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Bet the Under: Phillie Preview

Manager: Charlie Manual (35 - 24)

Current: The Phillies are in a bit of the doldrums. They have the best record in baseball, but have been struggling lately, going 5 - 5 over their last ten games. Just yesterday they broke a three game losing streak, foiling the Pirates attempt to sweep them in the inter-state series.  Chase Utley the baseball player is back playing second, but Chase Utley the hitter has yet to show up. The offense is no better then the Dodgers (both have a wRC of 90) but the rotation is oh so very good. As good as the Dodger rotation is, Doc is better then Clayton. Cliff Lee is better then Billingsley, Cole Hamels is oh so much better then Kuroda, and Roy Oswalt is better then Ted Lilly. With Garland we had them in the number five slot as Blanton was awful before hitting the DL twice. The Phillies lost Brad Lidge just as we lost Mr. Broxton. The Phillies lost Jose Contreras who had filled in nicely for Lidge, just as we lost Kuo. That is where it stopped, as Ryan Madsen stepped in and has been excellent in the role of closer.  They do not need much bullpen work, these guys pitch a long time.

Key Additions: Cliff Lee

Key Subtractions: Jayson Werth, Dobbs

Key Injuries: Lidge, Blanton

1st Base: Ryan Howard is Ryan Howard, overrated but still dangerous with a bat against RHP.

2nd Base: Chase Utley is back but so far his bat has not followed him. Currently posting an OPS of .666, he is the number of the beast. 

Shortstop: Rollins is hurt, not sure if he will play this series. If not, Wilson Valdez will get the nod. Jamey Carroll has been the fourth best offensive SS in the NL, Mr. Rollins is fifth. 

3rd Base: Placido Polanco continues to do what he does best, hit singles and play great defense. We should all be pleasantly surprised by who is on top of the FanGraphs Leaderboard in 3rd base offense.

Catcher: Dodger killer Carlos Ruiz is still here. For those who have forgotten, Mr. Ruiz boasts a NL career OPS best career line against the Dodgers of .981. 

Right Fielder: Top prospect Dominic Brown was given the job a few weeks ago and now leads this team in OPS+ with a 126 mark. The multi-talented Brown is doing his best to fill the void left by the uber-productive Werth.

Center Fielder: Shane Victorino was having his best offensive season before he went down with an injury on May 18th. He just came off the DL so the pest will be in CF for all three games.

Left Fielder: Ibanez endured an 0 - 35 streak early in the year but since the streak ended has posted an .913 OPS in 130 plate appearances. He is their hottest hitter.

Bench: Dobbs is gone, so Wilson Valdez, Ben Francisco, and John Mayberry are the main components.

Game One Stater: Cliff Lee may be playing second fiddle to Roy Halladay but we all know he's a legitimate ace. He has given up 10 runs in his last two starts but his peripherals are outstanding. He now has a 10.13 K rate with a miniscule walk rate. 

Game Two Starter: Roy Oswalt has a glimmering ERA of 2.70 even with a K rate that has fallen to a career low of 5.8. Oswalt has not given up more then two earned runs in his last four starts.

Game Three Starter: Cole Hamels is great. Nothing else to say.

Bullpen: Ryan Madsen finally grabbed the closer job by the horns and does not appear to be letting go. Jose Contreras has found a second life as a very successful setup man. I'm only going to talk about these two because, that is probably all this rotation will need.

MatchUps :

This starters trio should dominate a Dodger offense that had some fun against the Reds pitching. The Dodger rotation will need to do the same. These guys are stingy with their walks; if Loney gets on base more then twice in this three game series against the starting pitching, I'll be shocked. The highly anticipated matchup of Oswalt against Rubby should be the highlight of this series. Maybe Rubby can do for the Dodgers what Oswalt did for the Astros. When Oswalt made his debut start on 6/2/2001, almost exactly a decade ago, he did so after originally  pitching out of the bullpen, just as Rubby has done. The Astros would go on to win the Central Division that year behind the 14 - 3 record of Oswalt, whose electric stuff was just the shot in the arm the Astros needed.