Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Phillies vs. Dodgers: NLCS rematch breakdown

So, we're doing this again, huh? While I was tempted to simply re-post my NLCS breakdown from last year, I figured I should take another look at these two teams and see how they compare this time around. The Phillies have proven again and again that they can win any game, no matter how great the deficit or how much of an underdog people think they are. Do they have it in them to get past the Dodgers and back into the World Series? Here is my position-by-position breakdown of the two teams:

Starting Pitching:
Phillies: Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla, Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf

The Game One matchup is set, with Cole Hamels facing off against Clayton Kershaw. After that, both teams are keeping it close to the vest as to who they plan to send to the mound. If Cliff Lee continues to dominate and Hamels bounces back, the Phillies will have a big advantage at starting pitcher. The Dodgers do feature a pair of lefty starters that could give the Phillies trouble in Kershaw and Randy Wolf, but they really don't have an ace or a stopper on the level of a Lee or Hamels. What the Dodgers do have is depth, as they could send Chad Billingsley, Vicente Padilla or Hiroki Kuroda to the mound to start a game. While none of those names are particularly scary, each is capable of giving the team a few solid innings. It's a mystery which right handed pitcher the Phillies will use in this series, although I would bet money that you are going to see Pedro Martinez at some point. J.A. Happ is less likely to get a start because the Dodger lineup is much more balanced than the Rockie lineup. Edge: Phillies

Phillies: Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Scott Eyre, Brett Myers
Dodgers: Jonathan Broxton, George Sherill, Hong-Chih Kuo

Last year, this was a major advantage for the Phillies. This year, not so much. The Dodgers have a weak starting rotation that doesn't go deep into games by design because their bullpen is so dominant. Not only do they have one of the best closers in the game in Jonathan Broxton, but the Dodgers also have a pair of lefties in George Sherill and Hong-Chih Kuo that are going to giving the middle of the Phillies order fits. Even if Brad Lidge is truly back to form, the Phillies bullpen still has more question marks than solid options. Ryan Madson didn't look great in his last outing against the Rockies but I do like that Charlie Manuel is using him in the most crucial parts of the game. There is a possibility that Chan Ho Park will be healthy enough to pitch in the NLCS which will give the Phils a major boost. Edge: Dodgers

Phillies Carlos Ruiz
Dodgers: Russell Martin

While Russell Martin is nowhere near as good as he was last season, he's still one of the best hitting catchers in the game. Carlos Ruiz is Mr. Clutch, however, and he calls a great game behind the plate. Last year, I gave the Dodgers the edge at catcher but Chooch has passed Martin by with his playoff performances. Edge: Phillies

Phillies: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz
Dodgers: James Loney, Ronnie Belliard, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake

I stand by my assertion that the Phillies have the best infield in the game offensively and an argument can be made that it is the best defensively as well. With Ryan Howard making clutch hits and Jimmy Rollins and Pedro Feliz making for an incredibly solid left side of the infield, the Dodgers simply can't match up with the Phillies here. While they are all reliable at the plate, none of the Dodger infielders hit .300 or had 20 homers, so they just don't match up with the Phillies. Edge: Phillies

Phillies: Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth
Dodgers: Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier

The Phillies have the three All-Stars but the Dodgers still have the edge here. While Manny hasn't quite been Manny this year, he still one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. Matt Kemp is also a star in the making and the NLCS could be his breakout party. Don't underestimate Andre Ethier, ether, as he hit .500 and had a pair of homers against the Cardinals in the NLDS. The Phillies have a few studs in their own right in the outfield but they aren't relied upon to be the heavy hitters like the Dodgers outfielders are. Edge: Dodgers

Phillies: Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs
Dodgers: Juan Pierre, Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson

The Dodgers bench is loaded. They have defensive replacements that can still swing the stick in Juan Pierre and Orlando Hudson and a dangerous pinch hitter in Jim Thome. The Phillies also have their own version of Thome in Matt Stairs, but after Stairs and Francisco it falls way off. If the Phillies have to send up Greg Dobbs in a key situation late in the game, they are in trouble. Edge: Dodgers

Phillies: Charlie Manuel
Dodgers: Joe Torre

Last year, I said Joe Torre had a huge advantage because of all of his experience with the Yankees. Charlie Manuel has proved to be the better manager right now, however, with how he manages his bullpen and his bench to get the most out of them. Charlie always seems to be making the right calls and pushing the correct buttons, so until he makes a big mistake, he has to be considered one of the elite managers in the game. Edge: Phillies

My prediction:
The Phillies have the overall edge by these categories, 4-3. While the bullpen could still be a major issue, I still like the Phillies in six. I just think their offense is too good to be held back by the Dodgers weak starting pitching, so they will get early leads and never look back. The Dodgers will likely steal a few in the late innings but the Phillies starting pitchers will win a few games on their own.

It's a great time to be a Phillie fan, there is nothing like being right on the doorstep of another World Series. While the Dodgers will be a formidable opponent, you have to like the Phillies chances to BEAT LA!


AC said...

Nice workup on the positions though I think the Outfields are even. We share the prediction of Phillies in 6!

allthingsphilly said...

Yeah, the outfield call can go either way. It is pretty tough to go against the team with 3 All-Star outfielders!