Thursday, October 06, 2011

Not A Lock

The acquisition of Roy Oswalt at last year's trade deadline was seen as a major deal, adding a third ace to the Phillies rotation as the team sought a third straight appearance in the World Series.

The reality fell short of the expectations.

This year Oswalt was projected as the fourth starter in the Phils' Four Aces rotation. Due to injuries and perhaps some outside issues (concerns about his home and family), Oswalt was really the fifth starter, behind Vance Worley. Prior to the post-season there was serious discussion regarding which of the two of them would go to the bullpen. In the end it was decided the veteran, heretofore successful in the post-season, would get the nod.

Last night Oswalt pitched like a back of the rotation guy. He was being counted on to close out the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the NLDS and he failed to do so despite being handed a two-run lead in the first inning.

Of course the blame isn't all his. The Phils scored those two early runs and then fell asleep. Chase Utley, normally an aggressive but smart base-runner, killed a rally when he tried to go from first to third on a ground ball to short. It was a stupid play and it cost his team a chance to pull even or go ahead when trailing 3-2. But let's not blame Utley and Oswalt entirely. The Phillies simply stopped hitting...again!

When the final chapter is written for this club, chances are the what-ifs will begin with their offensive inconsistency. The simple truth is this team does not have a reliable offense. Look at the heart of their order. Can you examine it strikes fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers? And whatever bullpen issues affect them, and there certainly are several, they normally fail when they stop hitting, which is too often. In this series their runs have come in a very few bunches, punctuated by lots of 1-2-3 innings of ineptitude.

They return home for the final game of the series relying on Doc Halladay, the CBP adoring crowd and a feeble offense to get them to the next level. It isn't a lock by a long stretch.

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