NLCS 2010: 10 Things To Watch For in The Phillies vs. Giants Series
Another day has come and gone, and still no baseball. We hear that there will be a National League Championship Series played soon, but we are beginning to have our doubts. The NLCS allegedly starts on Saturday. We'll see.
In the meantime, as we continue to prepare to watch baseball, here are some more things to think about ahead of Game 1.
A Battle of the Catchers
Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz led the Phillies in batting average, on-base percentage and intentional walks in 2010, while finishing second on the team in OPS+ and third in doubles.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey also led the Giants in batting average, while finishing third in RBI, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+.
In games in which Ruiz appeared for the Phillies, they were 31 games over .500, in a season in which they finished 32 games over .500 overall.
In games in which Posey appeared for the Giants, the team finished 16 games over .500, in a season in which their final record was 22 games over .500.
Posey's catcher's ERA was 3.18, on a team with an overall ERA of 3.36.
Ruiz's catcher's ERA was 3.31, on a team with an overall ERA of 3.68.
The success of these two teams is directly dependent upon the success of their catchers.
A Matchup Between Current and Former Cy Young Winners?
Game 1 of the NLCS will pit reigning (two-time) NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum against Roy Halladay, who almost certainly has been voted as the 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner (voting has already taken place and the results will be announced after the postseason).
The last time this happened was in 1991, when 1991 NL Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves faced off against 1990 NL Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Drabek won Game 1 at home, but then, strangely, Glavine and Drabek were both on the losing end of 1-0 nothing contests in Games 5 and 6, respectively.
The Braves ultimately prevailed in seven.
Before that, you have to go back to Game 1 of the 1986 NLCS, which featured 1986 NL Cy Young award winner Mike Scott throwing a 1-0 shutout against 1985 NL Cy Young Award winner Dwight Gooden in the series that ultimately sent the New York Mets to the World Series.
Will There Be a Pedro Feliz Sighting?
The Philadelphia Phillies made the last two World Series with Pedro Feliz on their roster.
The last time the San Francisco Giants made the World Series, in 2002, Pedro Feliz was on their roster.
Game 4 may feature a matchup between the Phillies' Joe Blanton and the Giants' Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner was born in 1989, the year the Giants went to the World Series and faced the Oakland Athletics.
Blanton was born in 1980, the year the Phillies went to the World Series and faced the Kansas City Royals.
Very Different Generations
Bruce Bochy is in his 16th year as a major league manager, having debuted with the San Diego Padres in 1995.
Charlie Manuel is in his ninth year as a major league manager, having debuted with the Cleveland Indians in 2000.
Manuel made his debut when he was 56 years old or, put another way, when he was one year older than Bochy is now.
In Bochy's final season as a player in the majors, his manager was Larry Bowa. Bowa made his debut as a player one year after Charlie Manuel.
Diamonds in the Rough
With two exceptions, this NLCS will be a testament to using high draft picks to select starting pitchers.
In Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Joe Blanton and Madison Bumgarner, this series will feature six starting pitchers who were selected between the 10th and the 25th picks of the opening round of their respective drafts.
But one matchup will be quite different—the Game 2 pairing features Roy Oswalt, who was taken in the 23rd round of the 1996 MLB draft, and Jonathan Sanchez, who was taken in the 27th round of the 2004 MLB draft.
Enjoying It While They Can
After a combined 25 major league seasons without sniffing the postseason, the Phillies' Mike Sweeney and the Giants' Aubrey Huff each made their postseason debut in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
Sweeney is relegated to role-player status with the Phillies, while Huff is starting for the Giants and had a good NLDS.
A 2005 Reunion?
The Phillies' Jose Contreras and Ross Gload were teammates with the Giants' Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand on the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox team.
In the World Series that year, they defeated the 2005 Houston Astros team that featured Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge.
May 6, 2007
The Giants' Tim Lincecum made his major league debut on May 6, 2007 against the Philadelphia Phillies in San Francisco.
His opposing pitcher that day was Cole Hamels.
Hamels went seven innings, striking out nine and allowing five runs, three of which were earned. Lincecum went four and one-third innings, allowing five earned runs on five hits, five walks, five strikeouts and two home runs.
Current Giant Pat Burrell, then a Phillie, walked four times, including three times from Lincecum.
Another current Giant/then Phillie, Aaron Rowand, went 0-for-4 with an RBI and a strikeout.
A second-year reliever by the name of Jonathan Sanchez pitched the ninth for the Giants, striking out Ryan Howard.
The Winner of Game 1 May Be The Winner of The Whole Thing
Since the MLB playoffs went to three rounds in 1995, the winner of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series has moved on to the World Series in 13 out of the last 15 years.
The Phillies are all too well aware of this factoid, having won Game 1 at home against the Dodgers in 2008, and then having won Game 1 on the road against the Dodgers in 2009.
The two teams that have survived despite losing Game 1 were the 2006 Cardinals, who advanced on Adam Wainwright's famous strikeout looking against Carlos Beltran in Game 7 against the Mets, and the 2005 Houston Astros, who advanced after beating the Cardinals in six games.