NLDS: 5 Fixes for the Flustered Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5

Peter ChenContributor IIIOctober 7, 2011

NLDS: 5 Fixes for the Flustered Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5

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    A funny thing has happened for the fabulous Phillies on their preordained march to another NLCS. They are knotted up 2-2 with the Cardinals, and haven’t even looked that good. 

    The Cardinals were a mile and a half behind the Braves just a few weeks ago.  Now they are a win away from knocking out the Phillies, the star-studded odds-on NL favorite to reach the World Series.  

    The Phillies have one game left to reassert themselves. Turn the page for five fixes, some obvious and others maybe not so obvious, that are essential to avoiding an early postseason exit.

Roy Halladay Has Everything Except a Ring

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    The Phils need a dominating performance from Roy Halladay.

    Doc has won a pair of Cy Young awards, pitched a perfect game, thrown a postseason no-hitter and has been an All-Star eight times. 

    What’s missing from this Hall of Fame resume? A ring. Halladay can take another step toward a World Series championship by shutting down the Cardinals in Game 5.

Ryan Howard Needs to Make Contact

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    Has Ryan Howard swung and missed more than any other player in baseball postseason history? Probably not, but it sure seems that way.

    He does have more postseason three-strikeout games than anyone, and holds the record for most strikeouts in a World Series, with 13 in 2009. 

    Over his career, he's struck out in nearly one-third of his at-bats.

    In 2011, his strikeout total was actually his second lowest since 2005, and he drew more walks than in any other season other than 2008. However, he's regressed during the NLDS.

    Howard does not need to slug three homers in Game 5, a' la Reggie Jackson or Adrian Beltre, for the Phillies to win. However, it would help if he were able to put the ball in play.

Take a Pitch

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    In the Phils’ Game 4 loss, only Chase Utley and Hunter Pence averaged over four pitches per at bat. 

    The Cardinals’ Game 5 pitcher, Chris Carpenter, was not sharp in his Game 2 start, where he lasted just three innings. Carpenter needed 64 pitches, made first-pitch strikes to only six of the 16 batters that he faced and walked three. 

    If Carpenter remains uncharacteristically off target, the Phillies should take more pitches, which could lead to more of the sought after “hitter’s counts.”

Stay Alive on the Basepaths

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    Chase Utley’s aggressive Game 4 baserunning was foiled by a brilliant play by Albert Pujols, and Utley was thrown out at third for the first out of the sixth inning. 

    In the Game 2 loss, Jimmy Rollins represented the tying run, but he was picked off first in the seventh inning. 

    Game 5 leaves little margin for any outs on the basepaths.

Bottom Fishing

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    The bottom of the Phillies' batting order—Raul Ibanez, John Mayberry, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz—has been unspectacular. The four have combined for one lonely extra base hit (an Ibanez HR) and just four RBI (all by Ibanez) in the NLDS.

    They need to do better in Game 5.

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