National League Championship Series

Now that the first round of the Major League Baseball play-offs are behind us, I thought I’d check back in and see how well my prognostic skills were. When I made my predictions for the 2009 post season I was clearly hopped up on cough syrup or some sort of delusional medication.

In the National League I completely underestimated the flow of momentum going into the NLDS series. I mistakenly anticipated that the St. Louis Cardinals with the two best pitchers in the National League starting games one and two and the NL MVP at first base would dominate the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers.

Instead, it was the Dodgers that took advantage of the Cardinals mistakes to sweep the series and move on to the NLCS. The series really took a turn for Los Angeles in Game Two with the error by Matt Holliday. I’m not proposing that single play doomed the Cardinals but had the teams gone to St. Louis tied one game apiece may have equalized the momentum pendulum.

In my defense, I did successfully predict the Philadelphia Phillies victory over the Colorado Rockies. I did think it would take five games instead of four but then I didn’t anticipate Huston Street flopping like a fish and giving up three runs in the ninth inning of Game Four to lose it.

Tonight the National League Championship Series begins in Los Angeles. I’m going to give myself a mulligan on the first round and pretend my predictions didn’t really happen. Hey, it works when I selectively forget to do what my wife told me. Ok that’s a lie, I never get away with that but I doubt the Dodgers will make me sleep on the couch for not believing in them.

The series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies on paper looks like a pairing of closely matched teams. I have a hunch though that Joe Torre’s boys will make quick work of the Phillies and earn a berth to the World Series breaking a 21 year drought.

My reasoning is Los Angeles has a better pitching staff especially in the bullpen and in a seven game series the bullpen is exposed more than in a shorter series. I believe the relievers are going to play an important role in this series and if that happens, the Dodgers have a clear advantage.

From a starting pitching perspective the Phillies look stronger but because Cliff Lee cannot go until Game Three, that gives the Dodgers an advantage. Had the Phillies been able to sweep the Rockies and have Lee available to start Game One and potentially have him start in three games of a seven game series that might be different but that’s all moot now.

The Phillies hitters are swinging the bat much better than their Dodger counterparts but the Los Angeles pitching staff proved in the divisional series that they are capable of shutting down their opponents big bats.

I’m still scratching my head trying to understand how the Dodgers won that first round especially considering that their offense sputtered at best. They seemed to get the timely hits. I can’t believe that the potent Los Angeles offense will continue to struggle through two post season series so I am looking for James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Russell Martin to rebound from substandard performances.

On the other side, I think the Phillies will find that the Dodgers pitching staff is a bit harder to square up than the Rockies staff. As a team the Phillies hit very well in their first series and they will have to continue that hot streak if they hope to stay with the Dodgers.

From a pitching perspective Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ will need to pitch much better than they did against Colorado. Not only must they keep their team in the game but they will need to pitch deep in the game to keep the Philadelphia relievers out of the game if they hope to have any chance.

It is hard to pick against the defending World Champions but this seems to be the Dodgers year and they should overcome the challenges they face and return to the fall classic for the first time in 21 years. We’ll see if I am any better predicting this round than the last one. Maybe I should take some cough syrup just so I have an excuse if this pick doesn’t work out for me.


4 Comments

  1. Ruprecht – a Dodger follower since being a wee lad – has learned one thing about his beloved team: They never do anything easy.

    Cases in point: The travails of Mr. Ramirez. The many thrilling come-from-behind wins. The fall from grace of being 15 1/2 games above their closest rival at one point in the season, only to have it come down to the final series of the season before winning their division.

    No. I don’t wonder why I have grey hair in the least.

    It makes for spiffy baseball, that’s for certain. And – as much as Rupe likes to grumble, Rupe doesn’t think he’d have it any other way. I’m used to it.

    Does the sweep of the Cards worry Rupe? Yep. A bit. But there were opportunities in abundance … opportunities that were taken advantage of for a change and not squandered.

    Zat mean this is Los Doyers’ “year”? Rupe certainly hopes so.

    Regardless ….. it’s going to be fun …..

    • I like that they are not relying upon Manny to be the catalyst, that will pay dividends in the long run. I am puzzled by the lack of playing time by Orlando Hudson. I get that Belliard is the hot hand but I think defense should be factored into the equation and there is no one better than Hudson at second. I hope that doesn’t come back to bite them. I do agree with you Rupe, it should be a lot of fun to watch.

  2. I cant believe I just read this post on this blog

    • I know, I felt so dirty saying anything nice about the Dodgers. I’m going to have to sacrifice a bobble head to the Baseball Gods just to ask for forgiveness for writing such a blasphemous piece.

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