officially in the playoffs, but who exactly is the best matchup for them in the NLDS?
As it stands right now, the Phillies are poised to either face the Arizona Diamondbacks or the Milwaukee Brewers, depending on who finishes third, so the choices are—for the most part—relatively clear.
So out of these two competitors, who is the best team to face for the Phillies?
Well, you'll have to read further to see the answer.
Although the Brewers have a better chance of finishing second than Arizona (scheduling), I still feel that the Brew Crew is a much better matchup for Philadelphia than Arizona would be in the NLDS.
To begin, it's a simple matter of playoff positioning.
The last thing that any team in the National League wants is to have to face the Brewers in the NLCS, simply because nobody wants to face an already good team with a head of steam.
The Phillies could really benefit from facing the Brewers' veterans and youth in the NLDS because it would allow them to keep them at bay and drain any existing winds in their sails.
But still, how?
The Brewers are a far better team at home than they are on the road, and despite Philadelphia's recent success in Milwaukee, it would be best to face the Brewers in Philadelphia for the majority of the series.
Honestly, this is a matter of numbers and advantage here. When you're in the playoffs, you want the best possible situation, and facing the Brewers three out of five in Philly simply solves for "X" here.
But what other reasons are there?
Overall, the Phillies have a 3.27 ERA against the Brewers, and a 2.75 collective ERA at home as opposed to a 3.31 ERA on the road.
While Roy Halladay and Vance Worley have turned in mixed results against the Brewers this year, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have been able to quiet the Brewers' bats.
In addition to that, Roy Oswalt has historically been a Brewer killer, with a career 14-8 record alongside a 3.59 ERA, which only adds to the overall potential for a seemingly stellar matchup.
The bats are starting to come alive, the injuries are starting to fade and the Phillies are slowly but surely returning to full strength meaning they are coming together at just the right time.
When facing a team as deadly as Milwaukee, you have to be at your fullest strength, especially in a playoff setting.
When Philadelphia is at full strength, the Brewers will inevitably have a much harder time dealing with this team (Philadelphia) in five on the road.
But the point here is simple: The Brewers could arguably be the best No. 2 team in the National League, so facing them AT HOME and at full strength would bode extremely well for the Phillies as opposed to facing them a round later.
Sometimes, it's a matter of when, not who.
I think no matter where you go in baseball nowadays, there is always going to be a strong Philadelphia following.
But facing the Phillies at home in the NLDS, after what has seemingly been another magical year, is just about THE single most difficult thing to have to deal with in baseball.
The Philadelphia faithful are the true X-factor here.
The droves upon droves of elite baseball fans that pack in Citizen's Bank Park—in a playoff setting mind you—is just simply too much to bear for many, and with that incredible strength behind them, the Phillies are just unstoppable.
But what does this mean? Most Phillies' fans already know this.
It's about precedent.
It's about setting the tone and sending the message loud and clear for every competitor in the National League to hear which simply says: get ready because here we, and our 60,000-plus, come...are you ready?
Setting the tone now and allowing the fans to have three out of five at home provides a catalyst that no pep talk can even hold a candle to.
This fanbase is NOTHING to take lightly!
The setting is there for the taking. A potential home-stint for three out of five, in a favorable situation with 60,000-plus screaming their you know whats off.
Yeah, a definite X-factor that the Brewers—an already bad road team—will have no answer for.