This year the NLDS could be interesting. The obvious favorite Chicago Cubs play the LA Dodgers in the NLDS and the Philadelphia Phillies play against the Milwaukee Brewers.
CUBS VS. DODGERS
The Cubs are a big favorite for obvious reasons. They easily had the best regular season in the whole National League. They had elite pitching and hitting. Their starting rotation includes Carlos Zambrano (130 so), Ted Lilly (17 wins), Ryan Dempster (ERA 2.96), Rich Harden (ERA 2.07), and Jason Marquis. They also have a solid bullpen anchored by closer Kerry Wood who is 34/40 in save opportunities. The Cubs also have a great offense including Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, and Alfonso Soriano.
Don't count the Dodger out though. Their ace is Derek Lowe (ERA 3.24). Another solid started for the Dodgers is Chad Billingsley (16 wins). Their 3rd starter is Hiroki Kuroda who is in his first Major League season. They have two capable closers in Takashi Saito and Johnathan Broxton. Their trade deadline deal to get Manny Ramirez has really helped their offensive production as Manny joined Angel Berroa in winning the NL West.
Don't be too surprised if the Dodgers win a game, or maybe too, but i don't at all see them winning the series against the Cubs. In game one, the Cubs will throw Ryan Dempster vs. Derek Lowe. I think the Cubs will win this game, but if the Dodgers can get to Dempster its anyone's game. I also think the Cubs will win game 2. If the Dodgers win a game, I don't think it will be until the 3rd game. They may win game 3 with their backs against the wall, trying to stay alive. They might even win game 4, if there is one, but i doubt it. It looks like the CHICAGO CUBS are going to move on to the NLCS.
PHILLIES VS. BREWERS
The NL East champion 92-70 Phillies are looking to rebound after last year's 3 and out vs. the Rockies. The first playoff experience for many of the Phillies young players should help them out, and the sweep should have them motivated to beat the Brewers...again. They are coming off a recent 4-game sweep of the Brewers in which they averaged 6.5 runs/gm. and allowed 2.5 runs/gm. The Phillies have a roster with great potential. Their ACE is Cole Hamels (ERA 3.09, 196 so). Their rotation is solid from 2-4 in Myers, Blanton, and old man Moyer. The fifth spot could be a question, however, with the most likely candidates being J.A. Happ and Kyle Kendrick. The Phillies have a high potential bullpen as well. It was the best through the first half of the season, although it had some struggles, especially the 8th inning, later in the season. Their bullpen includes J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, and Brad "Lights Out" Lidge (41/41 in save opportunities). The Phillies also have a powerful offense with the spark plug being lead-off man Jimmy Rollins. He is followed by Chase Utley, Jason Werth,possible MVP Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, and the flyin' Hawaiian, Shane Victorino.
The last day 1 game wild card winning Brewers actually made the playoffs after many people considered it to be over for them. They can win games just by their pitching. It seems like every time C.C. Sabathia pitches, it's an automatic win for the Brewers. They also have a good #2 in Ben Sheets, although he has been struggling lately. In 4 games started their game 1 pitcher, Yovani Gallardo has an ERA of only 1.88. Other possible starters are Manny Para, Dave Bush, and Jeff Suppan. In the bullpen they have Carlos Villanueva, Brian Shouse, and their finisher is Salomon Torres (28/35 sv. opp.) In the infield they have Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Russel Branyan. In the outfield they have Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, and Mike Cameron.
Game one will be a matchup between Cole Hamels of the Phillies, and Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers. I think the Phillies will win game 1 with their ace, Hamels on the mound. A big part of the series could be how Brett Myers pitches, who was the Phillies best pitcher for some time after being sent down to the minors, but has struggled in his last 2 outings. The Phillies are hoping he still has his confidence and can get any mechanical problems fixed during the playoffs. If he pitches up to potential, I see the Phillies winning that game as well, unless he is against C.C. Sabathia, who seems to almost always win. I don't think the Brewers will win one game except for when Sabathia pitches, but they could surprise me a little bit by winning a second game. I definitely see the PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES winning 3 games before the Brewers do, riding the hot bats of Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins.
It looks like its going to come down to the Cubs and Phillies in the NLDS, but who is going to the world series.....we'll just have to wait and see. But remember, it's not over 'til its over. Anything can happen in baseball and any team can win any game, so don't bet your soul or anything.
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