The Philadelphia Phillies have now officially clinched the National League East. This division title might be just the first major accomplishment for the team in 2011. Within the MLB standings this year, there were definitely a few oddities, but there weren’t many experts that thought the NL East would finish any differently.
With just 12 games to go in the regular season, a win by the Phillies over the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the East. That 98-52 record heading into Sunday night baseball on September 18 is the best in baseball. The New York Yankees (91-60) and Milwaukee Brewers (90-63) are the only other teams that have passed 90 wins this year. That’s quite a remarkable feat for the Phillies, and that pitching staff is going to be tough for any team to contend with this postseason.
Due to the National League winning the 2011 All-Star game, it looks like the Phillies will have home field advantage through the National League Playoffs and the World Series. That’s quite a big deal for the fans in Philadelphia, and it means that some great pitching will have just about every advantage that someone could have. Now though, the only way to fulfill this amazing season will be a World Series title, because teams that win a lot of games in the regular season don’t get any credit unless it is followed with postseason success.
It’s amazing just how good the starting pitchers have been for the Phillies this year. Saying they are “good” is seriously under-selling what the front end of the staff has been able to accomplish. Roy Halladay is 18-5 this season with a 2.34 ERA and 211 strikeouts in 219.2 innings. Cliff Lee has been just as good, posting a 16-7 record with a 2.38 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 219.2 innings. Then there is Cole Hamels, who could be a No 1 starter in many other cities, who has gone 14-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 199 innings.
Even with the deepest rotation in baseball, Philadelphia has been able to enjoy a great season from rookie Vance Worley as well. He has gone 11-2 with a 2.85 ERA in his first 20 starts this year. Combine that with all of the veteran hitting that this team has, and it becomes quite clear that the favorite to emerge from the National League will be Philadelphia this year. The team could compete with the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees in the World Series as well, showing that there might be a parade through the streets of Philadelphia this November.