Brewers-Phillies NLDS Preview
by Zach Greenberg
This September, as always, has provided much excitement and surprise. How about the Mets who collapsed for the second straight year? The Yankees missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993! What about the AL Central race?
No doubt, these are all gigantic headlines, but perhaps the most sensational moment was Sunday, which featured the Brewers and Mets, who were fighting for the final playoff spot. The Brew Crew beat the Cubs, 3-1, in an epic complete game pitched by CC Sabathia, on just three days rest! In New York, the Mets completed their second straight choke, losing to the Marlins 4-2. After both games were complete, Miller Park rained confetti, celebrating the Brewers first postseason berth since 1982.
The Brewers have a right to celebrate and party, but they should be cautious not to let it affect their play, much like their opponents’ last postseason quest. The Phillies clinched the NL East Saturday, by defeating the Nationals 4-3. Their second straight division title, the Phils took advantage of the Mets collapse, much like last year. However, the Phillies hope this postseason will reward them more than last year, where they were swept by the Rockies. All right, enough of this. Phillies vs. Brewers: How do they match up, position to position?
First Base: Both teams have powerful first baseman who hit a lot of homeruns. However, the edge goes to the Phillies and Ryan Howard. Howard’s 48 Hr and 148 RBI beat Fielder’s 34 Hr and 102 RBI. Prince is a great player, but Howard is the better of the two.
Edge - Phillies
Second Base: This is not very debatable. Chase Utley vs. a platoon featuring Ray Durham and Rickie Weeks? Utley in a landslide.
Short Stop: Jimmy Rollins represents the Phils, while J.J. Hardy plays a solid short for the Brewers. J-Rol has disappointed many after his MVP year, while Hardy has played great. No doubt Rollins has experience, but Hardy has played much better. I’ll give this a tie, with hope that Jimmy can return to form.
Third Base: Both teams lack big name third baseman, but I give the edge to the Phils and Pedro Feliz. Pedro provides spectacular defense, and some hitting. Key word: some. Who is Craig Counsell anyway?
Catcher: Jason Kendall provides experience and leadership. What does the platoon of Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste provide? Still waiting...I like how Kendall goes about his business. I do not like anything of Ruiz, who will most likely take over as the starting catcher for the postseason.
Outfield: Both outfields have much to like about them. The Brewers have the best outfielder in Ryan Braun. Mike Cameron and Corey Hart are both steady, contributing solid numbers all around. Both have hit 20 Hr’s and knocked in 70 or more runs. The Phillies also have a solid bunch. Jayson Werth has come onto hit 24 Hr’s, while batting third for the Phils. Shane Victorino plays a great centerfield. He also batted well, hitting .293 on the year with 14 Hr’s. Pat Burrell, the leftfielder, started out the season strong, but has flamed out since. He finished the year hitting just .250, while smacking 33 homeruns. In all, the Phillies outfielders have played exceptional ball, but still are inconsistent. I like the Brewers trio of Braun, Cameron and Hart.
Rotation- There’s been word that Sheets is out for the postseason. If so, than the Phillies catch a huge break. However, they still have to face CC Sabathia, who played a huge role in the playoff run. The Phils rocked Jeff Suppan during the four game sweep. Dave Bush pitched well, but I like the Phils trio of Hamels, Moyer and Myers. Remember, Sabathia cannot pitch every game! I believe Sabathia will keep the series close, but he just does not have enough help beside him. I like the Phillies here.
Closer: Lidge vs. Salomon Torres? Should I really go on? While Torres has pitched well in the closer spot, he just cannot be compared with Mr. Perfect. Lidge gets the nod.
In all, the matchups speculate that this series will be a fun and exciting one.
My final prediction: Phillies in 5
Cubs-Dodgers NLDS Preview
by Jonathan Leshanski
You wouldn’t think a team that limped into the playoffs with less than 85 wins and a 36-45 road record would stand a lot of a chance against a Cubs team that posted the best record in the National League and is strong at every single position. But you might be in for a surprise. These aren’t the same Dodgers that were struggling and were below .500 before the trading deadline.
Those Dodgers didn’t have the bat of Manny Ramirez or the scrappy leadoff guy Rafael Furcal (who was injured missed five and a half months of the season) leading the charge. What that means is that the Dodgers come into Chicago with a revitalized offense and the best overall pitching in the National League (ERA of 3.68).
And that means the Cubs better not take things for granted.
Still, you have to give an offensive edge to the Cubs who can hurt you from any position in the batting order. You also give them an edge because the team is so well balanced in both power and average that the Dodgers won’t be able to pitch around a single player to deal with lesser threats in the same way the Cubs hurlers will be able to pitch around Manny. While Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have some pop they don’t match up to Aramis Ramirez, Giovanni Soto, Alfonso Soriano or even Mark DeRosa (who parked 21 in the seats).
That means unless the Cubs bats fall as silent as they did last year against Arizona, the Dodgers will have to beat the Cubs by outpitching them.
That is the game plan and with Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda as their top three starters and Greg Maddux taking care of the fourth spot they might have a big edge in starting pitching; especially with Cubs aces Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden both bedeviled with health questions.
The bullpen edge probably also goes to the Dodgers behind Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo who have been just slightly better than the Cubs tandem of Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood who’ve given plenty of teams nightmares in the late innings.
The big question is can the Dodgers win on the strength of their arms. I think it’s possible and if the series goes to five games I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Dodgers win it. That said I think the Cubs will probably take this series in four games as the Dodgers’ edges don’t seem to be enough to overcome the total force of the Cubs’ offense.