Dodgers-Phillies: NLCS Preview

Thomas H.Correspondent IOctober 6, 2008

The biggest story in the playoffs has easily been the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers beat the seemingly invincible Chicago Cubs. This is the team that was supposed to win for the first time in 100 years. This was the team that seemed to be a All Star squad on its own.

But two things went wrong for them.

The Cubs had an amazing amount of errors, and they forgot about someone named Manny Ramirez, who had two home runs in three RBI. This led to a 3-0 sweep in the National League Divisional Series.

The Phillies came in on a equal level with the Milwaukee Brewers. They had home-field advantage though, which kicked off their series. They took the first two, thanks to good pitching from Cole Hamels and Brett Myers, giving up three runs in two games.

The third game, the Brewers used their home-field advantage to get a win, as Moyer and the bullpen gave up four runs and the Phillies could only manage one. They saw what could happen though and took Game Four to win the series 3-1 and advance to play the Dodgers.

Let's look at the offenses.

Philadelphia has an explosive offense that hits home runs left and right. The one-through-six spots in their order all have power, including two previous MVPs and two nominees for MVP this year (Chase Utley and Ryan Howard).

They include one of the most underrated 30-home-run hitters in the game in Pat Burrell. Ryan Howard almost hit 50 long balls this year, and Jimmy Rollins was last year's top player. Personally, I am a Werth fan.

Not to mention that this team can finish the season, taking their division with a comeback in September two years in a row.

They have pitching that isn't as dominant. Cole Hamels is a solid pitcher when he is needed and is their ace in the rotation. I don't know if he can contain the offensive force of Los Angeles, but we will see.

Joe Blanton picked up his game when he got to Philadelphia and is the No 2 man. He did well in the NLDS and has had success late in the season.  

Moyer finished the season well and was 16-7. He lost the Game Three though, and that might do something in his head after seeing everyone else in the rotation win.

The Dodgers have a good team that had success in the late season. They snuck up on Arizona and then took over the N.L. West.

How did this turnaround happen? Manny Ramirez. He came, he crushed. His 17 home runs since joining the Dodgers on Aug. 1 trail only Howard's 18. He drove in go-ahead runs, tied games late, and turned around the season by himself.

The NLDS was all him, as he hit two home runs and knocked in three runs. Look for him to demolish a decent Phillies pitching squad.

Ethier has been doing well, and Jeff Kent has been a great veteran for the team. Russell Martin has been a good catcher in a new era at his position and is solid at the dish. Matt Kemp had a good year as well, and Pierre is fast enough to regularly turn a single into an extra-base hit. Their offense crushed a strong Cubbies rotation, and I see no mercy from them.

Derek Lowe picked it up after a losing season last year, and here he is as a winning pitcher. Billingsley got 16 wins this season and over 200 strikeouts in only his second full season at the major-league level. His ERA has been good, and he is 5-1 in his last 10 regular-season games.

Kuroda ends the three-man playoff rotation, but he is less of a machine. He went 6.1 innings in Game Three against the Cubs and didn't give up a single run. He must be feeling good right now and has a good chance with the Phils.

Let's face the facts. The Dodgers are hot right now, and the Phillies were less dominant in the last series than they could have been. The Dodgers easy take down of the Cubs made a statement that this year they are for real. I just don't see how L.A. could not beat a team like the Phillies.

They will split the first two in Phillies territory, but then the Dodgers will take them down when they are home. Phillies will probably get one there, but Dodgers will finish them off.

SERIES: Dodgers beat Phillies in series, 4-2


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