Playoff Preview Part Two: Phillies vs. Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers squeaked into the playoffs this year. It's hard to imagine CC Sabathia squeaking by anything, but he and his Brewers did—although they wouldn't have even touched the playoffs if it weren't for CC and some big bats.
The Phillies didn't get in too comfortably either, but luckily they play in the same division as the New York Mets, so they may not have ever been too worried. Regardless, they are a team to reckoned with. With Cole Hamels at the front and Brad Lidge at the end of the pitching staff, along with a few very large bats in the lineup, the Phillies won't go down easy.
Which team will make it out of this first-round slugfest? Let's find out.
Record: 90-72.....4.64 RS/G.....4.25 RA/G
Team OBP .325.....Team SLG .431.....Team BA .253
Team ERA 3.85.....45/71 SV/SVO.....Team WHIP 1.33
The Milwaukee Brewers, as I said earlier, just squeaked into the playoffs on the last day of the season.
Let's examine why.
Their middle of the order is stacked, Braun and Fielder are two of the best power hitters in the N.L. So it probably wasn't that.
CC Sabathia has been the best pitcher in the N.L. since coming over from Cleveland. He has pitched twice in a row on three day's rest just to get them into the playoffs. This guy is determined to get the Brew Crew as far as he can.
Yovani Gallardo will be going in Game One, and he only pitched four games but has a 1.88 ERA with 20 SO and 8 BB in 22 innings. Those two probably won't be a problem.
What are the Brewers' problems then?
Well, for one, Ben Sheets' status is unknown. As well as Gallardo pitched in limited action, Sheets would be the preferable choice to start Game One. And now the Brewers really don't have a great third option at pitcher. Dave Bush's ERA is over a point and a half lower at home than it is on the road, so maybe he can go in Game Three.
The Brewers' biggest pitching problem though? The bullpen. It is horrendous. They don't have a closer, and the Brewers love to let teams come back. So the big question is, who will close games for them? They won't be blowing that Phillies lineup out, so most of the games will be close.
One other problem with the Brewers? Getting on base. The Brewers rank 21st in the MLB in OBP. Braun and Fielder aren't going to be driving in too many runs when no one is on base in front of them. The Brewers are going to have to find ways to get on base if they want to beat the Phillies.
Record: 92-70.....4.94 RS/G.....4.20 RA/G
Team OBP .332.....Team SLG .438.....Team BA .255
3.88 Team ERA.....47/62 SV/SVO.....Team WHIP 1.36
The Phillies might be the most overlooked playoff team in the NL this year. That is not to say that they don't get plenty of press (because they do), but compared to the Cubs, Manny and the Dodgers, and C.C. and the Brewers, the Phillies don't seem to get a lot of attention.
It doesn't help that the Rockies swept them out of the first round last year either. Philadelphia seems like something of an after thought.
Well they most certainly should not be. This team has the best closer in the N.L. Brad Lidge has been lights out. He has definitely gotten over that nightmarish homer he gave up to Albert Pujols a few years ago. Brad Lidge will not be giving up any leads this year in the postseason.
The Phillies' lineup is also quite formidable. Chase Utley won't be continuing their recent tradition of MVP's but between him, Howard, Burrell, and Rollins, the Phillies will be raking this series.
The Phillies' main problem is depth in their starting rotation. After Cole Hamels, the talent drops off, quickly. Jamie Moyer is a solid veteran that had a decent year (3.71 ERA), and he won't have to pitch the whole game due to the fact that the Philly bullpen can get the job done.
Still, I'm not sold on Moyer as the second starter in their playoff rotation and their third guy, Brett Myers, eh not so good.
Cole Hamels- I can give stats for him, but straight up, this guy needs to take Game One. He is their best pitcher, and the Phils don't want to get in a hole early with their lack of pitching depth.
Ryan Howard- He's normally a great power hitter with little else to offer, BUT this September, he hit .352 and had a .422 OBP.
C.C. Sabathia- Um...he has been unbelievable in the N.L. He needs to keep dominating.
The Bullpen- They need to be serviceable. No one wins in the playoffs when they blow saves.
Who Will Win...
The Phillies starting depth is a problem; the Brewers bullpen is a problem. Both teams can hit...a lot. I'm going to go ahead and say though that a team without a bullpen won't win in the postseason. Lidge and the Phils take this series in four.
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