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2008 NLCS Preview: Phillies vs. Dodgers
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
October 8, 2008

I think it is necessary that I say this: as I sit here, preparing myself to write this article, Iím still not sure who will win this series.

Itís easy for me to sit here and say the Phillies will win since they were the better team over a 162 game period, but you and I both know that wouldnít be too smart. Iíve seen the Yankees get whooped too many times by weaker teams and/or teams they beat on through out the course of the season to fall through that trap door once again.

You can make a case that the Dodgers were lucky in the LDS and that the Cubs lost the series rather than the Dodgers winning it. Ryan Dempster suddenly forgot how to throw strikes after posting the best BB/9 ratio of his career. The Cubs played like the Bad News Bears in Game 2, and Rich Harden pitched one of his worst games in a Cubs uniform. But I digress. Lets look ahead rather than looking back.

Offense

The Phillies scored 799 runs while the Dodgers only managed to step on home plate 700 times. However, such a comparison is not fair to the Dodgers. On July 31st, they traded for some dude named Manny Ramirez and he played pretty good. In the second half, the Dodgers actually outscored the Phils 349 to 318. The Phillies are going to have to really focus on getting Russell Martin and Rafael Furcal out for two reasons. One of them is because theyíre both pretty good hitters, and the other is they bat in front of Man-Ram. If Philadelphia can manage to keep them off the bases, it will enable them to pitch to Ramirez more cautiously.

Verdict- The Phillies, despite the second half surge the Dodgers have been on, top to bottom have the stronger lineup, which gives them the slight edge here.

Starting Pitching

The Phillies may have the best starting pitcher on either of the teams in Cole Hamels, but they lack the depth. Chad Billingsley is a very good number one guy, while Derek Lowe, who is 4-0 with a 2.93 in his last four post-season appearances, and Hiroki Kuroda are no slouches either. Brett Myers certainly had a good second half, and Jamie Moyer has put together a quality season, but they are both far from solid. Myers is capable of dominating, but is also capable of blowing up; Moyerís very average K/BB ratio and FIP of 4.33 are nothing to hang your hat on. Joe Blanton is scheduled to go up against Clayton Kernshaw or Greg Maddux in Game 4. Something tells me that Maddux will get the nod due to his experience, despite having pitched poorly for the Dodgers. Although Blantonís ERA has dropped by three quarters of a run, his inability to keep the ball in the park and awful K/BB ratio of 49/31 suggest that might be a product of luck.

Verdict- Edge for the Dodgers

Bullpen


Both of these teams have extremely strong bullpens, and you can make a case for the Phillies having the best in all of baseball. Brad Lidge has been perfect in save opportunities and is enjoying his best season since 2004. Ironically, the Dodgers may have been the only team that could rival the Phillies' bullpen, but unfortunately, it looks like Takashi Saito will be left off of the roster in favor of Hong-Chih Kuo. If this is the case, Jonathan Broxton moves into the closer's role, and the middle of the bullpen becomes a bit vulnerable.

Verdict- Slight edge for the Phillies

Outlook

With the Dodgers' addition of Manny, these teams are very evenly matched. However, I think the Phillies' lineup is just too strong for the Dodgers staff, and losing Saito is certainly a large blow to the LA mid-section.

Verdict- Phillies in seven


Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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