Things are looking good for sports fans in the City of Brotherly Love.
With the NFL season upon us, the Eagles are many experts' favorites to win the Super Bowl with their dream team.
The Phillies might be in even better shape to win a title. Running away with the NL East, the Phillies are coming off a division sweep of rivals Atlanta at Citizens Bank Park.
Charlie Manuel's squad now heads to Milwaukee for a four-game series against a Brewers club that is almost certain to the make the postseason. It will be an interesting test for the Phillies, and a series that will be examined in October should the two clubs meet.
No matter what the series outcome is in Milwaukee, Philadelphia should easily surpass 100 wins this season, and go into the playoffs with reason to be confident thanks to solid output from every area, and a key move before the trade deadline.
Charles Barkley, the outspoken basketball broadcaster and NBA legend, follows the Phillies closesly, and remarked as a guest commentator that the Phillies needed an extra bat if they expected to go deep in the playoffs. Well, Sir Charles got what he wanted, when the Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled off a traded with Houston to bring in outfielder Hunter Pence.
Since joining the Phillies, Pence has been exceptional, leading the team in OPS (.908) in 125 at-bats. He may not reach a season total of 25 home runs as he did the previous three seasons, but Pence continues to hit the ball hard, and is the No. 5 hitter in the lineup that Charlie Manuel needed.
Overall, the Phillies are third in in National League in runs-per-game average, but are ahead of all playoff-bound clubs in the category. Moreover, with Pence in the lineup and Chase Utley playing full time since his knee surgery, the Phillies offense is an upgrade from the early part of the season.
When October rolls around, Manuel will have an embarrassment of riches in the starting rotation.
There is no playoff-bound team that can boast both star power and depth in the starting rotation like Philadelphia. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels are certain to be the first three starters in the postseason rotation. The last starter will likely come down to how well Roy Oswalt and Vance Worley are pitching.
Worley's earned run average (2.85) is significantly better than Oswalt's (3.72) over roughly the same amount of innings this season, but Manuel may choose Oswalt should the veteran outperform Worley in September, or if they are at least putting up similar numbers.
The one club that could have challenged the Phillies' rotation as the best amongst expected playoff clubs was San Francisco. The Giants are currently seven games back of Arizona, and it might be hard for San Francisco to climb in the NL West race with the worst offense in the Majors.
The postseason rotation is so strong that the Phillies' solid bullpen may be inconsequential. Ryan Madson, Antonio Bastardo, Brad Lidge, Kyle Kendrick, Michael Stutes, and whichever starter misses out on the four-man rotation, are all more than serviceable taking the mound in late innings.
This all leaves Charlie Manuel in an enviable position. After the series with the Brewers, he can spend September examining the roster and finding areas for improvement in places like the bench.
Postseason opponents should be very worried about the Phillies. Not only is the club loaded with talent, and on the upswing, they will be rested and well-prepared going into October.
Soak in it Philadelphia -- it's a good time to be a sports fan.