Rockies v. Phillies
The Rockies are as enigmatic as the division in which they play in. Touted as a young team on the rise, the Rockies started the season as underachievers.
I would also like to take this time to throw a special shout out to my boy Garrett Atkins whom I drafted in the 7th round of my fantasy league this year. Atkins was supposed to be the slugger the Rockies desperately needed this season. He is now backing up Ian Stewart at third base. Let me put this in perspective for you Garrett, Dexter Fowler is getting more hacks then you right now. Dexter weighs a little more than a fat infant and he is getting the nod over you in crunch time. I hate you. I’m sorry – I just really could have used the power from that position this year.
Anyway, they would hit their low point of 12 games under .500 in the beginning of June. Management felt not enough was being done with the talent on the roster and manager Clint Hurdle was fired. That being said, the Rockies have been the hottest team in baseball since the break. Jim Tracy has brought back a sense of calm to the young dugout. Starters such as Troy Tulowitzki feel at ease knowing that their skipper has faith in them. The players have dutifully rewarded him with solid defense, consistent hitting, and a playoff berth. If Jorge De La Rosa can be fit to pitch in this series Colorado’s chances skyrocket.
Please don’t misconstrue me. The Phillies should win this series. They have a better roster and won it last year. That should be the end of the argument. But what fun would sports be if great teams didn’t have at least one fatal flaw? The problem for Philly is in their bullpen.
While the Rockies are trying to maintain their heat, the Phillies are trying to return to postseason form. Last year Philadelphia had a seasoned and lethal bullpen. They played with a confidence after the seventh inning not many could. Unfortunately for the defending Champions Brad Lidge has gone from a lights out solution in the ninth to a shaky proposition. There is no doubt that Philly touts a better lineup and starting rotation in a short series. They have the power to make short work of the Rockies. The only caveat will come when Hamels, Lee, or Blanton have to surrender the ball to the bully.
Cardinals v. Dodgers
With Torre and LaRussa at their respective helms, the Dodgers-Cardinals series will be an interesting exhibition in strategy. And we all know how exciting baseball strategy exhibitions can be.
The Dodgers come in with the best record in the National League but may just be the underdog in this one. Both teams tout a stunning lineup of speed and power. The Cardinals have a lethal combo of Pujols and Holliday. Either of which can turn the game around in one swing. The Dodgers counter with Manny Ramirez whom the Dodgers are confident will turn things around for the series. They also feature one of the best hitting center fielders in Matt Kemp. He is not only adept in the batter’s box but also on the base paths. Oh, I almost forgot the stunning contribution Jim Thome brings to the table for the Dodgers. His ability to fly out in crucial situation may prove vital in the week ahead.
The game changer comes in the form of the starting rotations. St. Louis has two of the best in baseball in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. The Dodgers have used the entire season to piecemeal a consistent rotation together. With Billingsley unable to throw anything but fastballs down the middle, Joe Torre will call on Randy Wolf to lead the Dodgers in game 1. The only confidence this brings LA fans is that Wolf is left handed and the Cardinals seem befuddled by these types of people this season. This will be a close series if the Dodgers take game 1. However if they lose home field advantage you can buy tickets for St. Louis in the League Championship series.