So count me among the people who were absolutely stunned that the Dodgers took out the Cubs in 3 games. I thought it would be a competitive series and that people were overlooking the fact that the Dodgers had very good pitching and a pretty good offense, but a sweep? Wow. The Phillies did exactly what I thought they'd do by beating the Brewers in 4 games.
My heart is hoping for a Phillies/Sox World Series so I can taunt my stepfather and his family who are Philly fans, but the thought of a Dodgers/Sox World Series (granted the Sox make it) is really starting to pique my interest.
Anyways, here's the breakdown. I'll be doing the format a bit differently for this series since I've already gone over all the stats previously. Anyways, here we go.
The Phillies need to control Manny Ramirez and have the other pieces of the Dodgers lineup beat them. That's not saying that players like Matt Kemp, Andre Either, Russell Martin, and company aren't good, but Ramirez is the key of that lineup, he makes them better, see better pitches, etc. With the way Ramirez has played since August 1st, I don't see how you can pitch to Manny with runners on base, and a base open. The Phillies must control Ramirez and get the people they need to get out, out. It sounds simple enough but nothing is ever that easy.
The Phillies starters, especially after Cole Hamels, really need to step up and control the Dodgers and not allow big innings. Brett Myers pitched a lot better in the Division Series than I thought he would, and Jamie Moyer did exactly what I thought he would. Joe Blanton is the key for the Phillies. If he puts together a respectable start in game 4, then the Phillies will have a slight advantage in my mind. As for the offense, obviously Ryan Howard and Chase Utley need to get going, but Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are the keys. If they cannot get on base then it won't really matter. Pat Burrell and Jason Werth also need to start producing a bit more as well.
The Dodgers need to pitch like they have all year. Their bullpen is very good, and their starters are very good as well. Derek Lowe has been on fire lately and I expect him to pitch very well. Chad Billingsly and Hiroki Kuroda were both very good in their postseason starts as well.
On the offensive side of things for the Dodgers, as I stated above, Matt Kemp, Andre Either, Russell Martin, and James Loney really all need to have a nice series. I really expect Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to pitch around and walk Ramirez when the opportunity arises, leaving the duty of run producing to this core group of up and coming stars. If those four players can consistently get on base and score, I just don't see how the Phillies can compete.
Phillies in 7. This is a truely tough series to call. The Dodgers could win this as could the Phillies. I expect this series to be the best series of the postseason so far (and possibly the whole thing), with the Phillies coming out on top in the end due to Rollins, Utley, and Howard all getting on track. I expect no blow outs in this series, with all the games being very close.