NLCS 2010: Comparing the Phillies and Giants Outfields

October 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

As you’ve seen, we’ve analyzed the pitching matchups and how the Phillies and Giants compare in the infield.

This slideshow will examine the only part of the teams we haven’t focused on yet: the outfield.  Outfield defense is extremely important in the playoffs. 

Need an example? Last night in Atlanta, Cody Ross gets a base hit with the bases loaded, and Braves left fielder Matt Diaz threw out Pat Burrell, who was trying to score from second at home plate to keep the damage to just one run instead of two. 

The Braves would go on to lose, but with runners on first and second with one out in the ninth inning, they could’ve won the game with an extra-base hit, rather than just tie the game with one.  It was almost a huge play.

This slideshow will examine both San Francisco’s and Philadelphia’s outfield offensive production and defense.  So far, the teams seem evenly matched in pitching, while the Phillies infield smoked the Giants infield in our last slideshow. 

Will the Giants outfield even it up, making this series a complete toss-up?

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

NLCS 2010: Comparing The Phillies and Giants Infields

October 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

We just did a piece on the pitching matchups for the NLCS, that you should really read if you haven’t already. 

This time, we’re breaking down the infields of the finalists for the National League pennant.

Obviously, the Phillies boast Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in their infield.  Can the Giants infield offense (and defense) compete?

Each slide will breakdown the position battle, and see which team has the advantage at each position.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

NLCS 2010: Examining The Pitching Matchups

October 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

They say, rightfully so, that pitching decides the postseason.

In the NLCS this year, pitching will almost certainly have a direct impact on who goes to the World Series, and who goes home until spring training in 2011. 

The San Francisco Giants beat the Atlanta Braves Monday night to advance to the National League Championship Series where they will face the Philadelphia Phillies, who shrugged off the Cincinnati Reds in their first-round matchup.  The Phillies are looking to become the first team since the St. Louis Cardinals of 1942-44 to win the National League pennant three straight seasons. The Giants are making their first NLCS appearance since 2002, when they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in five games to advance to the Fall Classic.

Both teams have outstanding pitching staffs.  The Giants ERA was the best in baseball in the regular season, with a 3.36. A September in which their team ERA was a minuscule 1.78 was what propelled them over the San Diego Padres in that final month of the season.

The Phillies made the top 10 with a 3.67, good for sixth in all of baseball. 

Honestly, it’s hard to fathom that either of these teams could go home because one team out-pitched the other, especially San Francisco.  But that could absolutely happen, as Philadelphia has some dangerous arms on their staff. 

Here’s the breakdown:

San Francisco Giants:

Starting Pitching: Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez.

Outlook: In the NLDS, the rotation went Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez-Bumgarner.  Considering the Giants only allowed nine runs in the four games total, why mess with success?  Expect the same four-man rotation in the next round. 

It’s interesting, to say the least, that Barry Zito could technically be put back on the postseason roster to face the Phillies lineup, which is loaded with left-handed sluggers like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez that the left-handed Zito could neutralize. 

But over his last seven starts, Zito’s ERA is over six.  For the Giants to take one of their starting pitchers out on the off-chance that Zito might be effective against the Phillies would be them taking a risk that is not a smart one against a Philadelphia team that is a few wins away from being a dynasty.  Not to mention, the only two that you could fathom being replaced for Zito, Sanchez and Bumgarner, are left-handed as well.  (On a side note: In Zito’s only start against the Phillies this year, he allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings).

Bullpen: Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Guillermo Mota, Ramon Ramirez, Sergio Romo, Brian Wilson.

Outlook: The San Fran ‘pen has two lefties (Affeldt and Lopez) to neutralize the Phillies left-handed sluggers.  Closer Brian Wilson led the majors with 48 saves in the regular season.  Sergio Romo, Ramon Ramirez and Santiago Casilla had a fantastic 2010.  This bullpen is set up for success right now, especially if the Giants starters can continue to go deep into games. 

