Last year's Cubs would have loved this series.
Between the Phillies and Dodgers, five lefthanded starters (Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw and Randy Wolf) are likely to start the majority of games in the NLCS, which begins tonight in Los Angeles -- and that's not to mention the solid lefthanded relievers both teams have (George Sherrill, Hong-Chih Kuo, and ex-Cub Scott Eyre -- who now has a blog; who knew?).
Meanwhile, the two teams involved are heavily laden with lefthanded power hitters (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, James Loney and Andre Ethier). Will anyone score runs in this series?
Seriously, as we learned this season, handedness among hitters is overrated. Both teams have good hitters -- and the Dodgers have plenty of good right-handed hitters, too -- and it really shouldn't matter what side of the plate you hit from, as long as you can hit. Both teams scored a ton of runs during the regular season: the Phillies led the league with 820 runs scored (still fewer than the 855 the Cubs scored in 2008) and the Dodgers were fourth with 780. The Dodgers had better all-around pitching, leading the league in ERA (3.41) and fewest runs allowed (611). The Phillies' overall pitching was more pedestrian; their 4.16 ERA was a distant sixth behind the Cubs' 3.84.
However, as we have learned to our bitter disappointment the last two years, it doesn't matter what you do in the regular season; the playoffs are a "what have you done for me lately" dance. One of the keys for the Phillies in their series with the Rockies is that they got 2008-level performance out of Brad Lidge, who had a horrific regular season but nailed down two games in the division series despite a bit of shaky pitching -- that had to do wonders for his confidence. The acquisition of Cliff Lee made the Phillies' rotation as good as the Dodgers', and Lee posted a 1.10 ERA in two NLDS starts. LA also has an outstanding closer in Jonathan Broxton, and the acquisition of Sherrill from Baltimore solidified their setup relief.
These teams are pretty evenly matched. The NLCS hasn't gone seven games since that yawner of a seven-gamer between the Cardinals and Mets in 2006, but I say this one goes seven, and the Dodgers go to the World Series.
Once again, no overflows scheduled today. If you need one, post it in the FanShot section.
Discuss amongst yourselves.