NLCS Preview: Phillies vs. Giants

Phillies 97-65; 1st in NL East                      Giants: 92-70; 1st in NL West

Pitching Probables – (Likely to change).
Game 1: Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43) @ Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44)
Game 2: Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07) @ Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76)
Game 3: Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06) @ Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14)
Game 4: TBA
Game 5*: TBA
Game 6*: TBA
Game 7*: TBA

Game 1: Oct. 16, FOX – 7:30 PM
Game 2: Oct. 17, FOX – 8:00 PM
Game 3: Oct. 19, FOX – 4:00 PM
Game 4: Oct. 20, FOX – 7:30 PM
Game 5*: Oct. 21, FOX – 7:30 PM
Game 6*: Oct. 23, FOX – 3:30 PM
Game 7*: Oct. 24, FOX – 7:30 PM

Three Phillies to Watch

Phillies slugger Ryan Howard waits during batting practice, Tuesday. Howard hit just .273 in the NLDS while striking out five times. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Roy Halladay: Once again, he will be the Phillies game one starter, going up against the Giants’ ace, Lincecum. With one career post season start under his belt, a no-hitter last Wednesday, Halladay will look to continue to be the dominate, big-game pitcher the Phils acquired him to be. The Giants offense isn’t very potent and Halladay should have no problem dominating again.

Jayson Werth: Werth was a part of their biggest problem last series, going 2-for-12 in the three-game series with five K’s. As one of Philadelphia’s best hitters, for both power and average, Werth needs to have the typical post season he enjoyed the last two seasons.

Ryan Howard: Howard is another hitter who should be dominating in this time of the season. But like Werth, Howard didn’t do too much in the NLDS, going 3-for-11 and striking out five times. Jonathan Sanchez is a tough on left-handers and with the possibility of seeing Madison Bumgarner as well, Howard could have a tough time against the Giants if he doesn’t figure out Lincecum and Cain either.

Three Giants to Watch
Tim Lincecum: He’s the Freak. He’s the best young pitcher in baseball. Arguably pitching the best performance of the NLDS (yes even better than Halladay’s no-no) with a two-hit, 14-strike out effort in game one, Lincecum can decimate any offense. But against the Phillies in Philadelphia, he has been solid at best in his career.

-June 3, 2007 — 6.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (ND)
-May 4, 2008 — 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (ND)
-September 3, 2009 — 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 B, 11 K (L)

It will be interesting to see how he does in his first career postseason. The Phillies offense is not anything that resembles the Braves.

Matt Cain: Cain is the jelly to Lincecum’s peanut butter (and you know how much stoners love PB&J). Cain had a very similar season to his Cy Young-candidate performance last season, posting a 13-11 year with a 3.14 ERA while striking out 177 batters. Cain is a very tough pitcher who is hard on both lefties and righties (opponents batted .211 right-handed and .225 left-handed this season against Cain).

Giants catcher Buster Posey celebrates with Giants closer Brad Wilson after beating the Padres to get into the playoffs. (MSN FOX)

Buster Posey: Posey should be the NL Rookie of the Year. He batted .305 with 18 homers and drove in 67 RBIs. The catcher, who is drawing comparison’s to Joe Mauer, is considered San Francisco’s best offensive weapon, which is honestly not saying much. He’s the only one really producing at a high level but his numbers alone cannot support a weak-hitting line up. The Phils could pitch around him, or even through him, and get away with it.


Phillies second baseman Chase Utley circles the bases after hitting a solo homer in the fifth inning of game three, Sunday night. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Phillies: Mike Sweeney, Halladay, and Wilson Valdez have the three highest post season batting averages so far. That says a lot on how much the Phillies bats struggled in the NLDS. San Francisco poses much better pitching than Cincy (arguably the best staff in the majors) and could easily shut down the Phils offense if the dry spell continues.

The Phillies 3-4-5 of Chase Utley, Howard, and Werth went a combined 8-for-34 (.235 average) in the NLDS, striking out 12 times. Utley drove in four of the trio’s five runs and hit the team’s lone home run of the series.

No batter in the starting eight had more than three hits while the offense as a whole scored 13 runs but six of those runs came off of Reds errors. Another power outage like that could force the Phils into a pitcher’s duel with the Giants and that could be a very scary scenario.

Giants: The Giants offense struggled in the NLDS too. Twice they were challenged by the Braves to come back and they did so, taking games three and four in Atlanta to close out the series.

Posey is the best offensive threat this team has and that’s just about it. Pat Burrell will be the Scott Rolen of this series. He did really well in the regular season back in Philadelphia, mashing a pair of homers. If the crowd cheers him at all, they’re nuts.

The rest of their line up is filled with misfits and castaways from other teams such as Aubry Huff, Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, and Freddy Sanchez. Pablo Sandoval has had a terrible year this season but can still pose a threat.

Giants ace Tim Lincecum is the future of the Giants success.

Phillies: What the Giants have in talent, the Phillies matched in experience. Halladay is still considered the best pitcher in baseball by many. Hamels is pitching the best season of his career, even better than his NLCS/WS MVP 2008 season. Roy Oswalt’s acquisition put this rotation over the top, giving the Phils that extra push needed to be a World Series favorite. Joe Blanton has been either great or bad for the Phils. Game 4 could swing heavily in SF’s favor because of this.

Giants: With Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants absolutely silenced the Braves offense. Lincecum is arguably the best young pitcher in the game and is pitching the best he has in 2010. Cain and Sanchez are also high up in the talks for young pitchers. If San Francisco can keep this trio intact long-term, Bobby Cox’s trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz in the 1990’s could be challenged for the greatest rotation of the last 25 years.

Phillies: The pen only pitched four innings this postseason so far thanks to complete games by Halladay and Hamels. Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero are their right-handed and left-handed specialists respectively. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge form a lights-out 8th/9th inning tandem.

Giants: Brian Wilson has a silly mohawk/terrorist beard combo going. But don’t let the silly get-up fool you as he’s been very good thus far in the post season closing out games. He did blow a save though but hadn’t allowed an earned run in four innings of work. The pen also has Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla, who also enjoyed great seasons pitching in the Giants pen.


1 thought on “NLCS Preview: Phillies vs. Giants

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