Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Five Reasons Why Philadelphia Scares The Crap Out Of Me This NLCS

So we're settled now, it's Philadelphia, in a repeat of last year's NLCS.

1. When NLCS teams have met in consecutive years, the result is usually is an identical outcome. In 1991/1992, the Braves beat the Pirates four games to three both times; in 1977/1978, the Dodgers beat the Phillies three games to one both times. The Phillies took us in five last year, and the wound is still open and festering and as ready for salt as the rim of a margarita glass. For those of you who want to see what Chavez Ravine looks like on a Friday, I'd buy some Game 2 tickets, not Game 6 tickets. UPDATE: Timothy corrected me by reminding me of 2004/2005, in which the Cards took the Astros in seven in 2004, but the 'Stros came back the following year and took St. Louis in six. Thanks Timothy. You know, I heard this point on ESPN radio's post-game show following the Phillies' victory, and still went home to check it, and still missed it. Nice catch.

2. Matt Stairs is still a Phillie. Remember Stairs? The 40-year-old whose 2008 NLCS Game 4 two-run home run broke our back last year? Well, he's back this year, with a lower batting average (.194 this year relative to .252 last year) but a largely similar OPS (.735 vs. last year's .751). He's still a big burly beer-softball guy who can be dangerous as a pinch hitter. And if the Dodgers decide to try and take the Stairs, I hope we don't get winded.

3. Cliff Lee is on fire this postseason. Since he came over to the Phillies, Lee has done nothing more than go 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in the regular season, and then dominated the Rockies in Game 1 (CG 9 IP, 1 ER, 5 Ks and a hit from the plate to boot) and was pretty strong in Game 4 (7.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Ks). He pitched 113 pitches in Game 1 and 117 last night. At this trajectory, Lee will be able to go 121 pitches if he gets another start!

4. Brad Lidge has his groove back again, and Charlie Manuel isn't afraid to use him. All the talk prior to the postseason was how Brad Lidge was a mess. 11 blown saves and a 7.21 ERA. Entrances that made Irwin scream "You're Killing Me, Bradley!" But this postseason, in four games and three Philly victories, he's got two saves and no blown saves. He's the bomb! I mean, sure, he walked two in earning his first save (one inning of relief), and he only pitched to one batter last night (striking out Troy Tulowitzki to clinch the series; Lidge entered the game only after Ryan Madson blew the eighth inning and Scott Eyre had trouble getting the side out in the ninth). But the history will record two saves! Lidge will be solid for the NLCS.

5. Aquaman is rooting for us, which can't be a good sign. How else to explain this (finally, appropriately colored!) poll (see lower right corner):

Not to disparage Ariel, King Triton, Kevin Costner's Mariner character from Waterworld, and Namor. But when your fan base of support partially depends upon a guy who runs around in a scaly orange top and green spandex pants, and is so hard up for storylines that they've got to sever his left hand--that's a problem. Unless, of course, Arm Fall Off Boy is a Phillies fan. Then, we might be in luck.

Stairs photo: Associated Press


Mike Sharperson Lives! said...

"I'd buy some Game 2 tickets, not Game 6 tickets. "

I did buy game 7 tickets. I did NOT buy a plane ticket from SF to LA.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Namor? I thought he prefers the name, Submariner.

Steve Sax said...

@neeebs: good point, but I didn't want him to think we were sticking him in a category with Kent Tekulve. Not with Namor's fiery temper and all.

Josh S. said...

I'm probably overconfident, but I'm not as scared by the Phillies. Their offense is arguably the same as last year, and now we have better weapons in place to counteract their heavy hitters. Our offense is arguably improved over last year. Even though it's essentially the same pieces, you can't say most of those pieces aren't better than last year.

And yes, there is the Cliff Lee problem, but Carpenter and Wainwright > Lee and Hamels, and we saw how that went.

Plus...home field!

Th Dodgers will in if:
-They find a way to get to Lee.
-They minimize mistakes. (Raffy, you have last year to atone for.)
-Matt Kemp comes alive.

Kyle Baker said...

Well said, Josh. I believe we've gotten better by both growth of players we already had and the addition of others, both offensively (Belly#2, bench) and pitching-wise (both SP and pen).

Philberts have stayed mainly the same, but obviously added Lee.

