One down. Fourteen to go.
It’s do or die for the Phillies, and with Joe Blanton out in LaLa Land, Vance Worley on the shelf, and the minor league cupboard bare, it’s all on Tyler Cloyd to carry the Phillies near extinct playoff flame. There’s no more room for error, and now that the Phillies have solved R.A. Dickey, they can cruise through the rest of the series with a little help from their offense.
That is, if Cloyd and the bullpen will cooperate. Every fifth day or so, when Cloyd takes the mound, the Phillies will almost certainly have to dip into their bullpen for at least an inning or two. Tyler Cloyd has shown that he can strike out major league hitters, and doesn’t seem prone to walks, but as he makes his journey through the league his opponents will be feeling him out, taking a lot of pitches. Advantage Cloyd while he’s in the game; advantage opponent if they can get into the bullpen as early as possible.
The bullpen has sent Excedrin stock through the roof with all of the headaches it’s caused, and the formula for winning consistently has been the starter going 8-strong, then Jonathan Papelbon coming in to close out the game. Anytime the rest of the guys, from Chad Qualls to Phillippe Aumont, come into the game, the stomach knots start and Phillies fans watch the game with their hands over their eyes, only peeking out of curiosity.
For a while, the bullpen was awful. Terrible. Inconsistent.
Then, just as all hope was lost, Aumont, Diekman, Bastardo, and company started throwing flames and ignited the team.
But this past weekend the Astros took that flame and rocketed to a series win, in a four-game series no less and left the Phillies needing another spark.
Well, that spark came from Cliff Lee and his 10 strikeouts, and Jimmy Rollins speed/power combination. Now Tyler Cloyd takes the mound in the most important game of the Phillies season with a chance to put the hopes and dreams of a city onto the shoulders of the immortal, 2008 World Series hero, Cole Hamels.
Thus far, Cloyd has been a mixed bag. He’s gone 3 innings on short rest, 4 innings on regular rest, and 6 and 7 innings on regular rest. He’s given up 1 run over 7, and 3 runs over 3 innings. One thing has been consistent though, and that’s strikeouts.
The Phillies will have to hope that Cloyd can give them innings, and that the guys in the bullpen can bounce back from a terrible series that has sent the Phillies to the brink. No one is saying that the offense has been on fire, but 6 runs should be enough to win a game.
Now is the time for Tyler Cloyd.
Other games in the Wild Card picture
There’s no better time to root for the Nationals than now! They have 3 at home against the reeling Dodgers and may be able to send them away trailing the Phillies if all goes to plan.
The Brewers and Pirates play 3, so take your pick. Just hope that neither team, especially Milwaukee, can squeak out a sweep.
Were the Houston Astros and aberration, an anomaly, or are they going to seriously impact the postseason race. Let’s hope for the latter as they travel to St. Louis for the first of 6 against the Cardinals to round out their season.
And of course root for the Phillies to never lose again. Just remember, the Colorado Rockies won 14 out of 15 to end the year in 2007 to catapult them into the Postseason and eventually the World Series.