The phenomenon that was the Philadelphia bullpen seems to have been forgotten as the Phillies’ ‘pen closed out the NLCS against the Dodgers last night with a 10-4 victory. The Phillies, the defending world champions, went into the postseason with probably the most inconsistent bullpen of the eight playoff teams. Brad Lidge, who was about as solid a closer as there was last year, had struggled over the course of the regular season with blown saves, bad decision making and incosistency. This was a big worry as many skeptics came about believing the Phillies would fall due to their bullpen. Those skeptics have been silenced for the time being as the Phillies bullpen has been nearly flawless throughout this postseason.
Last night’s picture of Brad Lidge pumping his fist is reminiscent of last season’s fist pumping as he closed out the World Series. Well, with only one more series to win, we could well be seeing this again very soon. But then again, we can’t forget about the Yankees.
The Yanks are on the verge of clinching a trip to the world series. With their ALCS lead, the Yanks are one win away to making one step closer to their 27th World Championship in franchise history. With phenominal pitching, the most explosive offense in the league and a consistent and solid bullpen, the Yankees are definitely the team to beat. The Phillies are a fantastic group of baseball players with some outstanding athletes up and down their roster, but the Yankees really have a group of guys that can match up with the best teams in the history of the MLB. If the Yankees beat the Angels today in their game five of the ALCS, they will advance onto the World Series and will create a matchup that is definitely not worth missing. Here’s a look at how the Yanks and Phils will matchup assuming the Yankees defeat the Angels. (No offense to the Angels of any Angels fans out there but it certainly looks as if the Yankees are going to advance to the World Series).
The two leadoff batters are certainly two guys that can lead off a game with big hit, spark a rally, or make a key defensive play. Both veterans of the league, Jeter and Rollins will top off the top two lineups in baseball.
Jeter has been a number two hitter most of his career and isn’t your typical leadoff hitter. Now, I’m not saying it’s like a usual number four hitter batting leadoff but more like a number two guy batting first. Jeter is definitely capable of producing in the leadoff spot, I’m mean look at his stats from this year. Joe Girardi’s decision to move Johnny Damon to the second spot in the lineup and move Jeter up one has proven successful as they have put up some staggering numbers.
Jimmy Rollins on the other hand is your typical leadoff guy. A guy that can get on base, run and score runs with ease. That’s what you generally think of in a leadoff guy. Not that Jeter can’t do that but Rollins fits the profile better due to the way the Phillies offense runs. Rollins came up with a big hit late in game 4 against the Dodgers where he drove in the winning run from first to pu the Phils up 3-1 in the series. J-Rol is clearly a great guy to start off your lineup with.
Johnny Damon, as I stated already, was moved down to the second spot in the lineup by Joe Girardi at the beginning of the season. The main reason for this was to let Jeter do his magic with his bat and let Damon, who can hit for power, hit in a more key spot with guys on base. Now, again, this swop can go either way but it has obviously worked out the way it is currently. Damon can hit for power, drive some guys in, and can still run better than most people think he can. Watch out for Damon, you don’t really want to underestimate him.
“The Flyin’ Hawaiin” Shane Victorino has been a solid force at the second spot in the Phillies lineup for years now. The switch hitter can hit well from both sides of the plate, can generate some power (as shown last night when he hit a bomb to left field) and can really run. This guy can really carry a team with his speed because with the guys following him in the lineup, he will most likely get to score some runs. With his speed, he can easily get into scoring position to make it easier on the guys following him.
To me, this is the most intriguing matchup of any of the players on either roster. Mark Teixeira can field, hit and has a great smile. Chase Utley, exactly the same. Both guys can hit, field and are just a great presence on their respective squads. I can’t really compare them any further, they are just so similar.
Two guys with a lot of power and good gloves at their respective positions fill up the middle of the lineup. Ryan Howard is a powerful guy that probably doesn’t think anything other than homer when coming up to the plate. Alex Rodriguez has had a great career and his play this postseason has been a sight for sore eyes. He has been phenominal. Rodriguez may have a better glove than Howard, but Howard is the next power hitting phenomenon that will hit the MLB. Rodriguez went under that category when he came up with the Mariners and now the likes of Howard, Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval fit that list. These two will most certainly fill a very very important role in this series.
I honestly have to give the advantage to the Phillies and Jayson Werth in this matchup. Nothing against the long time Yankee but the fact that Jayson Werth can consistently hit for a lot of power and has driven in more runs than Posada, Werth has the advantage. Posada has been such a key to the Yankees for so long. A great pitch caller who has always called great games for Yankee pitchers. He has had his great offensive games and he has had his tough ones, just like every baseball player ever to live. This matchup right now goes to Werth but just wait and see, Posada will still play a key part in this sereis.
Again, Ibanez and Matsui are a great matchup of players in the lineup. Ibanez can still play the outfield whereas Matsui has had a bad knee keeping him from playing the field. This isn’t all that big of a deal since we have had plenty of guys fill in with quality games and very successful seasons. His bat is still going and he may be getting old, but he still has plenty in his tank to put in his two cents for this series.
Ibanez has surprised everyone in the league this year with his outstanding outbreak in offensive production. He opened the season with some great power but over the season it has decreased in power. He still has a lot of power and can go off any tme which makes him so dangerous. Both these guys can go off on you and can really hurt an opposing pitcher. Watch out Phillies and Yankees pitching.
Alright, sorry I couldn’t finish today but I’ll get the rest of my matchup analysis tomorrow. Stay tuned.
So, the midsummer classic is coming up and some of my pals have been bugging me to post my picks for the game. Now, most of them are no doubters but others people might have an argument against. Well here they are.
C: Joe Mauer (Twins)
1B: Mark Teixeira (Yankees)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)
3B: Evan Longoria (Rays)
SS: Derek Jeter (Yankees)
LF: Jason Bay (Red Sox)
CF: Curtis Granderson (Tigers)
RF: Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners)
P: Roy Halladay (Blue Jays)
C: Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
1B: Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
2B: Orlando Hudson (Dodgers)
3B: David Wright (Mets)
SS: Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)
LF: Ryan Braun (Brewers)
CF: Raul Ibanez (Phillies)
RF: Brad Hawpe
P: Tim Lincecum (Giants)
Now as you have probably noticed on many other ballots before, the AL squad is stacked with Yankees and Red Sox players. That is because they are the two best teams in the AL and they have the most All Star worthy players. So don’t yell at me because I picked them because one- they deserve it, and two- a ton of others have picked them in their ballots. Two Cards start at their own home stadium for the game (Pujols and Molina).
Nick Green. Not many people know about him. For those of you who don’t know Mr. Green, he is a 6 foot, 180 pound shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. Now, Green has been having a solid season, doing everything right. He’s hitting .292, has driven in 24 RBI coming into today, has played solid defense behind the Red Sox pitching staff, and has just been a great fit for this Red Sox team. So, over the course of the game, the Red Sox took the lead, the Braves tied it up, three Braves were ejected for arguing, and Nick Green hit a walk off homer. He took the first pitch the opposite way and wrapped it around the Pesky Pole in right. His reaction to the home run… well I don’t know how he said it exactly but it went something along the lines of this: I didn’t know it was a walk off until I saw the people running out onto the field. Well, congrats Nick Green. You’re having a great season so far and this just adds to it. Keep it up man.
Now, being a Yankee fan, I don’t normally congratulate Red Sox players on succeeding and don’t normally tell them to keep it up, but Nick Green is a young guy that is having a great season, despite not starting every day. He splits time with Julio Lugo. It’s good to see young guys do well in the big leagues despite what team they are on. It shows, me at least, that this league is going somewhere in the future. Hopefully he’s not juicing.
That’s another thing I’d like to take note of. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, there was an article on steroids. The article was in the Scorecard section of the magazine and was titled “Without a Clue.” One of the lines in the article was this. “Sportswriters are lost: should we celebrate big home run numbers or be sickened by them.” The article talked about a blogger blogging about Raul Ibanez’s hot start. I am tired of reading about steroids. I mean, it’s obviously ruining the sport but enough is enough. All we can do is continue testing and suspending those who get caught. Honestly, I don’t think there is anything else we can do.
So enough is enough. There is some hope in the future of baseball (Nick Green). That’s a good sign. Well, that’s all I got for today.
This past off-season was highlighted with the Yankees’ shopping spree in which they signed three of the top free agents on the market; Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira. But among all the noise that the Yankees were making, the defending champion Phillies were making their own moves, including one to bring former Seattle Mariners’ outfielder Raul Ibanez to Philly. Now, Ibanez has been very good over the last few seasons of his career. When the Phillies signed him, they were hoping he would be a good replacement for Pat Burrell, who left to the Rays as a free agent. Ibanez has proven to be more than a good replacement. He is the Phillies’ top offensive player so far this season. Here are some of his stats:
- .312 batting average
- 22 jacks
- 59 RBI
- .656 slugging percentage
- 164 total bases
This guy is just tearing it up. Now, a strained groin has him on the 15 day DL. What a kick in the groin. Ibanez’s STELLAR season so far is going to have to go on hold for a little bit. And the Phils… they lose their top offensive production. Not that they don’t have any more (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino), but this loss is a huge misfortune for the Phitting Phils.
Being the defending world champs, they have had a lot on their shoulders, as has any other defending champion team. They have pretty much lived up to their expectations of having another good season. But this loss might end up being fatal to their championship run. With the tough NL East, the Phils will definitely have their hands full.
Ibanez was on pace to easily be in the running for MVP. Others in the NL that could make a run for it this season may be Albert Pujols, his teammate Chase Utley, David Wright and Brad Hawpe (I know a lot of you don’t know him but he’s having a really good season for Colorado).
The strained groin might keep him out for the All Star game, which he has the most votes for among NL outfielders. He is just having a great season and this injury may have ruined it. Hopefully for the Phils, he can heal quickly and they can get him back in time to continue their run for the playoffs.