Finishing up the NLDS is the first series to start as we have a rematch between the Phillies and Rockies from 2007. Of course, back then, both teams made incredible runs to get to the playoffs; now they both kind of coasted in, though the Rockies did have to fire Clint Hurdle to get going in June. Let's see where these two stand:
1B: Todd Helton vs. Ryan Howard- If this was the Todd Helton of ten years ago, he would win. Even now, Helton is a key hitter and can always be counted on to hit .300 for Colorado. Howard continues to follow the Albert Pujols plan of consistently good seasons, posting another 45-HR, 140-RBI season this year. Helton is more get on base, continue/start a rally, Howard is empty the bases on one swing, plus he plays good defense. Advantage Phillies
2B: Clint Barmes vs. Chase Utley- Barmes has had his moments this year, and is among the Rockies best power hitters, but Chase Utley is arguably the best second baseman in baseball. If he's not, he's certainly in the class of Robbie Cano, Aaron Hill and Dustin Pedroia. Advantage Phillies
SS: Troy Tulowitzki vs. Jimmy Rollins- Initially, I was thinking that Rollins is the advantage because he's a clutch hitter and is great defensively. However, Tulowitzki was the best player in the Rockies lineup and is reverting back to 2007-level, which for this team is always a good thing. Advantage Rockies
3B: Ian Stewart vs. Pedro Feliz- Bonus points for Stewart for having my middle and last name. As for real baseball matters, Stewart has power, but can't hit for average, while Feliz might not have the numbers of the rest of his lineup, but from time to time, he comes up with a big hit, like most of the rest of this team does. Advantage Phillies
OF: I'm grouping the OF's together because it's not really close. Raul Ibanez is much better than Seth Smith, Shane Victorino is more valuable than Dexter Fowler and maybe Brad Hawpe is as good as Jayson Werth, except he might not play a lot of this series since the Phillies can throw lefties most of the time. Advantage Phillies
Catcher: Chris Iannetta/Yorvit Torrealba vs. Carlos Ruiz- While Ruiz was huge in the World Series for the Phillies last year and you can make the case he should have been MVP, the tandem of Iannetta and Torreabla have done a terrific job in tandem and have been as strong as any catcher platoon in recent memory in which both guys bring something to the table more than just "I can catch knuckleballs" and "A.J. likes me better". Advantage Rockies
Starting pitching: The Phillies have the better upside as Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are the two best pitchers in this series. What I don't know is if Lee will go on three days rest so both can start four of the five games. Also, the third starter is a question mark and even Hamels and Lee aren't givens. Meanwhile, the Rockies have a assembled a very solid pitching staff who doesn't depend on one guy. They don't have to worry about a "Game 4 do we need to pitch so-and-so" because they know Jason Marquis can handle it. The only reason I don't give the Rockies the advantage is that Lee and Hamels can dominate. Even
Bullpen: We all know the questions with the Phillies bullpen start with closer as Brad Lidge can no longer be trusted in a late-inning situation. They have Ryan Madson and Brett Myers who I think are as good as Lidge (not saying much). Add that J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre are hurting, leaving the Phillies without a lefty reliever unless they use J.A. Happ out of the bullpen. The Rockies on the other hand have the best bullpen of any NL team led by Huston Street and Franklin Morales, both of whom can close. This matchup really isn't close. Advantage Rockies
Bench: The Phillies have been terrific in bringing in guys like Eric Bruntlett, Ben Francisco, Matt Stairs and Greg Dobbs and they always seem to do something in every game. For the Rockies, Jason Giambi has been a huge acquisition and they can get help from Ryan Spilborghs, Carlos Gonzalez and Eric Young Jr. Even
Manager: Jim Tracy vs. Charlie Manuel- You can't discount how the Rockies played under Tracy, bouncing from 12 under .500 in June to a relatively easy wild card winner. However, Manuel is the perfect manager for this ball club and you can't argue against a championship. Advantage Phillies
Intangibles: The Rockies and Philles both have a been there before quality that makes each a tough out. For the Rockies, it's a belief they will catch fire, while the Phillies have a "anyone of us will get the big hit" quality. The Rockies share the Phillies trait, but the Phillies can look at last year's title for inspiration. Even
The Rockies will win if: They play like they have since June meaning everyone contributes and starters pitch big; Philadelphia can't fix the bullpen; Lee and Hamels never come around; Howard and Utley go into slumps.
The Phillies will win if: Either Lidge regains last year's form or Madson fits the closer role like a glove; Lee and Hamels pitch like aces; they can get something out of Pedro; the lineup hits like they're supposed and Rockies lineup does the same.
Prediction: Phillies in five