Owners of the best record in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies prepare to enter the 2011 MLB playoffs as the overwhelming favorite to win the World Series.
Built upon the foundation of a stellar starting rotation, Philadelphia has pitched their way to the forefront of the postseason picture, and many expect that their talented crop of arms will lead them to October glory.
The amazing rotation, comprised of co-aces Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and veteran Roy Oswalt, has also welcomed rookie Vance Worley into its ranks, and he has done nothing but go 11-2 with a 2.85 in 20 starts.
To say the Phillies are well-armed is a significant understatement, as they own the best starting ERA in the NL, the lowest WHIP, as well as 18 complete games, or more than double the total of the nearest competitors.
Overall, their 3.01 staff ERA leads all of baseball, as does their bullpen's 85 percent save percentage.
Not only are the Phillies faring well in the regular season, but their starting staff boasts significant playoff experience as well.
Cliff Lee enters the playoffs with a 7-2 record, 2.13 ERA and a 0.816 WHIP in 10 postseason starts over the last two years.
Halladay only owns three career playoff starts, but is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA, a 0.773 WHIP, and tossed a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in his postseason debut last year.
Hamels' resume boasts a dominant 2008 postseason run, in which the lefty went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts, and picked up the NLCS and World Series MVP awards.
Despite an intimidating arsenal of pitching talent and a mightily successful 2011 season almost in the books, the Phillies aren't unbeatable.
Their arms are undoubtedly impressive, but they certainly aren't the offensive juggernaut they have been in recent years. Down years from Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, the loss of Jayson Werth, and an injury-plagued campaign from Chase Utley have combined to reduce the potency of the Phillies offensive attack.
Only seventh in runs scored, seventh in home runs, and eighth in team OPS, this is not the Philadelphia offense we had grown accustomed to in recent years. They had been among the Top 3 in runs scored in the National League during every season since 2004.
With that in mind, let's examine one potential reason that each remaining American League contender could defeat the Phillies in a playoff series and derail the championship aspirations in Philadelphia.
All Statistical information from Baseballreference.com