Cain and Hamels will be looking to make big statements tonight. Hamels in particular has the favorable matchup at Houston.
I think Cole especially can make things pretty interesting down the stretch. Him and Dickey are the only pitchers in the National League who average more than 7 innings/game started. Going into tonight, he ranks 8th in the league in IP with only 27 GS (the leaders have 30, most of the other guys have 29). He has a little bit of work to do with his other numbers (3.03 ERA -- 8th, 1.119 WHIP -- 6th), no doubt, but the Phillies are gunning for that second wild card spot, and they'll be relying on their big guns to go deep into these last few games since their bullpen has proven to be...errr, shall we say, unreliable, at best?
Here's where Hamels lines up the rest of the way:
9/13 @ Houston (tonight)
9/19 @ NYM
9/26 vs. Washington
10/1 @ Washington
Those last two starts against the Nats certainly loom large, but if the Phils are still in striking distance of a playoff start at the end of September, I would expect that they do not hold Cole back as long as he's giving them quality innings.
Cain is looking very nice at this point as well, sitting at just a tick under 7 innings/game started. Going into tonight, he's 4th in the National League in innings pitched, 6th in ERA at 2.96 and 2nd in WHIP at 1.034. By most accounts, it looks like he has a slightly better overall profile than Hamels.
Here's how he lines up the rest of the way:
9/13 @ Arizona (tonight)
9/19 vs. Colorado
9/25 vs. Arizona
9/30 @ San Diego
So there's nobody coming up who makes me shake in my boots. With the Giants sitting fairly comfortably atop the NL West, you have to wonder if they might take the foot off the gas with Matt a little bit so he feels sharp for October? Why send him out there for 7 or 8 when he can give us 5 or 6 strong? I know we're only talking about 1-2 innings per game over the next four starts, but 7 or 8 innings of quality (or not so quality) ball could be what swings a few key numbers in one candidate's favor at the end of the year.
I still think both Cole and Matt have to make up a lot of ground against Clayton and R.A. Johnny needs to get back on track very quickly, as well.
Here's hoping for an exciting race down the stretch!