There are many storylines as the postseason begins, the most obvious being the Philadelphia Phillies’ quest to repeat.
With apologies to the other sports, there’s nothing better than the baseball postseason. Here is a quick look at each National League Division Series with some predictions.
St. Louis vs. Los Angeles
Are the Cardinals’ stars (Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols, Matt Holiday) enough to take them all the way? Can the Dodgers play now like they did in the first four months of the season?
Between Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers have the best offensive outfield in the game. Their lineup balance is great.
Their pitching is suspect, but they start two lefties (Randy Wolf, Clayton Kershaw), and the Cardinals don’t match up well against left-handed pitching (.233 average vs. left-handed pitching).
In this series especially, the Cardinals will go as far as Wainwright and Carpenter, their two Cy Young candidates, take them. Pujols and Holiday don’t get a lot of lineup support, and the Cardinals’ bullpen is anchored by Ryan Franklin, who isn’t playoff-tested.
If the Cardinals don’t win the first two games, they fall back on Joel Pinero and John Smoltz, and the overall matchups swing completely back into the Dodgers’ favor. I’ll take the Dodgers in four.
Colorado vs. Philadelphia
The Phillies have a great lineup, albeit one that is lefty-heavy. Of all the National League teams, the Phillies are the most like an American League team in the way they play (wait for the big inning, draw walks, hit for power), which should make them the favorites to advance to a second straight World Series.
However, they are vulnerable in close contests. Brad Lidge went from spectacular in 2008 to spectacularly awful in 2009, and his struggles have shifted everyone else’s roles in the Phillies’ bullpen. Cole Hamels was lit up in his only start against the Rockies this year. Cliff Lee hasn’t been sharp in the last month or so.
The Rockies are not as deep or talented as the Phillies. Troy Tulowitzki has emerged as Colorado’s best hitter, and he needs to carry the Rockies against the Phillies’ left-handed starting pitchers.
The Rockies’ starting pitching begins with Ubaldo Jiminez, who had a 2.25 ERA in three starts during the 2007 postseason.
The rest of the Rockies’ lineup is not imposing, and the remainder of the Rockies’ starting rotation is not intimidating to opposing hitters. Also, outside of Huston Street, the Rockies’ bullpen is not outstanding by any means.
One quiet strength of the Rockies is their defense, which has helped their otherwise average starting pitching to post some solid numbers throughout the season. In Coors Field especially, the Rockies’ defense could help limit what the Phillies can do offensively.
However, if the Rockies’ only real advantage over the Phillies is their defense, then it stands to reason that the Phils should be favored. I see Philadelphia winning in four games.
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