5 Reasons Philadelphia Phillies Will Beat San Francisco Giants in 2011 Playoffs
The Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants each have a victory in their three-game series with tonight being the rubber match.The Phillies are threatening to run away with the NL East en route to their fifth consecutive division championship.
The Giants had a rocky start to the year (again) but their pitching and defense are too good to not win the shaky NL West. The first game of this eagerly anticipated series featured two starting pitchers that will most likely not be in that role once the postseason begins (Zito will be left off the roster again) in Vance Worley and Barry Zito.
The guy who makes about $125 million less (Worley) dominated the world champion Giants, tossing his first-ever complete game. He allowed only three hits while the Phillies pounded four home runs.
The second game of the series seemed more like a postseason matchup with two of the best pitchers in baseball in Cole Hamels and Matt Cain battling and baffling opposing hitters. The Giants were able to squeak out two runs and win the game 2-1.
They used dynamic starting pitching, timely hitting that capitalizes on mistakes and a dominant bullpen to win the game. The Giants used that recipe to cook up some World Series rings in the Bay Area in 2010.
Don't fret, Philadelphia, as things will be much different this time around.
Here are five reasons why the Philadelphia Phillies will dominate a potential rematch against the San Francisco Giants this postseason.
5. No Buster Posey
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The San Francisco Giants lost their best position player before the All-Star break in Buster Posey when he broke his leg in a brutal collision at home plate. The Giants already had an anemic offense before Gerald Demp Posey (yes, his real name) went down, and sorry, but Eli Whiteside is hardly the answer.
In 2010, Posey hit .305 with 18 HRs and 67 RBI in just 108 games. This season he already had 21 RBI in 45 games before succumbing to season-ending surgery. Posey's right-handed bat that could hit for average and power was just what the doctor ordered in the middle of the Giants lineup.
And it will be just what the Giants are missing in the playoffs if they oppose the Philadelphia Phillies.
4. The Cliff Lee Factor
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Lee was the extra help that the Phillies needed to get back to the World Series for the second consecutive year. In the playoffs, Lee posted a ridiculous 4-0 record in five starts, had two complete games and an ERA of 1.56.
In five playoff games started, he pitched 40.1 innings, allowed just 27 hits and seven earned runs. So, for all of the Phillies (and Ruben Amaro) naysayers who claimed that the Phillies haven't won anything with Cliff Lee, it could be strongly argued that the Phillies would not have even made it back to the World Series without the Lee acquisition.
Lee was 2-0 in two starts against the New York Yankees in the World Series and forever endeared himself to the great fans of Philadelphia in the process.
Lee was quite simply their best player on the biggest of stages. The way he handled himself (and the Yankees lineup) was nothing short of masterful.
Whether it was the nonchalant, no-look catch of a pop-up, the behind-the-back snag of a line drive or the utter dominance Lee displayed in the biggest of stages against sports' most storied franchise (or all of the above), Cliff Lee has shown that he can get it done for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Lee may have only posted a 4-6 regular-season record with the Rangers, but he was back to his old dominating self in the postseason. Lee was 3-0 combined in the ALDS and ALCS before losing two starts to the Giants.
Lee will be the No. 2 starter for the Phillies this time around and not have the pressure of having to carry his team, even though he has shown that he can do just that. Lee chose to be back in Philadelphia because he believes that the fans of Philadelphia are the best in the world and they keep his adrenaline pumping at all times.
Phillies Nation should be confident that they have the best rotation in baseball, but Cliff Lee's time to shine is when the postseason begins. That is when he will truly earn the mammoth contract he received from the Phillies.
3. Stronger Bullpen Than Ever
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The San Francisco Giants bullpen may have been the difference in the 2010 NLCS (Cody Ross...) but the Philadelphia Phillies are even stronger (just how Ruben Amaro intended it, I'm sure) in the bullpen in 2011 than they were last year.
The emergence of Antonio Bastardo as one of the premier young relievers in the game can only help the Phillies in the playoffs. Bastardo has been lights-out all season long. He will be able to flip Carlos Beltran over to the right side of the plate where he is not nearly as effective.
Bastardo is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 39.0 IP thus far. In those 39 IP, he has only allowed a ridiculous 15 hits for a WHIP of 0.79. He has struck out 46 batters for a K/9 ratio of 10.62. Opponents are hitting just .116 against the young lefty with an OBP of .212.
Left-handed hitters have just a .136 average against Bastardo, but that is no left-handed specialist, as right-handed hitters are doing even worse with a .106 average.
Bastardo is not alone, as Mike Stutes (and his hair) has proven to be a reliable workhorse that isn't afraid to pitch in any situation. He is 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
Brad Lidge is back and it looks like he is able to throw his slider without his arm falling off, and Ryan Madson has been spectacular all season long. Don't forget that the "Vanimal" Vance Worley could be in the bullpen once the postseason rolls around as well.
The Phillies have more than enough capable arms in the bullpen this season to close out the Giants if Doc, Hamels or Lee need any help. They probably won't, but it's there if needed.
2. The Magic Has Worn off for San Francisco
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The 2010 San Francisco Giants were carried offensively in the postseason by Buster Posey, Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria and Pat Burrell. Only one of those five players (Ross) will be around for this postseason, and does anyone really expect a career .264 hitter to duplicate what he did in 2010? Anyone?
The Philadelphia Phillies will take the Halladay, Hamels, Lee, Oswalt vs. Cody Ross matchup any day of the week. The Giants of 2010 were a nice team that had players get hot at the right time. Pat Burrell may have been the biggest reason why the Giants even made the playoffs, as he hit homers at a clip not seen since his college days.
The Giants lineup today looks little like it did when they won the World Series just eight months ago. That squad of 2010 was a team of destiny and the losses that they have had to endure from last year's squad may mean that the magic has finally run out.
1. "All In" and Not Done Yet
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The Philadelphia Phillies have the best record in MLB and they also have one of the most feared GMs in baseball with Ruben Amaro. The Phillies have become the "giants" of baseball according to super-agent Scott Boras and many rival executives expect the Phillies to make another big splash at the trade deadline.
You can be assured that the Phillies will add a right-handed power hitter to this team before the trade deadline hits and that means only one thing for the National League and San Francisco Giants in particular: Be afraid, be very afraid.
Phillies Nation: Be prepared, be prepared for another parade down Broad Street, because the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies are "all in."