Roy Halladay checked off the first of many boxes on Wednesday with his 1-0 playoff spot clincher against the Astros.
The next box -- the NL East crown -- should come in fairly short order. When it does, we can officially fix our gaze on October and the playoff run to come. Feel free to think about whether or not the Diamondbacks are riding some kind of wave of destiny that will crash over Phillie heads or go ahead and look forward to an NLCS against the team of your choice.
The Phillies won't have that luxury. There are still games left on the schedule and while they might not matter in terms of the standings, they do matter in terms of getting the team ready for that playoff run you've been waiting for since sometime in July. The list starts with the two guys expected back in the starting lineup for Thursday night's second game of the doubleheader with the Marlins.
Get Reps for Rollins and Utley
Neither infielder is in the lineup for the day half of the doubleheader, but the expectation is that Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley will both be ready to go in the nightcap. Over the next two weeks, the Phillies will need to get each of them enough reps to make sure that they are both healthy and in good form for the start of the postseason. That shouldn't be difficult. The difficult part comes next.
Make Sure Everyone's Healthy
This seems to be a bigger risk for Rollins than for Utley, but it something to keep in mind for both of them. A relapse of Rollins' groin injury would be a terrible development at this point in the season, which is why the team has been so conservative about returning him to a full role in the lineup. Keeping Utley from another concussion is up to the fates more than the Phils, but he and the rest of the regulars should also get enough rest to assure they are 100 percent for the playoffs.
Set Up the Rotation
There's not much work to be done on this front. As of right now, the Phillies rotation sets up perfectly for a Halladay-Cliff Lee-Cole Hamels-Roy Oswalt (we assume, although it works just as well for Vance Worley) order in the first round. Weather is the only thing that could throw that off, but there's not much reason to expect the Phillies would let that happen.
Figure Out the Back of the Roster
The usual eight starting position players will make it, so will Brian Schneider and John Mayberry. The five starting pitchers are sure things along with Ryan Madson, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes and Brad Lidge. Michael Martinez and Wilson Valdez are probably redundant, but the team has kept each and the health questions of the infield make both good bets. Ben Francisco and Ross Gload will be there as pinch hitters, which leaves two spots. One will definitely go to a pitcher, either David Herndon or Kyle Kendrick, and the other will likely go to a bench player. You'd have to guess it is John Bowker based on the fact that they traded for him, but it wouldn't be shocking to see them hold onto both pitchers.