A capsule look at Rockies-Phillies playoff series

Oct 7, 2009 - 12:06 AM A look at the best-of-five National League division series between the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies:

Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Wednesday, at Philadelphia (2:37 p.m.); Game 2, Thursday, at Philadelphia (2:37 p.m.); Game 3, Saturday, at Denver (9:37 p.m.; x-Game 4, Sunday, at Denver (TBA); x-Game 5, Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Philadelphia (TBA). (All games on TBS).

x-if necessary.

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Season Series: Philadelphia won 4-2.

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Projected Lineups=

Rockies: CF Dexter Fowler (.266, 4 HRs, 34 RBIs, 27 SBs), LF Carlos Gonzalez (.284, 13, 29), 1B Todd Helton (.325, 15, 86, 38 2Bs), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.297, 32, 92, 25 2Bs, 9 3Bs), RF Brad Hawpe (.285, 23, 86, 42 2Bs), C Yorvit Torrealba (.291, 2, 31), 3B Ian Stewart (.228, 25, 70), 2B Clint Barmes (.245, 23, 76).

Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins (.250, 21, 77, 100 runs, 31 SBs), CF Shane Victorino (.292, 10, 62, 102 runs, 25 SBs), 2B Chase Utley (.282, 31, 93, 112 runs, 23 for 23 SBs), 1B Ryan Howard (.279, 45, 141, 105 runs), RF Jayson Werth (.268, 36, 99, 20 SBs), LF Raul Ibanez (.272, 34, 93), 3B Pedro Feliz (.266, 12, 82), C Carlos Ruiz (.255, 9, 43).

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Projected Rotations=

Rockies: RH Ubaldo Jimenez (15-12, 3.47 ERA, 198 Ks), RH Aaron Cook (11-6, 4.16), RH Jason Hammel (10-8, 4.33).

Phillies: LH Cliff Lee (7-4, 3.39 in 12 starts with Phillies after trade from Cleveland; 14-13, 3.22 overall), LH Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32), RH Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05) or RH Pedro Martinez (5-1, 3.63 in 9 starts) or LH J.A. Happ (12-4, 2.93).

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Relievers=

Rockies: RH Huston Street (4-1, 3.06, 35/37 saves), LH Franklin Morales (3-2, 4.50, 7/8 saves), RH Matt Daley (1-1, 4.24), RH Jason Marquis (15-13, 4.04 in 33 starts), RH Matt Belisle (3-1, 5.52), RH Rafael Betancourt (3-1, 1.78 since trade from Cleveland), RH Jose Contreras (1-0, 1.59).

Phillies: RH Brad Lidge (0-8, 7.21, 31/42 saves), RH Ryan Madson (5-5, 3.26, 10/16 saves), RH Brett Myers (4-3, 4.84 in 18 games, 8 relief appearances), RH Clay Condrey (6-2, 3.00), RH Chad Durbin (2-2, 4.39), LH Scott Eyre (2-1, 1.50).

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Matchups=

This series between the past two NL champions is a rematch of the 2007 division series swept by the Rockies in three games en route to their only World Series appearance, where they were swept by Boston after a long layoff. The 2007 matchup was supposed to be a slugfest between two high-scoring teams playing in hitter-friendly ballparks. But the Rockies held Philadelphia to eight runs in three games, including a 4-2 victory at Citizens Bank Park and a 2-1 win at Coors Field. ... The Rockies finished 41-40 away from home this season, their first winning record on the road in club history. ... Colorado is the only team in the majors to get double-digit wins from all five of its starting pitchers. ... Colorado sports one of the best benches in baseball. If Fowler starts in center and Gonzalez in left, that leaves the Rockies with sensational pinch-hitter Seth Smith, who led the majors with a .472 batting average in that role. Also, there's Jason Giambi providing more punch from the left side, Garrett Atkins offering pop from the right side, Eric Young Jr. bringing blazing speed to the basepaths and Chris Iannetta boasting both power at the plate and deft defense behind it. Plus, there's Ryan Spilborghs, whose grand slam in the 14th inning beat San Francisco on Aug. 24, the team's signature win. ... Philadelphia is 8-3 against the Rockies since the 2007 NLDS, including 4-1 at Coors Field. ... Utley batted .421 (8 for 19) vs. Rockies this season. ... Howard had no homers in 24 at-bats vs. Colorado. ... Werth had an .826 slugging percentage vs. Rockies. ... Lee beat the Rockies in August in his only career start against the them, allowing one run in seven innings. ... Hamels is 0-2 against Colorado, including 2007 NLDS. ... Blanton has never faced the Rockies. ... Martinez is 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA in six career games in Denver.