So we both grew, but I think Dodgers grew more and better. Maybe that makes a 4-1 series more of a 4-3 series in the end (going either way), but I would argue we are far more competitive this year than last NLCS.

I feared the Ordinals more than Philberts, so I'm cautiously more confident in this upcoming matchup.

Anonymous said...

Sax -

What about Cards-Astros in 04'-05'?

Revenge is in the air!

Kyle Baker said...

Ethier up for Pepsi Clutch Player of the Year:


Vote early and vote often, but don't drink that nasty Pepsi.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

@Sax: Yeah, I forgot about that temper thing. Fire in eyes.

@everyone: We are a much different team than last year. The kids aren't kids anymore. They've been through the battles. They don't wait for Manny to carry them anymore. We have a deep pitching staff. We are ready.

Anonymous said...

#1- Meaningless.

#2- Broxton has improved and now we have Sherrill to deal with Stairs.

#3- Uhhh, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. (I know Wainwright pitched a great game, but we still won).

#4- Lidge had almost 40 saves this year, as shitty as he was. Two saves don't scare me. Especially when one was a ONE out save.

#5- It sucks being the favorite, but but we're not really the favorite by much (ESPN "experts" are split 3-3), plus the Phillies are the defending champs, so we're still the merely the "challenger"

Kyle Baker said...

EK on ESPN 710AM right now talking up Doyers.

Kyle Baker said...

Thus spake Neeebs:

"The kids aren't kids anymore. They've been through the battles. They don't wait for Manny to carry them anymore. We have a deep pitching staff. We are ready."

'Nuf said. Our kids are all grown up now. It seems like just yesterday they were going to prom and going on senior skip day. Now they're men. They're playoff veterans and they're hungry. Let's go get 'em, boys.

Josh S. said...

"EK on ESPN 710AM right now talking up Doyers."

Did he have an audio puzzle for us?

Kyle Baker said...

I wanted to call in and say "Answer sent."

Josh S. said...

Update to the poll: The entire East Coast has gone for the Phillies (except for New York...and Maine is a dead heat). However, Louisiana and Arkansas have come back over!

Jeebus. I really need this series to get started.

rbnlaw said...

I like the way the Dodgers match up with the Fill'ds. Lefty on lefty is always fun to watch.

Manuel had Lee pitch 17 innings on little rest. Hammel looked good, but he's not the 08 Hammel.

The line-up is potent, but what are the chances of the Flyin' Hawaiin absolutely going off two years in a row? Of course, I said the same thing about Reggie Jackson years ago (for the record, I did not refer to Jackson as "The Flyin' Hawaiin).

Kyle Baker said...

I want to say it's my Arkansas relatives who tipped the scale over to the good side. Maybe my brother voted about 5,000 times.

LLCoolL said...

The Pirates were in the playoffs?

Kyle Baker said...

Hearing now that Philberts will start Hamels in Game 1 on Thursday and Cliff Lee on Friday.

Unknown said...

One big thing that we have this year over last is home field advantage. That was huge last year as I feel we got snake bit in the pivotal game 1 and lost a tough one.

We are the better team in practically every metric except for power and we are much deeper this year...really we should have nothing but tempered confidence.

51 hours to first pitch!!

Josh S. said...

I think I'm OK with Lee going in Game 2. That pretty much limits his 2nd appearance to Game 5 only. If they keep him in reserve for Game 6 or 7, that's a long break in between. (6 days rest for game 6, 7 for game 7.)

Josh S. said...

So, my winning strategy is to go up 3-0 to force Manuel to use Hamels again in Game 4 on short rest.

Should be a piece of cake, right?

Steve Dittmore said...

Couldn't comment over the weekend, but as I watched Jim Tracy not bring in a lefty last night to face Howard, I'm left with this...

Is there any reason NOT to put Elbert on the roster as an extra left-handed arm in case there is a 6th inning situation against Utley or Howard with the game in the balance? I doubt Torre would burn Kuo or Sherrill that early in a game.

Kyle Baker said...

Josh, there are some managerial posts open now...you should consider!

Steve Sax said...

PavilionBum: dude, this is satire. Wasn't Aquaman the tip-off?

Anonymous said...

So Aquaman's rooting for the Phillies?

Shit, if we've lost Aquaman, we've lost the amaerican baseball fan.