All right, baseball fans, the NLCS and ALCS are poised to throw their first pitches as the path to the World Series continues.
And these two LCS series, more than any other in recent memory, feature pitching match-ups that are a dream for baseball purists. The Phillies may have the three best starters with which any team has ever entered the postseason. And the Yankees are not far behind. That should make for some great LCS games…and two very deserving teams heading to the World Series.
In the NLCS, it’s Charlie Manuel’s Phillies hosting Bruce Bochy’s San Francisco Giants. For the Phillies, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels will start Games One, Two and Three respectively. All Halladay will be doing in the first game (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, Citizens Bank Park) is looking for his second consecutive postseason no-hitter! Only Cincinnati Reds’ pitcher Johnny Vandermeer (in 1938 v. the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers) has ever thrown two consecutive no-nos. The odds are long at Halladay achieving the distinction, but would you want to face him in Game One? Neither would I. Following the Halladay machine with Oswalt and Hamels (the 2008 World Series MVP) is going to make life almost unbearable for the Giants – especially because creating offence is not their strong suit. In fact, it would not surprise me if old San Fran failed to get a run in each of those three games.
Now, on the good side, they do have The Freak, Tim Lincecum, going in Game One against Rocket Roy. The Phillies began the 2008 World Series with Hamels, Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer. Think they’re stronger this time around? Me too. Then again, the Houston Astros began the 2005 World Series with Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt. They got swept. Put my money on the Phils reaching their third consecutive Fall Classic.
In the ALCS, Joe Girardi’s Yankees will throw Ron Washington’s surprising Texas Rangers everything they’ve got. CC Sabathia (Game One, Friday, 8:00 PM ET, Rangers Ballpark at Arlington), Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are formidable, for sure. The Rangers have their own weapon in Cliff Lee but, because he can’t start Game One for the Rangers – C.J. Wilson will do that – Lee may only get two starts in the ALCS. That’s the price Texas pays for having to go the limit against the Rays in the NLDS. The difference between the Yankees and the Phillies is offence. Make no mistake, the Phillies are talented, but the Yankees are dominant. Unless Texas phenom Josh Hamilton hits about .650 with 79 total bases, the Rangers are going to be in tough.
There are no holes in the Yankees’ line-up. In their three-game, NLDS sweep over the Minnesota Twins, CF Curtis Granderson was the star. And he hits in the eight spot! Who do the Rangers pitch around? Answer: no one. Good luck, Texas. The Yankees will waltz into their second consecutive World Series.
The last time two teams, with the same managers, met in two consecutive World Series was in…ready for it…1958! New York Yankees, under Casey Stengel, squared off against Fred Haney’s Milwaukee Braves! And, if you think this year’s LCS pitching match-ups are good, wait until Game One of the World Series – when the Yankees and Phillies face each other for the second consecutive season.