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Big Picture=

Rockies: Colorado finished a franchise-best 92-70, including 74-42 after Jim Tracy took over as manager when Clint Hurdle was fired May 29. The Rockies were 18-28 at the time and general manager Dan O'Dowd said he wasn't expecting miracles. The team fell to 20-32 on June 3 and then suddenly turned it around, going on a 17-1 run that recalled their 21-1 run-up to the 2007 World Series. Since June 4, the Rockies own the second-best record in the majors (72-38), just behind the New York Yankees (72-37). Colorado nearly became the first club to overcome a 15 1/2-game deficit to win its division, but came up short against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers on the final weekend of the season. ... The Rockies are appearing in the playoffs for the third time in their 17-year history. All three trips have come as the wild card. ... Tracy provided stability to the clubhouse by giving position players and pitchers defined roles. No longer would they come to the ballpark unsure of what was expected of them, and they thrived under his tutelage and hands-off approach in the clubhouse. ... Colorado missed out on the playoffs last year and in the offseason sent slugger Matt Holliday to Oakland for Street and Gonzalez. ... Helton finished with his highest batting average since 2004 and 61 points better than his injury-plagued 2008 season. ... The Rockies owned the best second-half record in the NL at 45-29.

Phillies: Coming off their third straight NL East title, the Phillies (93-69) are trying to become the first team to repeat as World Series champions since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000. Charlie Manuel's team didn't have to play catch-up this season, leading the division since May 30. ... After a tough start at home, the Phillies were 32-14 at Citizens Bank Park from July 1 on. They had the best road record in the majors at 48-33. ... The Phillies hit a franchise-record 224 homers and became the 12th team in major league history to have four players with 30. ... The bullpen, which was the team's strength during last year's championship run, is decimated by injuries and inconsistency. It's unknown whether Lidge, who has 11 blown saves, or Madson will be the closer. Lidge looked sharp in his last two outings and could get the ball with the game on the line. Happ, who was the most consistent starter, likely will end up in the bullpen because the Phillies are short on left-handers and he's been effective in any role. ... A potent lineup boasts power and speed. No other NL team had 200 homers and 100 steals. ... Fans flocked to the ballpark in Philadelphia, selling it out 73 times and setting a club attendance record.

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Watch For=

- Rockies Rotation. Colorado was the only team in the majors to have five starters reach 10 wins, and that depth will be tested. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (16-9, 4.38 ERA) will miss the series because of an injured left groin, so Hammel is slated to start Game 3. Marquis, an All-Star in July, will be in the bullpen for the first three games. De La Rosa went 16-3 after starting 0-6 and led the majors with 16 wins after June 1. If the Rockies advance, he could return for the NL championship series.

- Closing Time. Will Lidge get a chance to be the Phillies' closer after blowing 11 saves during the regular season? He was 48 for 48 last year, including the postseason, but never came close to matching that dominance this year. Manuel brought him in for the final out of the division clincher, perhaps tipping his plans for the playoffs.

- Troy Terrific: Tulowitzki thrived under Tracy's tutelage and quickly proved he can be that rare shortstop who excels in the cleanup role. He nearly became the first shortstop in major league history to hit 30-plus homers and field .990. He has 55 RBIs since the All-Star break and is the ninth SS in major league history to have 20-plus homers and 20-plus stolen bases.

- Hollywood Hamels. The left-hander thrived under pressure last October, living up to his nickname and earning NLCS and World Series MVP honors. But he couldn't carry that success over into this season and didn't pitch like an ace too often. If he's cool and unflappable again with the stakes high, the Phillies have a good chance to repeat.






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