As we enter the stretch run of the season, despite having the best record in baseball, one has to wonder whether the Phillies will be able to maintain their lead over the Atlanta Braves. Certainly they have the advantage with a six game lead and pitchers like Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt and Worley, the surprise of this season for the Phils. However, Atlanta has demonstrated an amazing ability to stay right on their heels with a pretty good pitching staff of their own. Put that together with the fact that Atlanta will play the Phillies six more times before the end of the year, and one can see that they have little room for error. Put that together with losing a series to the Nationals and back to back losses to the Marlins and the Mets and one becomes a bit concerned. The Phillies really need to go on a winning streak and put the division out of reach or they may find themselves in the position of the Mets a few years ago when the Phillies overtook them in the final week of the season.
With their fifth series sweep of the season, the Phillies have widened their lead over the Braves and served notice that they are definitely as good as preseason reports indicated. Having added Hunter Pence to the roster only strengthens an already strong lineup to back a great pitching staff. Who would have believed that they would have a 68-39 record though with Oswalt, Blanton, Lidge, Contreras, Madson and Polanco all spending considerable time on the DL. Three rookie pitchers, Vance Worley, Michael Stutes, and Antonio Bastardo, have all played key roles in the Phillies success to date. With Hunter Pence adding right handed power and good fielding to an already fearsome left-handed group of hitters and the awe inspiring pitching of Halladay, Hamels and Lee, the Phillies should be difficult to catch in the remaining third of the season. Hopefully Oswalt will return shortly on top of his game and Worley will continue his fine work as a starter and possible rookie of the year candidate.