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THE PAYOFF PITCH ...
JOE LEMIRE
March 26, 2012
BEST CASE
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March 26, 2012

The Payoff Pitch ...

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BEST CASE

The rotation carries them in the first half, then Ryan Howard returns from his Achilles tear as good as new. The Phils win the World Series—and sign Cole Hamels to a long-term extension.

WORST CASE

Father Time wreaks havoc on the aging infield, and injury claims one of the three aces. A broken-down team watches the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

BEST CASE

Josh Johnson takes the Cy Young, Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes nabs the MVP, Giancarlo Stanton is the home run champ—and Marlins Park hosts a World Series in its inaugural year.

WORST CASE

Reyes pulls a hamstring, Johnson requires shoulder surgery, Ramirez sulks after struggling at third—and Marlins Park fails to attract fans, forcing a payroll slash in 2013.

BEST CASE

Jayson Werth, Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper each hit 30 HRs; Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann rival Philly's top three; the Nats win their first playoff berth.

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