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Phillies Magic Number is Really One


Everyone keeps talking about the magic number for the Phillies to clinch their third consecutive division title.

However, the only thing that should really matter right now is the number one seed in the playoffs. The Phillies are the second seed right now and are 2 games behind the Dodgers for the top spot. If the season ended today, the Phillies would get to play the Wild Card winner, which is currently a dog fight between the Rockies and the Giants. And while staying where they are would get them this matchup and have the Dodgers and Cardinals beat each other up, getting the first seed would give the Phils some margin of error if they hit another rough patch in the last few series that they have to play.

In saying this, the team STILL has some real questions it has to answer. Can J.C. Romero come back this season? Will Scott Eyre be able to pitch? How bad is Chan-Ho Park's hamstring? Who is going to close out games? Will J.A. Happ be able to go? How banged up is Carlos Ruiz? Does Pedro Martinez have "just" a stiff neck? And finally, it seems that Ryan Howard now has a bulls eye on his right arm.

In the remaining series, the Phillies cannot lift off the throttle. The team has to play tough as the starting rotation continues to become large red wall that other teams have to deal with. They have been going deeper into games, and one incredible start has started to blend into yet another incredible start. The Phillies have the best starting staff in the National League and one of the best starting staffs of the teams going into the playoffs. Cliff Lee has shaken off his couple rough starts and is back in form, Cole Hamels has control of his curve and teams cannot sit on his fastball or change up anymore. This couldn't have happened at a better time, Joe Blanton continues to be a consistent rock in the staff, and with the exception of last night, Pedro Martinez has apparently found the fountain of youth somewhere in the Dominican Republic. Martinez has been dominant, and this is something most people (myself included) didn't see coming.

The one great thing about this staff is they have the talent and desire to just say to the bullpen, "Its ok,we got this," and pitch 9 strong innings. The other plus with this staff is we have an embarrassment of riches. With Jaime Moyer in long relief, we will probably end up putting a very good Happ in the pen to be one of our strong left handed pitchers the pen deperately needs. And having our starting staff go deeper into games can help allow the Phillies to keep the bullpen in one piece at the same time. The pen has been held together with duct tape and is springing a leak or two, but they just keep going and for the most part getting the outs they need. Don't think of it as nerve wracking, think of it as adding a little excitement to the end of a game. With the offense this team has and the starting staff the Phillies have, I see no reason why they can't win another pennant and make a push for another World Series title if they can just keep the pen together.

And this all starts with putting a ball in Chipper's ear hole on his helmet. The Braves have hit Howard two nights in a row and this would send a message to the league that if you throw at him, the Phillies will come back with a vengeance.