Major League Baseball

Inside The Wheelhouse – NLCS Preview

Charlie Manuel NLCS: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Philadelphia Phillies and The Los Angeles Dodgers meet again in the National League Championship Series. One season ago it was the Philadelphia Phillies defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS in 5 games on their way to the World Series trophy. The magical run the Los Angeles Dodgers had was over, Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez were sent home a round earlier then expected by most.

Last season many people including myself had the Los Angeles Dodgers listed as the favorites in the 2008 NLCS series, now one year later and a World Series trophy in the case of the Phillies; it appears that Philadelphia is going into this year’s NLCS as the favorites. They have the pitching of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Pedro Martinez and Joe Blanton to take on the combination of a young/journeyman rotation that the Dodgers have put together of Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla and Jonathon Broxton.

It would be natural to select the Philadelphia Phillies to win the NLCS. They do have the “Big 3” in Major League Baseball with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Add Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino to the lineup and you have six solid hitters that can easily beat you with one swing of the bat whether by homerun or by a liner down the line. The Phillies lineup is scary, 2nd only to the New York Yankees lineup in the American League.

But the Dodgers are coming off of a three game sweep of probably the most impressive sweep in the entire playoffs by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. The St. Louis Cardinals were a team in my opinion that could have won the entire postseason and celebrated in Missouri with the World Series trophy. The Dodgers sweep of the Cardinals is by far the biggest shock of the entire playoffs.

This Dodgers team is coming into the playoffs with a new attitude and they are determined to win the National League Championship and head to the World Series. Don’t think Matt Kemp, Andre Either and Manny Ramirez have forgotten about last season’s quick exit in the NLCS by the Phillies last year. The Dodgers were supposed to be the team last year, Mannyland was taking off in California, Joe Torre brought this team to the top! But that wasn’t meant to be because the Phillies were the team of destiny.

One year later and the shoes are on the other side of the foot. The Phillies are the “it” team in the National League while the Dodgers are the team that doesn’t belong there, in the way of the Phillies chance to repeat. This Dodgers team is trying to play spoiler and spoiler they will play.

This series is going to be one of the most exciting series in the entire postseason in my opinion. Low scoring games with great pitching from the rotation and bullpen setting up late inning heroics to carry their teams to victory and the NLCS crown. One team is filled with a squad of veteran players that have tasted victory once before and want it again, while the other team is filled with young players with veteran guidance on & off the field.
This series screams 7 games to crown a National League Champion. Leaving every fan Philadelphia to Los Angeles and everywhere in between in a near heart attack state. The band-aid pitching rotation that the Los Angeles are piecing together to take on the Phillies will go toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye, pitch-for-pitch with the amazing Philadelphia Phillies rotation.

But when the dust settles and one team is left standing it will be the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the year for redemption in the Postseason for many franchises. Whether it is the Angels getting the Red Sox monkey off their back, the Yankees getting past the ALDS or the Dodgers beating the Phillies on their way to the World Series; this is the Postseason for redemption and storylines that Fox will be eating up. Setting up the final chapter of redemption between the Joe Torre led Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees in the 2009 World Series.

I’m sure Fox television network executives are praying for that World Series.

It will be a back forth series but the heart and determination the Dodgers have right now is unmatched and dangerous for any team that gets in their way in the playoffs. Torre is the most successful manager in Baseball history by doing what he has done with two completely different franchises and turning them into elite sports franchises. Add Matt Kemp and Andre Either, the two players that will become national stars in this series and you have the ingredients for a World Series run.

The Phillies have too many issues in their bullpen and in their starting rotation to combat this confident Dodgers ballclub. Cliff Lee is the glue holding the Phillies pitching together while Cole Hamels is losing confidence (and at the wrong time to do it) and Pedro Martinez is getting old. Pedro did not play entire season but he is also not the Pedro Martinez for the 90s and early 2000s. Joe Blanton has the best chance to be the dark horse in the Phillies rotation in the NLCS.

The Phillies bullpen is just to “hot and cold.” While Brad Lidge looked good in the NLDS and is starting to regain that shut down confidence that Phillies fans are hoping returns, it will only take one shot from a Matt Kemp, Andre Either or even James Loney to shake that confidence out of the once dominate closer in Philadelphia.

This series will go the distance but in the end it will come down to who is the team that is better managed and in this situation I have to go with Joe Torre. He can turn nothing into something and make it a success. This team does not appear as dominate as they were projected to be a year ago in October and I’m sure Joe Torre likes it that way.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will win the National League Championship Series in the allotted seven games needed. Both teams will push each other to the maximum point and put on a hell of a Baseball classic in October. Sorry Philadelphia, the chances of winning back-to-back Championships in this Baseball climate is hard to do. The Dodgers are on a collision course to the World Series and to the Bronx.

Prediction: Dodgers win series 4-3

NLCS MVP: Andre Ethier

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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