The Phillies Are Officially The Team To Beat

Cole Hamels threw eight shutout innings as the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals to officially take over the NL East lead and make themselves the team to beat.

Jimmy Rollins predicted it in Spring Training and his words brought him a lot of derision in cities like Atlanta and New York. In the end though, Rollins may prove prophetic as the Phillies now own first place in the NL East. Rollins has put the Phillies on his back and has been leading the way to get them to the top of the division. He chipped in with two more RBI and another run scored Friday night in the Phillies 6-0 win over Washington. Rollins, who has started every game this season, also now has 709 at bats, setting a Major League record for at bats in a season.

The real bright spot to Friday night's win was Cole Hamels. The Phillies have eased Hamels back since he was on the DL, but turned him loose last night and he gave them eight shutout innings, striking out 13 hitters. Hamels not only proved that he's healthy and ready to contribute past the regular season, but his eight innings gave the Phillies bullpen much needed rest, which could be a key entering the weekend.

Adam Eaton (10-9, 6.33) gets the start Saturday and has historically struggled in the early innings this season. With the season winding down, it will be all-hands-on-deck for the Phillies pitching staff, meaning that even starters Kyle Lohse and Kyle Kendrick could be pressed into relief action if needed. Brett Myers had at least one day off and he may need it since it's not out of the question that he'll be called upon to pitch more than an inning at a time against the Nationals. There's no rest for the weary and Myers, J.C. Romero and other members of the Phillies bullpen could be stretched to the limit with the division title on the line.

Jamie Moyer, who has also struggled mightily at times this season, will get the start on Sunday. Of course, if all goes right, the Phillies will have clinched the division by then with a win Saturday combined with another loss by the Mets, who have already lost five straight.

As for their opponents, the Phillies will face Matt Chico (6-9, 4.75) Saturday. Chico has faced the Phillies just once this season and they hit him for four runs in 4.2 innings of work. Sunday, they face right-hander Jason Bergmann (6-5, 4.33), who has faced the Phillies four times this season and has a 3.48 ERA against them with no decisions.

While many times this season, Rollins spring predictions looked way out of line, entering the final weekend of the season, he's looking like a man who knows what he's talking about. Of course, he's been a key part of making his own prediction become reality.

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