Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

LCS thoughts

Posted by flyingbk on 10/15/2009

Like I wrote before, all four teams are excellent. I really don’t think there’s a point in making predictions. The Yankees are clearly better than the Angels, while the Dodgers are a smidge better than the Phillies. That doesn’t mean we’ll get a Joe vs. Joe World Series.  What I hope to do instead is give you three factors apiece to pay attention to as you enjoy October baseball.

NLCS: Phillies vs. Dodgers

1) The battle of the bullpens. Both teams boast deep, versatile lineups. But in the pen, the Dodgers have a clear advantage in terms of quality and quantity. Even more so, they have two strong left-handed relievers in Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill, which will go a long way in neutralizing the Phillies’ terrorizing troika of Utley/Howard/Ibanez. And if that’s not enough, closer Jonathan Broxton is a righty who had an awesome year vs. lefty hitters. Meanwhile, Phillies fans will be nervously chewing their fingernails regardless of which reliever is attempting to close out a game for their club.

2) Torre’s overreaction. Vicente Padilla pitched lights-out for the Dodgers in game 3 of the NLDS; therefore, Torre has decided to reward him with a game 2 start, meaning that Padilla should also start a possible game 6. This move appears to be quite the mistake; Padilla is very difficult on right-handed hitters, but he struggles against lefties. And as noted before, the Phillies’ main strength is their excellence from the left side of the batter’s box. Torre would’ve been much better off starting Wolf in game 2 (I love starting Kershaw in game 1).

3) Who will step up? The Phillies begin this series at a disadvantage because their ace, Cliff Lee, won’t start until game 3. So it’s very possible that the Phillies will be eliminated before their ace can pitch twice. Therefore, they will need their other starters to step up, especially because Charlie Manuel will be looking to avoid using his bullpen as much as possible. Hamels is dependable, but their game 2 and 4 starters will come from a trio of Pedro Martinez, J.A. Happ, and Joe Blanton. Reports are that Pedro will get the nod for game 2; can he stand and deliver?

ALCS: Yankees vs. Angels

1) The peripheral Bombers. The Yankees are a strong favorite. Their lineup is better, their starting pitching is stronger, and their closer is a juggernaut. However, some of the lesser lights in the Yankees lineup- Damon, Cano, Swisher, and Melky- have been struggling. Damon especially has fallen on hard times; I know because he carried my fantasy team before collasping late. The Yankees have always relied on a relentless lineup during their championship years, and a small showing by their peripheral hitters makes them less formidable.

2) Don’t pray for rain. Joe Girardi has been clear that he would like to use a 3-man rotation in which C.C. Sabathia starts on 3 days rest in game 4 (he would start on regular rest in a potential game 7 because of the insane amount of off-days instituted by MLB for the LCS). However, if game 1 or 2 gets rained out (the forecast in NYC calls for lots of rain all weekend), he would have no choice but to start either Joba or Gaudin in game 4. The Angels would get the edge there; while the Yankees’ frontline starters are better, the Angels have a slightly deeper rotation.

3) Where’s the relief? Be careful what you hear as you watch the games; these Angels are built differently than their past editions, including the ones that took down the Yankees in the past. Their lineup has more power (and still lots of speed), but the prime change is in the bullpen. In their previous playoff runs, the conventional wisdom was that if the Angels had a lead in the late innings, it was game over. That is definitely no longer the case. The Halos’ pen is shaky at best, and the Yankees should have plenty of opportunities to forge comebacks, regardless of the inning and score. If the Angels are going to pull the upset, they’ll need at least two relievers (Oliver? Bulger?) to come up big.

OK fine, I’ll make predictions. Dodgers and Yankees, both in 6 games.


One Response to “LCS thoughts”

  1. jacobim said

    this is late, i know, but i had correctly predicted it would be Phils vs. Yanks. i am now predicting Phils over Yanks, not b/c i like the Phils, but i think they are overall, actually, the better team.

    i feel like sticking my finger down my throat right now.

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