The race for the National League East just got a lot more interesting.

The Philadelphia Phillies have had many struggles with their starting pitching this year. Roy Halladay has been beyond extraordinary for Philadelphia, but the reigning National League champs have had a hard time establishing a No. 2 starter for their rotation.

Now there is another Roy in the city of brotherly love and the Atlanta Braves aren’t going to love it. Roy Oswalt is now a Philadelphia Philly.

Just a few days ago, the Braves had a seven-game lead above the Phillies, the biggest in Major League Baseball. After a mini-slump by the Bravos and a seven-game winning streak by Philadelphia, that lead has dwindled down to three-and-a-half games.

Now that the Phillies have two of the best pitchers in baseball and suddenly one of the best rotations, with Halladay, Oswalt, and the surprisingly great Cole Hamels, the Braves may find that lead even smaller as the season rolls on.

However, this does not change the fact that the Braves are the favorites in the NL East. The Braves rotation may not have as many “aces” as the Phillies, but their rotation and bullpen are still much deeper, giving them the edge in the pitching department.

The Phillies still have major issues regarding their offense as well. Starting outfielder Shane Victorino was just placed on the disabled list early this week and Chase Utley is not set to return to the lineup until at least late August or early September. For now, top Phillies prospect Dominic Brown will play in Victorino’s spot, but replacing a player of Victorino’s caliber with any minor league prospect is still a huge loss.

The Braves will not face the Phillies again until late September in Philadelphia, so Braves fans do not have to worry about facing Oswalt until then. There is no doubt that Oswalt is a huge improvement for that Phillies starting rotation and he will certainly bring that club closer to winning their third consecutive pennant. Just not close enough.

The injuries and inconsistency of the Phillies bullpen and offense will be their downfall this season. With this trade, they will make the National League East race a lot more fun to watch and give the Braves a much bigger challenge, but the Braves are still a much deeper team in the offensive and pitching categories and they are still the team to beat in the Eastern division.

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