Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Cubs won season series, 5-2
Billy goats (1945), black cats at Shea Stadium (1969), Leon Durham's Gatorade-stained glove (1984) and the "Steve Bartman Incident" (2003) haunt Cubs fans and their doubt will permeate the team as well as the Windy City. And being exactly 100 years (1908) since the team's last World Series appearance, doesn't help in terms of applying more pressure for the team to "do it" this year.
Chicago starts Ryan Dempster (17-6) in tonight's opener and the right-hander has been great at Wrigley Field, going 14-3 with a 2.86 ERA. LA sends Derrick Lowe (14-11) to the bump so runs should be scarce in this one and if the Dodgers can steal the opener, they will then have the homefield advantage just like that.
With the addition of Manny Ramirez, LA not only gave themselves this chance to make the playoffs, but also an opportunity to make a run at winning it all as players like Ethier, Loney and Martin have stepped up their games not that ManRam's onboard.
The pitching matchups for Game 2 (Zambrano-Billingsley in Chitown) and Game 3 (Harden-Kuroda in LA) are set and there is no real homefield advantage in this best-of-5. The Cubs are reportedly worried about ace Zambrano as he hasn't pitched well since no hitting the Astros.
The Baby Bears have their best roster ever and with guys like DeRosa, Theriot and Soto all coming up big this year, expect Chicago to be offensive both at the Friendly Confines and Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers will rely heavily on Ramirez to provide the big bat and if Chicago's pitchers can quell Manny, they should win this series - but it may take all five games. CUBS.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Phillies won season series, 5-1
Probably feeling lucky just to be in the playoffs - they hadn't made the postseason since 1982 - the Brewers may be a bit worn out physically and emotionally after needing every last game of the 162-game regular season just to earn their spot in the NL playoffs. No doubt the BrewCrew will expect to win the starts by southpaw ace CC Sabathia (2-1, 0.83 ERA L3) but if CC's start is pushed back to Game 3, Milwaukee won't have enough days to work with and Sabathia will likely get just that one start.
With Braun, Hardy, Fielder, Cameron and Weeks, the Brewers can hang, but Philadelphia one ups them on offense with the likes of Howard, Burrell, Utley, Werth and Rollins, and will definitely not be outscored by the wild card winners.
The Brewers are still contemplating their rotation, but Manager Sveum is up against it with Sheets, Parra and Bush his only real options if Sabathia can't start in this afternoon's opener. The math and psychology heavily favors the Phillies in this one and you don't have to be a Phanatic to know who to side with. PHILLIES.