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Previewing The Phillies/Rockies From Both Sides
Authored by Christopher Reina/Brian Reynolds - 7th October, 2009 - 2:36 pm

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Chris Reina and Brian Reynolds split up each side of the NLDS debate, as the defending champion Phillies battle the 2007 NL champion Rockies.

Why The Phillies Will Win The NLDS

-By Chris Reina

For as long as the Philies have a lineup that features Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth and even Carlos Ruiz behind the plate, they will score runs like an American League team.

But Philadelphia won the 2008 World Series largely based on the strength of their bullpen and that has become an area of weakness. Now, the Phillies will need to rely on their starting pitching, most notably new arrivals Cliff Lee and J.A. Happ.

Happ finished the season with a 2.93 ERA in 166 innings, while Lee and Pedro Martinez had ERAs in the 3.00's. Cole Hamels finished the season with a 4.32 ERA, but had a 3.32 ERA in September even though he struggled in his final three starts of the regular season.

Charlie Manuel has the luxury of starting lefties Lee and Hamels at home in Games 1 and 2, though that makes starting fellow lefty Happ in Game 3 something that Philadelphia doesn't want to do. He will be available in the bullpen in Games 1 and 2 while still being available to start Game 4 in Colorado.

That bullpen can't be described as being in any other state other than disarray. Brad Lidge blew 11 saves and though he expects to be reliable in the closer role, the Phillies won't be afraid to turn to Brett Myers and Ryan Madson. Ultimately, I trust those three to be effective in late game situations and the reinforcements from the rotation will significantly help their efforts.

With the NL East being decided months ago, the Phillies limp into the postseason both on the mound and at the plate, which troubles me. Lee had a 5.59 ERA in September while Happ had a mark of 4.43. Famously, Lidge has continued his struggles by giving up nine runs in nine September innings.

The Phillies hit for an OPS of .757 in September, with Utley being severely worse than usual by hitting .204/.304/.343

It is extremely difficult for a team to win consecutive World Series titles since the MLB has gone to this extended playoff format and though I think they will get past the Rockies, this doesn't feel like a team destined for a repeat.

Why The Rockies Will Win The NLDS

- By Brian Reynolds

Since the dismissal of Clint Hurdle on May 29th, the Colorado Rockies found fire under Jim Tracy, going 74-42 the rest of the way to earn their second postseason berth in three years.? Their reward is a first-round match-up with the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies.? Don?t be fooled though, the Rockies are set to make another deep postseason run this Rocktober.
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First off, let?s make it clear how hard it is to repeat as World Champions in Major League Baseball.? It has not happened since the 2000 New York Yankees.? It has not happened in the National League since Sparky Anderson?s Cincinnati Reds did it in 1976.? Those odds clearly favor Colorado.
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The Phillies are loaded with big-time question marks.? Their bullpen is depleted.? A year removed from perfection, Brad Lidge posted a 7.21 ERA with 11 blown saves.? Who is going to be the man Manuel calls on in these late and highly pressured contests?? Ryan Madson has shown he is not the answer.? Can the Phillies really be confident handing the ball over to Scott Eyre or Brett Myers?? I sure wouldn?t be. The bullpen is a very important part of any team that is going to make a run in October.? Look at K-Rod and the Angels in 2002, or Papelbon and the Red Sox, or even Lidge last year.? These teams won because they could hold on to games late and the Phillies have shown this season, with regularity, that they can?t do that.
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And have you seen the way the Rockies play this year?? It seems like every other game there is a walk-off hit at Coors Field.? Whether it?s Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, Dexter Fowler, or Ryan Spilborghs, the team from Denver has a flare for the dramatic.? The Rockies will not be intimidated by the Phillies.? They know they have nothing to lose.? They don?t have a superstar on their roster, and in a weird way that?s what makes them scary.? The Phillies have all the pressure in the world in this one, and the Rockies will make that clear.
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Another big issue is the starting pitching.? Cliff Lee was recently announced the Game 1 starter for Philadelphia.? Coming over to the Phillies, Lee was dominant going 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA.? Since then however, Lee is 2-4 with 6.13 ERA.? Those are not exactly ace-type numbers.? Furthermore, Cole Hamels has the Brad Lidge syndrome.? After a dominant October in 2008, Hamels went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA this year.?
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On the other side, Colorado will throw one of baseball?s most underrated players in Game 1 with Ubaldo Jimenez.? Jimenez has the stuff to be one of the elite pitchers in the game in the years to come.? Since the All-Star break, Jimenez has gone 9-3 with 13 quality starts in 15 appearances.? During that span, he had an ERA of 2.90.? Keep in mind that he pitches at Coors Field.? I like Jimenez and the Rockies to take Game 1 and give the Phillies a sense of doubt.