One of three teams is going to show up at Citizens Bank Park for Game 1 of the National League division series Saturday against the Phillies.
The team the Phillies should want to see the most is the only one of the three that had a winning record against them this season and is currently the hottest of all the contenders.
The St. Louis Cardinals went into their final three games of the season at Houston having won 14 of 18 games to pull within one game of Atlanta in the N.L. wildcard standings. They recently took three of four games from the Phillies in Philadelphia and now have Matt Holliday back in their dangerous lineup.
All of that may sound threatening, but there is one simple reason the Phillies should be cheering for the Cardinals to overtake the Braves for the wildcard: pitching.
Which team should the Phillies want to play in the first round of the playoffs?
Should the Cardinals finish off their remarkable climb back from 10 1/2 games behind the Braves to win the wildcard, they will have to use Chris Carpenter in Wednesday's season finale to get the job done.
In the best-case scenario for the Phillies, the Cardinals and Braves would play a one-game playoff Thursday in St. Louis with Kyle Lohse pitching and beating Atlanta.
If that were to happen, the Cardinals would likely pitch Jaime Garcia in Game 1 and either Jake Westbrook or Edwin Jackson in Game 2. Garcia has a career 1.20 ERA in six games (four starts) against the Phillies, but you still have to like Halladay at home in that Game 1 matchup.
The Cardinals would certainly prefer to use Carpenter or Lohse in Game 2 and would be at a distinct disadvantage with Westbrook or Jackson going against Lee.
Win the first two games at home and they should be able to finish off the series in St. Louis.
The other reason the Phillies should want to face the Cardinals is the St. Louis bullpen is the worst among the playoff contenders and that usually proves to be important in tight postseason games.
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