The National League playoff matchups weren't sealed with something quite as dramatic as a walk-off home run, but they were definitely decided amidst plenty of drama.
All we knew heading into the final day of the season was that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to be the top seed in the National League playoffs. It took a handful of games and no small amount of craziness to figure out the rest.
But the picture is all clear now, so let's take a look at what we can expect two see in the two National League Division Series.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies
| Game 1 || Cardinals at Phillies || Saturday, Oct. 1 ||5:00 p.m.|
| Game 2 || Cardinals at Phillies || Sunday, Oct. 2 ||8:00 p.m.|
| Game 3 || Phillies at Cardinals || Tuesday, Oct. 4 ||TBD|
| Game 4* || Phillies at Cardinals || Wednesday, Oct. 5 ||TBD|
| Game 5* || Cardinals at Phillies || Friday, Oct. 7 ||TBD|
Watch: all games on TBS
Cardinals Pitching Report
The Cardinals' pitching was not as strong in 2011 as it has been in years past, but they actually ended up with a very decent team ERA of 3.76.
Besides which, the Cardinals still have one of the best pitchers in the National League in their rotation in Chris Carpenter. He pitched a complete game shutout to propel them into the playoffs, and he finished the year with a respectable 3.45 ERA.
Carpenter won't start Game 1 against the Phillies, though. Exactly who will is a mystery until further notice.
Phillies Pitching Report
The Phillies assembled a rotation that was supposed to be the best in the league in 2011, and it was. The Phillies led all of baseball with a team ERA of 3.02, and their 18 complete games and 21 shutouts were also tops in the majors.
According to the Sporting News, Roy Halladay will start Game 1. The last time he started Game 1 of the NLDS, he threw a no-hitter. After him, it will likely be Cliff Lee in Game 2 and Cole Hamels in Game 3.
Yup, it's a good rotation.
Cardinals Hitting Report
The Cardinals wouldn't seem to have a particularly strong lineup, but they actually led the National League in runs scored. The three-headed monster of Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman definitely helped in that regard but don't overlook Yadier Molina and his team-best .305 batting average.
Make no mistake, this is not a lineup that is going to make it easy for the Phillies' sent-from-the-heavens rotation.
Phillies Hitting Report
We're used to the Phillies scoring runs in bunches, but that's something they didn't do this year. They finished eighth in the National League with 711 runs scored and ninth with a team batting average of .253.
Nevertheless, you still have to fear guys like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. When it comes to the playoffs, 2011 will not be their first rodeo.
Who Must Step Up for Cardinals?
It has to be Carpenter. I don't know which game he's going to start and where, but he needs to put forth more efforts like the one he gave the Cardinals in game No. 162. That's the ace they need him to be, and they need at least one ace to contend with all of Philly's aces.
Who Must Step Up for Phillies?
I think it has to be Ryan Howard. His days of dominating the competition seem to have slipped into memory, and you're already hearing people accuse him of being an overrated fraud. He needs to show everyone he's still got it by putting the Phillies on his broad back.
I want to give the Cardinals a chance, but have you seen Philly's rotation?
Phillies in 4
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers
| Game 1 || Diamondbacks at Brewers || Saturday, Oct. 1 ||2:00 p.m.|
| Game 2 ||Diamondbacks at Brewers|| Sunday, Oct. 2 ||4:30 p.m.|
| Game 3 || Brewers at Diamondbacks || Tuesday, Oct. 4 ||TBD|
| Game 4* || Brewers at Diamondbacks || Wednesday, Oct. 5 ||TBD|
| Game 5* || Diamondbacks at Brewers || Friday, Oct. 7 ||TBD|
Watch: all games on TBS
Diamondbacks Pitching Report
Overall, the Diamondbacks finished with pretty modest pitching totals in 2011, as they finished ninth in the National League with an era of 3.78.
However, one thing that's easy to overlook is the fact that the Diamondbacks finished with 90 quality starts, a figure that tied them for fifth in the NL. And when you think about it, the very phrase "quality start" pretty well sums up Arizona's starting staff.
Of the bunch, Ian Kennedy is easily the best, as he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA this season. Daniel Hudson is no slouch either, as he went 16-12 with a 3.49 ERA.
According to FOX Sports Arizona, Kennedy will go in Game 1, Hudson will go in Game 2 and Joe Saunders will go in Game 3.
Brewers Pitching Report
As far as starting rotations go, Milwaukee's managed to stay under the radar this season. It didn't get much credit, but it was pretty solid.
According to the Sporting News, Yovani Gallardo is expected to pitch Game 1, with 2009 American League Cy Young winner Zack Greinke pitching in Game 2.
At least, that was the plan. I'm not sure if it will hold seeing as how Greinke pitched six innings on Wednesday. That means he would be starting Game 2 on three days of rest. We'll see if Ron Roenicke changes his plans.
Update: There's a report out from the Associated Press that Greinke will indeed start Game 2. He will do so on three days' rest.
Diamondbacks Hitting Report
If there is one thing the Diamondbacks do well with the bats, it's hit the ball hard. They finished third in the league with a collective slugging percentage of .413.
To boot, the power is pretty well spread out in Arizona's lineup. Five of their regulars had slugging percentages of .420 or better.
Leading the pack was none other than Justin Upton, who had his finest season as a pro. He finished the year with a .289 average, 31 homers, 88 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
Brewers Hitting Report
You know how I just mentioned the Diamondbacks have power? Well, the Brewers have even more power.
The Brewers finished the season with an NL-high 184 home runs, and their collective slugging percentage of .425 tied them with the Cardinals for the highest mark in the NL.
Much of Milwaukee's power comes from two men: Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. The two of them combined to hit 71 homers and drive in 231 runs, which is pretty good.
But hey, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks both topped 20 homers as well, so they deserve some credit too.
Who Must Step Up for Diamondbacks?
A bit of a tough call, but I'm going to go with Kennedy. He has ace numbers, but you wonder if he really is an ace. Last I checked, spearheading a charge through the playoffs is something that tends to earn one such a designation.
Who Must Step Up for Brewers
It has to be Prince Fielder. Since he hasn't made any effort to hide the fact that this is going to be his final season in Milwaukee, he owes the locals something to remember him by. A World Series run should do the trick.
This is probably the toughest of the four playoff series to predict, but I think I'll have to go with Milwaukee. The Brewers are more well-rounded, and I think more talented than the Diamondbacks.
Brewers in 5