They could fall into trouble if their starters are pulled early or if tight games go into extra innings, though.  The last thing you want to do is send a right-handed reliever into a tie game to face Howard, Utley or Ibanez, because the game more than likely won’t be tied afterward.  Knowing the proper times to use his left-handed relievers will be critical for Giants manager Bruce Bochy in this series.


Philadelphia Phillies:

Starting Pitching: Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt.

Outlook: That 1-2-3 punch of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt is the best remaining in the playoffs.  That alone gives them a significant advantage over a San Francisco team that only scored 11 runs in their four-game series with the Braves.

Blanton will more than likely make his 2010 postseason debut in Game 4.  The Phillies could opt to use Halladay in Games 1, 4 and 7, Oswalt in Games 2 and 5 and Hamels in Games 3 and 6.  But me thinks Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel would rather that his big ace gets that extra day of rest and goes in Game 5.

With Blanton in the mix, expect Halladay to start Game 1 and Game 5, Oswalt to start Game 2 and Game 6, Hamels to start Game 3 and a possible Game 7, with Blanton splitting the big 3 with his Game 4 start.

Bullpen: Antonio Bastardo, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero.

Outlook: The Phillies bullpen ERA was 4.48 since September 1st.  The Phillies are coming out looking like roses after sweeping the Reds, but their biggest weakness, their bullpen, was never showcased in a huge spot.  Halladay and Hamels both threw complete games, so the Phillies’ bullpen only had to pitch four innings total in the three game series.

Hard to overlook the experience in this bullpen, though.  The Phillies have won the NLCS the past two years with Chad Durbin, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero in their bullpen.  Philadelphia has enough right-handers to deal with Buster Posey late in a game, and the left-handed J.C. Romero will probably get to know Aubrey Huff pretty well by the time this series is over.

It looks as if San Francisco has the edge when it comes to relief pitching, but Philadelphia may have the edge in their starting pitching, no matter what the Giants ERA was in the stretch run of September.  This could be one of the more evenly matched NLCS (pitching-wise) that we’ve seen in a long time.   

What do you think?  Do you think the Giants starting pitching is enough to match up with the Phillies?  Do you think the Phillies bullpen’s experience alone will be enough to stand with the Giants ‘pen? 

One thing’s for sure: If both teams pitch how they’re capable of, don’t expect a lot of runs.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

First Impression: Five Things We Learned From Day One of The 2010 MLB Postseason

October 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

If Wednesday was any indication of how the rest of the MLB postseason is going to be, man, we are going to be a part of something special.

We witnessed something that had only happened once in postseason history before today, and that certain something, we could quite possibly not see happen again in our lifetime.

We saw a few more reasons for the expansion of the use of a certain video tool that can help the umpires get their calls right. 

We saw…”DJ Kitty,” the Tampa Bay Rays ill-advised knockoff of the Los Angeles Angels’ “Rally Monkey.”

Here are the five things we (well, me…I…, whatever) learned from the first day of the 2010 MLB postseason. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Swept, Still Looking for Second-Half Magic

August 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Facing the Phillies at home in the second half over the past few seasons has not exactly been a walk in the park. It’s been more like a run. Lots and lots of runs for the Phillies.

The Astros sure didn’t make it look too hard this week. They held the Phillies to seven runs in four games, as they swept the four-game series from Philadelphia, which isn’t cruising as easily to the postseason as they did in 2009, when they won the National League East without much of a fight from the other four teams in the division. 

The fans let their displeasure be known, as according to the Phillies radio broadcast, a good amount of the fans in attendance on Thursday were already gone by the ninth inning of the 5-1 loss to the Astros.

This year the postseason is anything but a lock. The Phils sit a half-game back of San Francisco for the Wild Card, and three games back of the Braves for the National League East lead.

If the season ended today, Philadelphia wouldn’t make the playoffs, which would be absolutely shocking considering the main core of the team that went to the World Series last year and won it in 2008 has stayed intact, doing nothing more drastic than swapping Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay in the rotation.

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies, who are notorious for going on blazing-hot second-half runs, are 23-17. They’ve been solid, but certainly not spectacular, which has a lot to do with injuries to Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Shane Victorino, among others.  They’ve benefited from neither the Giants or Braves going on a run, but if the Phillies continue to play inconsistent baseball, they’ll miss the postseason for the first time since 2006.

