By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
About The Philadelphia Phillies:
In the NLDS, the Phillies were led by six players hitting above .300 in the series. Leading the charge were RF Jayson Werth (.357, two home runs) and Shane Victorino (.353, home run).
1B Ryan Howard led the team with 45 home runs in the regular season, but he is sporting a goose egg in that category, despite a .375 average and six RBIs this postseason.
P Cliff Lee, who has been a boon for the team in the regular season, is 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA in two postseason starts (Game One and Four of the NLDS). This means he won’t pitch until Game Three, but P Cole Hamels (0-1, 7.20 ERA) will get the start.
Closer Brad Lidge has bounced back in some eyes, earning two saves in two appearances, after blowing 11 during the regular season.
Manager Charlie Manuel used the same lineup in all four NLDS games, and while the team showed up, hitting a combine .296 with 20 runs and four home runs, one wonders if any adjustments will be made against the Dodgers.
About The Los Angeles Dodgers:
Winners of the NLDS by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers are led by some fascinating pitching. The entire staff gave up a mere six runs in three games, led by Vicente Padilla (four hits, four strikeouts, zero runs in the NLDS Game Three). Closer Jonathon Broxton recorded a save and four strikeouts in three appearances.
The Dodgers also boast a strong lineup, led by RF Andre Ethier’s all around performance (.500 BA, six hits, five runs, two doubles, one triple, two home runs, three RBIs). SS Rafael Furcal has contributed six hits in twelve at bats (.500 BA) with two RBIs, and CF Matt Kemp has a home run and two RBIs.
LF Manny Ramirez is still working out of his late season swoon, and had a .308 batting average with three doubles and two RBIs in the series.
About The Series:
The Phillies took last year’s NLCS in five games, and I don’t think the Dodgers are looking at a repeat performance here. They won the season series 4-3, but have not played each other since June.
Cole Hamels may have lost his first postseason start in the NLDS, but he has the Dodgers' number. Last season, he went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 13 strikeouts in the NLCS, and this season he gave up a mere one earned run in 16 innings, including a five hit shutout in Dodger Stadium.
Manny Ramirez will need to wake up if Los Angeles expects to win, and he did so in 2008, hitting .533 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
The mid-season acquisition of Relief Pitcher George Sherrill to the Dodgers from the Baltimore Orioles could be the X-Factor in this series. Since being traded, he has given up two runs and 19 hits in 30 appearances, and holds left handed hitters to a mere .163 career average.
The Dodgers will go with a four-man rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Vincente Padilla, Hiroki Kuroda, and Randy Wolf. The Philles have Hamels in game one and Cliff Lee in game three, but have not decided on the rest of their rotation.
Philadelphia won it in five last season, but it won’t be as easy this year. Both teams boast strong pitching and strong hitting, but even with their rotation confusion, the Phillies take it in seven games.