An 83-win team is on the verge of going to the World Series. What does this mean for the 85-win Phillies?
There can be no doubt Phillies GM Pat Gillick will push all his chips to the center of the table this offseason instead of fold, the way it was indicated the day Bobby Abreu was traded. The Cardinals are about to represent the National League in the World Series, riding the wings of pitchers like Jeff Weaver, who may be the worst starting pitcher the Phillies faced all season.
In the annals of Major League history, the 2006 NLCS will be the hiccup that says good pitching doesn’t matter at all. The Cardinals are proving just that, getting by with just enough hits when they need them and stifling the bats of New York by executing every single play in the field. That’s no exaggeration. According to the guy who writes Metsblog, the Cards have retired all 31 batters to step to the plate with runners in scoring position and two outs during the 2006 post-season. Every time the Cardinals need a play, a pitch, a call, a hit, they’re getting it.
Meanwhile, New York’s stacked offense can’t generate timely hits, which is all any team should ever need against post-season pitching. Against Weaver and the Cards, all you need is a pulse, and the Mets are barely ticking. I know this because they appear unable to see baseballs hanging right over the plate. David Wright, who stranded three last night, has come up small and is 2-for-17 in the series, stranding eight men total.
The Mets have also, officially, run out of pitching. This was, officially, supposed to happen months ago, but they somehow endured. If the series goes to seven, Willie Randolph may actually hand the ball to Oliver Perez with Darren Oliver on standby. Shades of something the Phillies would have concocted back in June, back when Adam Bernero was considered a better pitcher than Perez. He still might be.
As for the Phillies, suddenly Brett Myers, Cole Hamels and Jon Lieber never looked so good.