Monday, October 3, 2011

Must Win?

     Well after a lackluster performance from Cliff Lee and the bats, the Phillies face something they haven’t faced all year. A must win game. The division was never in doubt, and despite the 8 game skid at the tail end of the season, the Phillies were on cruise control. Sure the pundits will say that the Phillies faced adversity because they had so many key injuries, but a game in June cannot simulate the need to win a game on the road in a 5 game series that is tied up 1-1.
     Cole Hamels is they key here. Oswalt had been above average in his last few starts, but I cannot see being down 2-1 on the road and having to depend on that Roy. It is a must win. Hamels has been a stud in the NLDS for the Phils. He sports a 2.20 ERA and 30 K’s in 28.2 Innings of work. Sounds like he would be 4-0 there right? Wrong. He is 2-2. Plagued by the lack of run support.
     So let’s take a look at the Cards starter for Game 3 and how the Phillies match up. Yikes. The Phillies are hitting a paltry .211 against Garcia in 2011. That is the bad news. The only probable starter that has hit Garcia well is John Mayberry Jr., who should play LF in place of Ibanez. More bad news though...The Phillies top 5 in the lineup are a combined 8 for 55 against Garcia. So who, if anyone, will be on for Mayberry to knock home? Let’s hope he will go 3-4 with 3 bombs and the Phils win 3-2.
     Polanco may be more hurt than he is even letting on with the sport hernia. He is 0-8 with 3K’s and has looked lost at the plate. At this point, I have to assume he is in there because the Phils don’t have anyone better and Placido’s glove work has been stellar at the hot corner. With that being said, I think he should move back to his normal second spot against LH starters. But didn’t I just say he can’t hit apparently? Well he has a .314 average out of the 2 hole. Put him where he is most comfortable. At 2 he knows his role and is comfortable. At 6 or 7 he doesn’t know whether his role it to get on, knock people in, or move them up. Consequently, he has done none of the above.
     I felt like the Phillies, once again last night, waited for the 2 or 2 run homer. Playoffs are pitching, small ball, and timely hitting. Charlie needs to switch things up just enough to throw the Cards off...and maybe shake the Phils up a bit without feeling like a panic button is hit. Rollins, Polanco, Pence, Howard, Mayberry, Utley, Victorino, Ruiz is what I propose and here is why.
     Switch, right, right, left,right,left,switch, right. That is the first reason and it creates a real nice mix with LaRussa being the human rain delay of pitching changes late in games. Speed at the top, middle, and back end of the lineup. Rollins, Mayberry, and Victorino need to swipe bags. If Mayberry gets on, this creates a large hole on the left side for Utley to shoot for. Ruiz has proven to be a clutch performer who would see many fastballs, which he mashes, and could knock Shane in from second...and stay out of the DP. The move of Polanco to the 2 spot is also because he normally makes good contact and is a good bunter. Chase strikes out a lot and is a bad bunter.
      The playoffs are the second season. You have to change and adapt. Hit and run. Steal. Create runs. Play solid defense and rely on pitching. This is a must win. Maybe the first must win since being down to San Fran in last years playoffs..where the Phillies once again relied on the 3 run HR that never came. Cole will be Cole and put the Phillies in a position to win, the question is...will the Phillies rise to the occasion like they did in 2008 and 2009, or will they be on the outside looking in with questions as SS and closer plaguing their offseason wish list? Must win. Must win now.

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