Tag Archives: NLDS

Lee-ding the way in Philadelphia

Coming into this postseason, there were many concerns about the world champion Phillies’ chances of repeating this year: their bullpen was in question, their new ace was struggling, and their offense was in a funk in almost the entirety of September. With game one of the NLDS now over, the Phillies responded to two of the three concerns with style in their 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

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The questions surrounding the new staff ace were answered with four words: Cliff Lee is back. After setting a torrid pace in his first five starts with the Phillies, Lee had slumped as of late, causing a bit of concern for fans when he was named Game 1 starter. In his playoff debut, Lee dazzled, throwing a complete game, allowing only one run while striking out five in 113 pitches. Looking like the pitcher who won 2008 Cy Young award, Lee took command of the game, escaping some tough jams in the early innings and allowing the solitary run to the Rockies in the bottom of the ninth inning. If Lee continues this pace and Cole Hamels is able to emerge from the dugout tomorrow in 2008 World Series MVP form, then the Phillies may in fact have the scariest 1-2 punch in the postseason. Continue reading

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Playoff Preview: Dodgers vs. Cardinals

Two of Major League Baseball’s oldest and most storied franchises meet up again in the NLDS. The Cardinals and Dodgers last met in the playoffs in 2004, when St. Louis tookCardinalsDodgers the NLDS in four games and eventually advanced to the World Series. Prior to that, you have to go back to 1988 for the last matchup between the teams, a classic that involved Ozzie Smith’s walk-off home run in Game 5 and Jack Clark’s game-winning dinger in Game 6 that sent the Cards to the World Series. The Cardinals also held the advantage in the season series, winning five of seven games.

The Cardinals win if: Their one-two punch of Chris Carpenter (17-4, 2.24 ERA) and Adam Wainwright (19-8, 2.63 ERA) continue pitching like the Cy Young candidates that they are. Carpenter will take the rubber in Game 1 with Wainwright pitching Game 2. Given the schedule, Carpenter could potentially pitch Game 4 on three days rest. If not, both would be available for Game 5. Their one-two punch in the middle of their line-up of Albert Pujols (.327, 47 HR, 135 RBI) and Matt Holliday (.313, 24 HR, 109 RBI) should be able to produce enough runs to win the series against the Dodgers inferior pitching as long as Carpenter and Wainwright continue to do what they have been doing all year.

The Dodgers win if: They can hit the Cardinals starting pitching. They have the young stars ready to be recognized nationally by performing in the post-season with Matt Kemp (.272, 31 HR, 106 RBI), Andre Ethier (.297, 26 HR, 101 RBI), and James Loney (.281, 13 HR, 90 RBI). And they of course have future Hall of Famer Many Ramirez (.290, 19 HR, 63 RBI). But Manny, along with much of the Dodger line-up, has been struggling as of late. But if things begin to start clicking and they all play to their potential, they can win this series.

The X-factor: Dodger starting pitching. Starters Randy Wolf (11-7, 3.23 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (8-8, 2.79 ERA) will be up against Carpenter and Wainwright, respectively. They need to be able to keep the Dodgers in the game for them to have any shot at winning this series.

The verdict: Cardinals in 4. Since July 22, when Manny came back from his 50-game suspension, the Dodgers are just 34-33. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are 40-25. They have better starting pitching and a line-up that is not struggling in the second half of the season. All signs point to a Cardinals win.

-Brad Allen ’13

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Playoff Preview: Phillies vs. Rockies

For the Philadelphia Phillies, the first step on the way to a repeat as world champions will be a five-game series against the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. Last time these twoRockiesPhillies met in the postseason, the Rockies swept the Phillies in three games during the NLDS as they went on to take their first National League pennant. These two meet once again in 2009, with the memories of 2007 fresh in their minds.

The Rockies win if: Their pitching can keep the Phillies’ bats cool. The Phils come into the postseason with four days of rest since their last truly meaningful game, which could mean a slow offensive start for the defending world champs, especially with legitimate ace Ubaldo Jimenez ready to go in game one. This task is made more difficult with the recent loss of starter Jorge De La Rosa for the series, but a return to All-Star form by Aaron Cook may make up for that. If Colorado can keep the likes of Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth off the bases, then Rocktober will be extended through at least next week.

The Phillies win if: Their bullpen can hold up their end of the bargain. The final nine outs of the ballgame have been one giant puzzle for Charlie Manuel this season, and he will have the rough job of piecing together a save each night of the playoffs when the stakes are raised. The combination of Brad Lidge, Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson, and possible either J.A. Happ or Pedro Martinez will have to regain the confidence of the 2008 edition to ensure that the Phillies don’t look more like the 2007 team.

The X-factor: The ballparks. Coors Field and Citizens Bank Park are not known for their famous pitching duels. Both parks, in fact, are considered to be more of a launching pad than Cape Canaveral, which means the long ball will probably make its appearance early and often in this series. When you add the power-hitters on both sides of the series, you may end up seeing more crooked scores than usual in a playoff series.

The Verdict: While they are not the bullpen of last year, the Phillies relievers know what it takes to play late into October. Despite the possibility of hiccups from the relief corps, Colorado has noted struggles against left-handed pitchers, and the Phillies are loaded with southpaws. Both Eyre and Happ get a workout while Howard and Werth take advantage of the friendly dimensions of both home stadiums. Despite putting up some tough competition, the Rockies will ultimately miss the talented arm of De La Rosa and lose the series in four games.

-Tom Hagan, ’11

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