Come Saturday, none of this will matter.
The team is in one of the most unique positions in recent memory in Philadelphia. Win the World Series, and they will forever remain legends, perhaps being hailed as one of the best teams in the city's history. If they should fail, it could go down as one of the most disappointing teams in the city's history.
Rarely is there such a vast difference between the glory of winning and the struggles of losing. But with the success they've achieved comes this bitter sense of reality.
The team is not perfect. The bullpen has quickly turned from one of the Phillies' greatest strengths to one of the biggest question marks heading into October. Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes have been outplayed by Brad Lidge, who in many respects also lacks a sense of security in the latter half of the bullpen.
The saving grace of this bullpen's flaw is that with four formidable "ace"-quality pitchers, there may not exist the need for extensive relief work, save for Ryan Madson in the ninth.
The offense, like the pen, has also been streaky, most notably highlighted by an eight-game losing streak suffered earlier this month. They were literally playing for nothing but the franchise record, but it did cause some concerns on how ready this team will be for postseason play (although, these concerns seem to be mostly alleviated by the recent sweep of the Braves, a series that was played at Turner Field).
The Phillies are clearly the front-runner to win the World Series. If defense wins championships, which it often does, the starting pitching has what it takes to lead this team to a title. But as we all saw last year, all it takes is one bad game, one bad play or one bad pitch to draw the delicate line between winning and losing.
There are scarce teams who ever coast through the postseason without struggles along the way. So for any Phillies fans out there who are already seeing visions of another parade dancing in their heads, take note. It won't be easy. This, like most quests for a championship, could end up being one bumpy ride.
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