With Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt already under contract for the 2011 season. The Philadelphia Phillies swooped in and signed Cliff Lee to make an already good pitching staff great. From the first day of training camp, the Phillies were thought to be the top dog in the National League, the team that would represent the NL in the World Series. Philly fans are expecting nothing less than a parade in late October/early November down Broad St. So far no hand has matched the Phillies aces, as they STILL have the best record in baseball with a 87-46 mark. What the Phillies didn’t expect is that one of the aces would be in the NL Rookie of the Year conversation. Vance Worley has been nothing but spectacular filling the void left by an ailing Roy Oswalt and injured Joe Blanton. Worley has been so good, that most Philly fans I’ve talked to, or listened to on sports talk radio, want Worley to be the 4th starter for the Phillies when set their rotation up for the playoffs instead of Roy Oswalt. I have to say that I agree with the majority on this one. I realized that Oswalt has playoff/World Series experience, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. But my outlook is until Oswalt is pitching at a level to win games consistently, without having to worry about his health issues, Worley should be that 4th starter. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Worley has been a super reliable commodity compared to Oswalt this season. But Charlie Manuel loves his veteran players, and no doubtingly will be starting Raul Ibanez, and Roy Oswalt in the playoffs. Instead of younger talent like Vance Worley, and John Mayberry, who have proven when given the chance this year that they can produce.
Sorry about that, I got off on a little bit of a rant there. Back to the topic at hand: ACES. The Phillies have had the best record in baseball almost all season. I can’t remember off-hand the last time they didn’t have the best mark. Incase anyone has forgotten, the Phillies couldn’t hit worth anything the first couple months of this season. The first two weeks of the season, everyone was hitting. Ben Fransisco, Wilson Valdez, and Raul Ibanez seemed like they were going to step in and make all the questions about the line up go away. Then reality set in when those hot starts faded, and a slumping Rollins was hitting in different spots on a daily basis to make a spark. The loss of Jayson Werth in free agency, and Chase Utley to injury seemed like it could potentially bury the Phillies. But the aces would not be denied. If it took a 9 inning effort for the Phillies to win a 2-1 game, then that is what Halladay, Lee, and Hamels did. It wasn’t a fluke, or just because they are big name players that all three were named to the NL All-Star team in July. They carried, and will continue to carry this Philly squad for the rest regular season and through the playoffs. The bullpen aces shouldn’t be overlooked here either. Ryan Madsen, Antonio Bastardo, and Michael Stutes really stepped up and took over for injured Brad Lidge, and Jose Contreras various times throughout this season. With Madsen being anointed the full-time closer because he has been that dominant.
The Phillies seem to be a well oiled machine now. With Howard as the steady force in the middle of the line up all year, getting everyday players on the healthy side like Utley, Polanco, and Victorino, and the addition of Hunter Pence at the trade deadline, the Phillies are hitting like crazy. But it shouldn’t be forgotten or overlooked what has gotten the Phillies to this point in the season: Aces! If I were a betting man, I would be betting big on the team that has four of them to be riding down Broad street with another championship!