So, what are the Phillies up against?
Philly is down 3-1. Phillies writer Todd Zolecki put that in perspective after the game last night by noting that six teams have overcome 3-1 deficits in the LCS since it went to seven games in 1985: The 1985 Royals, 1986 Red Sox, 1996 Braves, 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox and 2007 Red Sox. ESPN’s Jayson Stark expands on that sample a bit and notes that before this year 72 teams trailed 3 games to 1 in best-of-7 series overall. Of those, only 11 came back to win.
That’s rather daunting, statistically speaking, but I don’t know that the Phillies should be considered too great a longshot. At least compared to similarly situated teams. The common denominator of the LCS comebackers? Great pitching. The 2007 Red Sox and 1996 Braves allowed the fewest runs per game in their league. The 1985 Royals were second. The 2004 and 1986 Sox were towards the top. Only the Marlins -- overall -- had pedestrian pitching, but they all surged late and in the playoffs. Each team had a go-to starter or two who made everything better. The Phillies still have three of them.
I wouldn’t lay my life down on the notion of Philly coming back, but of any team in that situation, you have to feel the best about one that can run Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels out there.