The Phillies' starting rotation is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's baseball preview.
Not much of a surprise, but you might have been hoping to avoid the cover jinx.
It is the 24th time the Phillies have appeared on the cover — eighth most among MLB teams — and their second consecutive appearance on the MLB Preview.
Inside, SI the Phillies to win the NL East by four games over Atlanta with a 93-69 record but will fall to the Giants again in the NLCS.
Other Phillies predictions:
• Chase Utley is the NL East’s “Star in Decline”
• Best Case scenario: The offense rolls early; Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. or Ben Francisco flourishes in right; Phab Phour is as good as advertised; and there’s another Philly parade next fall.
• Worst Case scenario: Cole Hamels regresses to his 2009 form, Ryan Howard still can’t hit the breaking balls, and Chase Utley misses much of the season. Even that may not keep them from the postseason.
In addition, senior writer Gary Smith (formerly of the Daily News) profiled Philly’s five starting pitchers in The Legion of Arms, assigning each of them a superhero alter ego:
• Cliff Lee, aka Loose Laser: “Nearly saved the metropolis in 2009; he’s back to finish the job”
• Roy Halladay, aka Tunnelman: “Defeats hitters in a dark chamber, where his focus can’t be shaken”
• Roy Oswalt, aka Late Riser: “Bedazzles enemies with lightning bolts that elevate and explode”
• Cole Hamels, aka Kid Quantum: “Is able to bend time and distance with his bionic left arm”
• Joe Blanton, aka The Sidekick: “The mere mortal among the five, bolstered by his superfriends”
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