Dodgers-Phillies National League Championship Series Preview

October 14, 2009

With the National League Championship Series ready to get underway tomorrow, it is time to size up this rematch of last year's NLCS.


Even with the best record in the National League, many doubted the Dodgers before the playoffs started. Going up against the Cardinals, pundits overwhelmingly expected the Dodgers to be quickly ousted, and based upon the team's performance the last month of the season who could blame them?

Additionally, it was understood that the Cardinals had better starting pitching and a roster full of players from a team that had won the World Series just a couple of years earlier. Las Vegas picked the Cardinals as the #2 favorite, behind the Yankees, to win the World Series.

However, by sweeping the first two games at home, the Dodgers really blew up every one's expectations about how these playoffs were supposed to go. They faced top starters Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and won both games. While the Dodger's improbable Game 2 victory probably sealed the Cardinal's fate, the Dodgers didn't waste any time by completing the sweep with a dominant win at St. Louis in Game 3. The Cardinals meanwhile floundered against the Dodger's deep and forgotten bullpen.

The Dodgers now appear re-energized thanks in part to their loud and devoted fans (probably the most underrated fans in baseball). Along the way, the Dodgers displayed many of the qualities that made them a dominant team in the first half of the season. They now appear closer to the team that was a major league-leading 56-32 at the All Star break.

The defending champion Phillies have had their ups and downs throughout this season. At times, it seemed they had slipped a little and the starting and relief pitching was not as dominant as last year.

However, their clutch performances in the playoffs suggest they are back on track. Philadelphia's timely hitting and late rallies (with the help of a couple of bad calls by the umpires) ended what had been a very competitive series with the typically over-achieving Rockies.

In winning the final two games in Colorado the Phillies once again asserted the toughness that has defined their team. With proven starting pitching and previously struggling closer Brad Lidge back on track, Philadelphia is beginning to look like the championship team they were last year.


The Phillies have a powerful lineup with Ryan Howard(45 HRs), Chase Utley (31 HRs), Jayson Werth (36 HRs), Jimmy Rollins (21 HRs), and Raul Ibanez (34 HRs). However, of those players only Werth is a pure right-handed batter. Rollins is a switch hitter and the rest are left-hand hitters.

While Utley and Ibanez actually hit slightly better this year against lefties as opposed to righties (.288 vs .279, and .267 vs. .285), Howard and Rollins struggled badly against southpaws (.320 vs. .207, and .257 vs. .230). Last year, the Phillies met a Dodger team lacking in consistent left-hand pitching to counter their potent batting lineup.

However, this year the Dodgers are in a much better position to face that lineup. Their two best starters, Clayton Kershaw (2.79 ERA, 185 K's) and Randy Wolf (3.23 ERA), are left-handers, and their bullpen is strenghtened by lefties Hong-Chih Kuo (3.00 ERA) and George Sherrill (0.65 ERA in 30 games as a Dodger). Critically, all of these pitchers have been dominant against left-handed hitters: .173 vs. Kershaw, .159 vs. Wolf, .152 vs. Kuo, and .121 vs. Sherrill.

The ability of the Dodgers to limit the powerful left-hand dominant lineup of the Phillies might be the key to this series.


Dodgers defeat Phillies in 6 Games.

Although the Phillies won this series last year, there is enough evidence to believe the Dodgers, at their best, have been the better team this year. With the home field advantage, they should move on to their first World Series in 21 years.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for


  1. Dodgers will own philly. howard is a strikeout machine. kemp, manny, ethier are money clutch hitters. and no chad billingsley to hold us back this time!

  2. Lidge is a joke. Unless Philly can get some complete games from Lee & Co., the dodgers are gonna school that weak a** bullpen in the late innings.

  3. Yeah exactly. Lame predictions from lame fans.


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