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Home Stretch

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Here it is, what we finally have been waiting for.  The last week of the season and a good chance of making the playoffs.  Baseball Prospectus has us over 50% with the combined losses by the Padres and the Mets.  It is a 6 game season and it all comes down to hard work, tenacity, focus and most of all luck.

Luck likely plays the biggest role in all of this (see Milton Bradley).  Many people will disagree, but, what can 6 games prove that 156 games couldn't?  Not much, other than who got lucky.  Don't get me wrong, luck isn't pure chance.  You certainly can influence your luck, but you just have to hope that all the cards drop your way.

Here are 5 things that you should be exicted about or worried about if you are a Phillies phan...

Excited:

  1. Home field- Doesn't matter how well you played at home during the year, there is a definite advantage to playing at home.  You can manage your staff much more dynamically as you already know what happened.
  2. Great offense- 1 person slumping won't kill you.  If Peavy has a bad game, that really hurt the Padres.  If Utley has a bad game, we still have Rollins, Howard, Burrell and Rowand.
  3. House money- Right now we control our own destiny and still have a shot at the division crown.  Always better to have 2 shots of making the playoffs than one.  If you don't lose, you are in.
  4. Play first- Less stress than when you already know the likely outcome of the game.  Padres and Rockies will know how the Phils games have come out.  If stress is, indeed a factor, this can only make it worse.
  5. Washington Nationals- The Padres end with 4 against the Brewers, the Rockies end with 3 against the Diamonbacks, and the Diamondbacks end with 3 against the Rockies.  Sure the Braves are going up against Houston and the Mets are up against Florida, but the Braves will be on the road and will hopefully be out of it by then and the Mets are just gravy if we already have the Wild Card.
Worried:
  1. Pitching- Yeah, it's obvious, but you never know what you are going to get from these guys.  Even Hamels is a question mark as he has been on a pitch count.
  2. Arizona's lead- Arizona has a 3 game lead and plays their next 3 against the Dodgers.  If the Dodgers can take at least 2 while the Phils take at least 2 against the Braves, then the Rockies series could mean nothing as the Phils could likely have a better record than either the Diamondbacks or the Rockies.  The problem is that lead might be too big to overcome.
  3. Burrell and Werth- Both have come down a bit from their August and early September surge.  We need our offense to continue to put up big numbers and these guys need to be central figures in it.
  4. Smoltz and Hudson- Phils are actually pretty good against these guys when compared to what the average team does.  The problem is that it still isn't great.  If these end up as losses, the Braves could actually be tied with us after the series (depending on how the Moyer/James game goes)  Not a fun thought.
  5. Philadelphia- Nothing goes right here.  Ever.
Overall, I like our chances better than any other team in the race.  Smoltz and Hudson will be a tough matchup, but the Phils have the offense and hopefully they can continue to play well.  The Padres got hit with a couple of big blows losing Cameron and Bradley and the Rockies still are a game back with a tough series with Arizona coming up.  If the Phils take 2 out of 3 from the Braves I think they'll be in excellent shape.