Between the Lines - 10-06-08

Oct 6, 2008 7:18 PM

Between the Lines by Kevin Stott |

NLCS PREVIEW

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

How important in Manny Ramirez? Without him, the Dodgers likely would not have made the postseason, but with him, anything and almost everything is possible. He is one of those guys that simply by his presence, makes all those around him that much better. And his loosey-goosey persona in the clubhouse, dugout and diamond makes it easier for his teammates to play looser – a big advantage in pressure games.

In the regular season, the home teams were completely dominant in this series, going a perfect 8-0. Philadelphia swept LA, 4-0 in the City of Brotherly Love, outscoring them, 27-5 in the process, while at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers made the Phils bleed some blue, returning the favor with a 4-0 sweep while outscoring Philly, 22-16. Quite obviously, the homefield advantage will be a big thing in this best-of-7 series.

The starting pitching is a push here with Hamels-Myers-Moyer likely going up against, in order, Lowe-Billingsley-Kuroda. The fourth starters on both rosters are a big variable with Blanton probably being the Phils fourth choice and rookie Kershaw or vet Maddux being LA’s fourth starter. The relief pitching is also a toss-up with Brad Lidge being virtually unstoppable late for the Phils and Broxton and Saito getting the job done in LA.

The lineups are the best they’ve been in years for these teams, with Philly having Rollins, Burrell, Werth, Victorino and Howard and the Dodgers having Kemp, Blake, Ethier, Loney, Martin, Furcal and ManRam – all solid hitters. Because of the addition of Ramirez, the offenses in this series are a wash.

This one’s going to go down to the wire with a big hit or a mistake possibly being the difference. As far as picking a winner for the series, I have to lean toward that postseason phenom Manny Ramirez and the magic he brings as he’s got it done everywhere he’s been – and how neat would it be to see the deadlocked-one back in Boston for the World Series? DODGERS.