If my Twitter timeline is to be trusted, and with hundreds of Phillies fans, it usually can be, then there remains a great deal of baseball interest among that fan base despite a 4th consecutive season out of the playoffs for the Fightins.
A number of ex-Phillies players are participating in this year’s MLB postseason, and that includes a handful of the 2008 World Series championship team.
As most everyone is already aware, both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are now in the NLDS with the Los Angeles Dodgers. JRoll played 15 seasons in a Phillies uniform, Utley played parts of 13 seasons in red pinstripes. They were the starting MIF together in Philly for over a decade.
They are taking on the New York Mets, whose starting catcher is Travis d’Arnaud, the Phils’ 1st round pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. He was dealt to Toronto as part of the package for Roy Halladay in December of 2009.
The Dodgers knew they were acquiring older players who had their best years in the rear-view mirror when they took on Jimmy and Chase. But they got those players specifically for October play, hoping their long, winning experience would help get the team over the top in postseason play. That kind of tough, no-fear play was on display yesterday, when Utley’s key play accounted for a pair of difference-making runs in evening the series.
Over in the American League, the Texas Rangers hold a 2-0 lead in their ALDS with the powerful Toronto Blue Jays. One of the Texas keys has been former Phillies’ ace lefty Cole Hamels, dealt to the Rangers at the trade deadline for a 5-player package.
Hamels pitched for the Phillies for parts of 10 seasons before being dealt as a key piece to the current rebuilding process. He was 7-1 down the stretch for Texas, with a 78/23 K:BB ratio over 83.2 innings in which he allowed just 77 hits. Hamels got a no-decision in Texas’ huge Game 2 win on Friday.
Jake Diekman went with Hamels in that Texas trade, and he really got his act together with the Rangers. In 26 games with Texas over the final two months, Diekman recorded 10 Holds with a 2.08 ERA and .169 batting average against. In 21.2 innings he allowed just 13 hits, with a 20/7 K:BB ratio. He has pitched 2 innings in both LDS games, allowing no baserunners.
The Blue Jays have Ben Revere in left field. Revere hit .319 with a .354 on-base percentage in his two months with the Jays since his own trade deadline deal. In the 56 games that he played with Toronto, Revere scored 35 runs and stole 7 bags. Thus far, in his first postseason experience, he has gone 3-10 with a run scored and an RBI.
In the other ALDS, the Astros have righty Chad Qualls in their pen. Qualls spent 35 largely ineffective games with the disappointing 2012 Phillies. They also have Jonathan Villar, signed by the Phils out of the Dominican Republic back in 2008 and traded to Houston as part of the Roy Oswalt deal in 2010.
Playing a more important role in that ALDS should be the lone Royals ex-Phil, and along with Hamels, Utley and Rollins, the only other 2008 World Series hero left in action. That would be reliever Ryan Madson, who made an amazing comeback this season.
Madson, who hadn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since leaving the Phillies following the 2011 season, signed with both the Reds and Angels as a free agent. But injuries kept him from returning, and appeared to be ending his career.
But the Phillies’ 9th round pick in the 1998 MLB Amateur Draft got it back together with the Royals this year, and has been better than ever out of their pen. In 63.1 innings across 68 games, Madson allowed just 47 hits with a 2.13 ERA, 0.963 WHIP, and a 58/14 K:BB ratio.
How crazy would it be for Phillies fans to watch a key World Series game in a couple of weeks where Utley and/or Rollins steps into the box in a key moment against either Hamels or Madson? Now that would blow up Philly-area Twitter for sure.