Major League Baseball

2011 NLDS Predictions & Preview – Inside the Wheelhouse

Roy HalladayOctober Baseball is here and after 162 games we have narrowed it down to just eight teams who will be vying for the World Series Championship. In this blog we will be looking at the National League and the four teams who will be looking to advance to the National League Championship Series next week! Let’s take a look at the upcoming National League Divisional Series!

Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals

What a strange twist of fate for the Philadelphia Phillies as if they did not defeat the Braves in Game #162 then they wouldn’t be playing the Cardinals in the NLDS. So before Game 1 of the NLDS this Saturday I hope every member of the Cardinals roster thanks the Phillies for doing such. The last time a Philadelphia sports figure helped put another team into the playoffs? DeSean Jackson’s return against the Giants kept the Green Bay Packers alive and well, you know how that ended…

Back to Baseball here and we actually have a really good matchup here & not one that immediately screams “the Phillies are going to the NLCS.” I think Phillies fans believe that there is no sure win in Baseball postseason battles, just look to last season when it was all but signed, sealed & delivered when the Giants advanced to the 2010 NLCS. The Phils were caught off guard and the Giants advanced en-route to a World Series Championship, I don’t see lighting striking twice for the Phillies though this postseason.

Philadelphia obviously surpasses the St. Louis Cardinals when it comes to a starting rotation, especially in a 5 game format. The Phils will be sending up Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in Games 1 & 2 while Cole Hamels will pick up the scrapes (and a potential sweep) in Game 3. The Cards have their work cut out for them in the NLDS most certainly.

Now if the Cards had Adam Wainwright in the rotation at all this season I might say that Games 1 & 2 is pretty well matched with Chris Carpenter in the mix. That isn’t the case this season for the Cardinals and it showed in the standings as it took 162 games to get to this point to reach the postseason. Had they had Wainwright I fully expect this team to be the 2nd best team in the NL.

The Cards can’t match pitch for pitch with the Phillies because it would be just too hard for their rotation to go up against the superb Phils rotation. What the Cardinals have to do is prove why they have one of the better offenses in Baseball. Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and (if healthy) Matt Holliday need to out “big 3” the Phillies “big 3” (some may say 4) of Rollins, Utley & Howard (and Pence for the “Big 4” lovers of the world).

St. Louis only chances of winning this series lies within that theory. I still believe one of the Phillies biggest weaknesses is their lineup, Utley & Rollins health is questionable, you never know what Howard you will get and this is Pence’s first trip to the Postseason. If St. Louis can keep it close for 6 to 7 innings and put it to the rotation then there is a good chance to win ballgames given the track record of the Phillies bullpen in the postseason.

But like I said, stars need to align for something like that to occur. The Phillies are the best team in Baseball and like I said in an earlier blog for the CCB, I believe that all roads this postseason go straight towards Philly. There is no denying the talent on that diamond from the lineup to the rotation and quite frankly to the improved bullpen with Blanton & Worley thrown in there now. The Phillies have the formula to win a World Series and just need the equation to fulfill what they believe is their destiny for the 2011 season.

The Phillies will not roll all over the Cardinals; this is still a team with Albert Pujols on it and managed by a World Series manager in Tony LaRussa. This will be a much tougher first round matchup for the Phillies then they have seen in years past and it will be a good series for Baseball fans to watch. But the fans that will be celebrating when this is over will be those that reside in Philadelphia, you just can’t stop this machine, not at this stage of the postseason at least.

Prediction: Phillies win series 3-1

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Baseball fan in me really loves this matchup for the postseason. Out of any of the four matchups this may be the most exciting because of the implications of this series. Both these teams are poised from my viewpoint as teams that could fill the mold of what the San Francisco Giants did last season.

They are playing with house money in a sense, most people didn’t think they would be here and people believe that come 2012 they won’t be in October Baseball either. These two ballclubs are the definition of a “team,” they don’t lay their laurels on the free agent market, they don’t make big trades, they develop or piece together the puzzle with trades they think will fit to make a good team. They very well could be teams that get “streaky” just at the right time ala the 2010 San Francisco Gaints.

Even before the start of the season I felt like the Milwaukee Brewers had a starting rotation that could easily matchup well with the Philadelphia Phillies. They made the deals for Shawn Marcum & Zack Greinke and still had Yovano Gallardo & Randy Wolf. Milwaukee had a 4 man tandem to at least compete with the bar that was set in Philadelphia and they proved that by winning the NL Central this season.

The Brewers want to keep Prince Fielder badly, replays of 2008 when they did the best they could to win a World Series and keep CC Sabathia in town is still replaying in their fans & their front offices mind. They realize that the best way they can sell Prince Fielder on staying in Milwaukee is by winning and bringing a World Series to Milwaukee. Ryan Braun is a lot older from the 2008 run, Rickie Weeks is getting healther and Cory Hart & Nyjer Morgan have helped put together a really good lineup for the Brew crew, this team could help keep Prince as a Brewer.

But don’t sleep on the NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. This team is mirroring teams “that weren’t supposed to be here” like the ’97 Florida Marlins. They are young, they are hungry and they know the experts don’t believe in them. Why not turn Baseball on its head and give em something to go crazy about & run the table in the Postseason?

This rotation reminds me a lot of the Oakland Athletics of the early 2000s with the young pitchers they showcase on a night to night basis. You have Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson & Josh Collmenter for the youngsters and veteran Joe Saunders rounding out the rest of the rotation. It’s similar in theory to the Milwaukee Brewers rotation and should make for a really fun pitching battle in the NLDS.

As for the lineup…name one other player on their team not named Justin Upton. Ready, set, go. Having trouble? I thought you would.

But all because you can’t name them doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. Justin Upton is the centerpiece of this team and then you have Ryan Roberts, Chris Young, Miguel Montero & the recently acquired Aaron Hill as the supporting cast. They know that outside of Arizona no one believes in them and that’s fine because they hope for their bats to do much of the talking.

When it comes to the series itself I have to lean towards the Milwaukee Brewers in this one. While the 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks remind of the 1997 Florida Marlins when it comes to no one believing in them, the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers remind me of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies. This is a team that had a bad taste in their mouth in the last playoff run (ironically 2008) and hope to avenge that lackluster playoff run for their franchise.

This team, this franchise, this city and their fan base want Prince Fielder to stay. The nucleus in Milwaukee shouldn’t have to be broken up for the big dollars of another ballclub. The Brewers can help aide Prince Fielder’s decision by playing good baseball and by doing such when it counts. I believe they will do that and give the Phillies a pretty good test come NLCS time next week.

The series will be a Baseball series for the Baseball fan. I expect a lot of great pitching, a lot of great hitting and just all around good Baseball. I am very excited to sit down and watch the Brewers & D-Backs play in the NLDS as it should be a very fun series to watch.

Prediction: Brewers win series 3-1

Join Bower, “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause & myself every Sunday for more NFL & Fantasy Football talk over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected]

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Jeff Peck

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