Braves Face Phillies In First Test

The Philadelphia Phillies are playing like their defending National League Champions. The pitching even looks better than it did last year and the hitting is looking good. But it is fitting that in the first series against the 7-5 Atlanta Braves, the Phillies face Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe.

As backwards as Bobby Cox has this pitching rotation, make no bones about it: This is equal to the best three-man rotation in baseball, if not one of the best. Lowe may not be deserving, but Jair Jurrjens does, despite a slow start to the 2010 season.

This series against the Phillies has some meaning, even as earlier as it is in the season.

Maybe this year, Bobby Cox has learned it might be best just not to even try to pitch to Ryan Howard.

If the Braves are seriously going to compete this year, then beating the Phillies is a must. These Phillies are the team to beat and this team is as good as any.

Jason Heyward has added an offensive boost to the Braves, but the team still lacks a real power bat, and Bobby Cox still insists on batting Heyward late on the lineup. Not only should Heyward be batting in the top 4 of the Braves batting order, Matt Diaz should be getting playing time over Nate McLouth.  There is absolutely no reason why neither move has taken place yet.

Cox has a history of being too faithful to his players. It is what I believe a check against him for his incredible coaching streak with the Braves. But this is his last year. This is all he’s got left.