NLCS Prediction: Phils Keep Fightin’
Well, that sure turned out well for me (as yours truly predicted a Cubs-Brewers NLCS). Before I “analyze” (which nowadays seems to be code for “predict wrong”) the correct NLCS matchup, however, lets take a quick look at how each team advanced out of the first round:
-The Los Angeles Dodgers stunned the baseball world by sweeping the heavily favored Chicago Cubs, who were by far the best team in the National League all season long. The Dodgers pretty much dominated every aspect of the season, outscoring the Cubbies 20-6 overall in the three-game sweep.
-The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers on the strength of their starting pitching, getting fantastic starts from Cole Hammels, Brett Myers (who defeated the seemingly untouchable C.C. Sabathia), and Joe Blanton. The Philly pitching staff held the Brew Crew to just a .206 series average (including just 1 home run).
So, this Thursday night, the Dodgers will open the best-of-seven series in Philly. Personally, I will admit that I don’t know a whole lot about either team, as I don’t follow the NL nearly as much as I should. However, I was very impressed by what I saw from the Phillies in their series against the Brewers. Over the last decade, the Phils (at least in my mind) have had a reputation of never being able to advance deep into the postseason, whether it be being beaten in late-season play or in the ALDS. This time, though, at least they have cleared that hurdle, and now I think they are poised for the World Series. They can pitch with anybody (and I would say pitch better than LA), and their bats, guys like Rollins, Howard, Burrell, and Utley, are usually difficult to contain.
Of course, the other perspective on this series is that the Dodgers are a white-hot club right now, one that has been pitching lights-out AND outscoring opponents by multiple runs at the same time. However, I think the difference maker will be that the Philly offense will be more difficult to contain than the Cubs’ hitters. From my (albeit limited) experience, the Cubs have the type of lineup that, while it can score many runs, can be worked through by a solid starter, which is exactly what happened to them against LA. Philly, though, has hitters (mentioned above) with proven track records that I think will step up in the big series.
So, at least to me, this series will hinge on the productivity of Philadelphia’s offensive attack. If they can score a decent amount of runs, which I think they will, their pitching is good enough to hold LA down, resulting in a 4-1 dominating series win. If the Phillies’ offense struggles, though, LA has a very good chance of putting runs on the board in bunches and making this a very close series.
As much as I would like to see a Red Sox/Dodgers World Series (with the whole Manny Ramirez and Joe Torre in Boston connection), I don’t think that the Dodger Blues will hold up their end of the bargain. The Sawx, on the other hand…