Phillies vs. Reds- Here is a series that pairs a consistent winner with a consistent loser. The Philadelphia Phillies are playing in their fourth consecutive postseason, not to mention coming off two seasons in which they reached the World Series, winning one in 2008. The Phillies are stronger and deeper than the team that lost to the Yankees last year.
With a combined 13-1 record in September and the team’s fourth consecutive National League East division title in their pocket, Phillies pitchers Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have plenty to make the Reds sweat in their uniforms.
Halladay, pitching in his first postseason in a career spanning 12 seasons, has never been better, and that’s an understatement. He posted career-high 219 strikeouts, a third 20-win season and a career-low 2.44 earned-run-average (ERA). Oswalt was the flower who grew out of the pot of dirt. He came from a mediocre Houston Astros team despite having a below four ERA. With the Phillies, Oswalt is 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA; this is the type of pitching a two-time 20-game winner is accustomed to doing. Hamels is pitching like his World Series MVP form again, and that’s a dangerous thing.
The Reds counter with Edinson Volquez for game one, but it all ends there. Volquez is a former 17-game winner, but hasn’t been the same since his Tommy John surgery. Bronson Arroyo won 17 games this season, but is an average pitcher nonetheless, sort of a A.J. Burnett type.
The Phillies will not allow earned runs with their pitching and their hitting is one of the best with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the middle of the order. The Reds don’t have the hitting to offset their pitching, even with NL MVP candidate Joey Votto. It won’t be enough in their first postseason in 15 years.
Phillies in three.
Giants vs. Braves- Anybody remember the movie Little Giants? Well this is a great opportunity to pop that VHS into the VCR and remember the group of misfits that beat the hated Cowboys. I know it’s a different sport, but that these San Francisco Giants have the makeup of that kid team.
The Giants are a team many overlooked, most likely because of they are mostly composed of no-names and second chance players. What they do have is great team chemistry and pitching that any team would love to have. Their starters are not big names, except for two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, but they do have a bullpen that is virtually lights out. The bullpen has not allowed a run in 36 1/3 innings! If the Giants get an early lead, don’t expect them to lose the game.
The Braves are also a team that lacks the big names, but have managed to produce the type of winning baseball that legendary manager Bobby Cox has always had. The problem is that, beyond consistent pitcher Derek Lowe, they don’t have another pitcher to throw zeros. The loss of the franchise’s face in Chipper Jones won’t help the many players who have no playoff experience. Also, there isn’t a batter in the Braves lineup that can provide a pop other than rookie Jason Heyward, but he’s still a rookie.
The combination of the overpowering Giant arms plus the inexperience of the Braves will leave a Bobby Cox a last playoff hurrah.
Giants in four.