The old baseball axiom is that you want to finish hot down the stretch. The Cardinals, who stole the wild card from the Braves did just that, going 16-4 to close the season.
After clinching the NL East two weeks ago, the Phillies lost eight in a row. So, is it better to be on a serious roll going into the postseason or is it an advantage to clinch early, rest key players and set up your pitching?
“It’s good to start the playoffs hot; but if I had to choose, I would rather have guys rested,” Brad Lidge said. “Rest is very important, if you can get it.”
According to Lidge, it’s especially so for members of the bullpen.
“I should know about that,” Lidge said. “When you look at the Cardinals, everyone in their bullpen was used just about everyday for the last few weeks. So those guys will tire quickly. They also have a bunch of young guys in their bullpen, and they haven’t been to the playoffs before. When you look at us, our guys are rested and healthy — and believe me, that goes a long way.”
Considering how the Phillies ended the Braves’ season by sweeping their archrival in Atlanta, it’s apparent that Charlie Manuel’s squad isn’t afraid of the surging Cardinals.
“We have no fear,” Lidge said. “We’re not intimidated by any other team. We know the talent level we have. We know how good we are.”
Ace lefty Cliff Lee concurs with Lidge.
“This is a great team, Lee said. “It’s part of the reason I came back to Philadelphia. We’re not afraid of anyone. We just have to go out and play like we’re capable of and we’ll be fine.”