“I don’t know what to say,” manager Charlie Manuel told the Phillies official website after the Phillies’ 5-1 loss on Thursday afternoon.  “All I can say is we have some guys, (Ryan) Howard and (Chase) Utley who need to get their timing.”

Utley returned on August 17th from thumb surgery and is hitting .235 with no home runs and three runs batted in since his return.  Howard returned from an ankle injury just six games ago, and has just three hits in 24 at-bats with no home runs and one run batted in. 

Life will not get easier for Philadelphia anytime soon.  They head to California to play three games each with the Padres, who just happen to have the best record in the National League, and the Dodgers, who just swept the Brewers in Milwaukee. 

Luckily for the Phillies, they still have six games remaining against the Braves, who have just refused to go on a big run to leave Philadelphia in the dust.  They do not face the Giants or Cardinals again, which means if it comes down to “Wild Card or bust” for the Phillies, they’ll have to take care of their own business, then look up at the out-of-town scoreboard and hope.

Rest assured, the playoffs are not a long shot for the Phillies.  But for the first time in a few years, there’s probably just as good a chance of Citizens Bank Park being empty in October as there is of it being jam-packed, just like it has been for the past 107 games.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Mets Get Ready to Visit House of Horrors: Mets-Phillies Series Preview

April 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Mets—erm, the 9-12, 4th place New York Mets—have been shaky to say the least so far this season. 

But May is a new month, and if there was a time for the Mets to get pumped, it’s this weekend, as they visit Philadelphia for the first time in 2009 to play the Phillies—erm, the 2008 World Series Champion, Philadelphia Phillies ( if there needed to be any more reason for the Mets to hate the Phillies, there it is).

To call Citizens Bank Park a “house of horrors” for the Mets may be a bit of an overstatement, as they did go 6-3 there in 2008. But if you want to look back on a season full of disappointment, that game on August 26th when the Mets had a 7-0 lead get away on a day they could have moved into first place and stomped the confidence of Philly would be at the top of any Mets fan’s list.

Breaking down every series starts with the starting pitching, and Friday we have:

Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 6.32 ERA) vs. Chan Ho Park (0-0, 7.16 ERA)

Outlook: Pelfrey had a good outing last time out against the Nationals, as he seems to have recovered from forearm tendinitis. Mr. Park pitched quite well his last outing, but has been pretty awful outside of that, going no more than five innings in his first two starts.

The Mets are also going to be desperate to win this game. I think we DESTROY Park, and Pelfrey goes six strong. 

Game 1: Mets win big.


Saturday: Oliver Perez (1-2, 9.31 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (3-1, 5.09 ERA)

Outlook: This is one of the biggest starts of Perez’s career. If he does not pitch well Saturday, he could find himself in Buffalo Sunday morning. I’m rather confident, because Perez was money against the Phillies last year (ERA of 0.35 in 4 starts, 26 innings pitched). But Jamie Moyer always somehow keeps the Mets to a bare minimum of runs.

Look for this game to be a low scoring affair.

Game 2: Mets win, but barely.

Sunday: John Maine (1-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-2, 8.41 ERA)

Outlook: Maine pitched well Monday against the Marlins, allowing no earned runs through six innings. But the Phillies will be chomping at the bit against him, because they do NOT want to get swept at home by the Mets if my first two predictions are correct. They’re going to work the count against him, because he has always been a high pitch count pitcher, and the Phillies are notoriously patient at the plate. Also expect Joe Blanton to have a good start, he’s due.

Game 3: Phillies win by 3-4 runs. 

Players to Watch For:

Mets: David Wright  He’s been having trouble seeing the ball lately, and is on pace for 208 strikeouts. Hopefully a few at bats against Chan Ho Park will get his bat going for good.

Phillies: Shane Victorino. He always spoils the Mets fun, especially on the basepaths and in the field.  Keep him off base, he’s only half the pest he usually is. 

Outcome: Mets win 2 of 3


Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies