Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Three Questions About The NLDS With Purple Row

We are literally just minutes away from the beginning of the MLB Playoffs with Colorado and Philadelphia leading the way. In a match-up between one of baseball’s best pitching teams (Colorado) and hitting teams (Philadelphia) we’ve invited the Colorado Rockies blog Purple Row to share some insights with us.

In 2007 the Rockies swept this series on their way to the World Series. Is there anything that either team can bring from that series into this one (confidence, tendencies, revenge) or is that ancient history by now?

PR: I'm gonna go ahead and say no to this notion. There's a big difference between the 2007 Rockies and the 2009 Rockies. The 2007 Rockies were a relatively young team, roughly no playoff experience (I mean, like Matt Herges had some with SF, but nobody really substantial). The were probably a legitimately 83-85 win team, but they caught fire at just the right time and had that unprecedented run into October, capped with the miraculous play-in game vs SD.

The 2009 Rockies featured some young players as well, but the pitching staff had far more major league experience, basically the Rockies have really started playing to ability and were able to sustain success from June through the end of the season (with a couple of hot streaks to help recover from their early struggles). Essentially, the team has arrived and is nicely poised to sustain this successful season.

In terms of bringing something into this series from 2007, Colorado swept Philly, so we have no ill will there. Philly won the WS last year, so they've more or less forgotten 2007, or at least it's greatly diminished in their minds. The differences will be that the guys who were young and fresh, such as Hamels, Jimenez, and Tulowitzki, are more seasoned and have those 2 extra years of veteraniness about them.

Colorado has a deep rotation with five pitchers registering 10 wins or more. Conversely the Phillies have a pretty stout lineup as well with a combined 224 homeruns and four players with 30 or more homers. How confident are you in either Colorado’s pitching or Philadelphia’s hitting?

PR: I'd be more concerned from Philadelphia’s end! Out of the 8 teams in the postseason, only St. Louis and LA's pitching staffs rank ahead of the Rockies in terms of HR prevention (and even then, Busch Stadium played as a very home run suppressing park as compared to, say Coors or The Cit - which makes Pujols that much more impressive).

However, on the flip side of the coin, the Rockies are 2nd to Philly in home runs hit, but Philly's pitching is 2nd to last in the NL in terms of HR prevention (3rd in the majors). Don't play your "but the Cit" card, Coors Field still is a more homer-friendly park!

So to answer the question, I take our pitching over their hitting.

Colorado pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (4.38 ERA) won’t be a factor in this series due to injury. What does that mean for either team?

PR: Well my initial response was going to be "Strong LHP gone" but Philly has hit lefties and righties relatively the same this season - actually lefties a little harder. What this does to Colorado is it takes a pitcher who's been absolutely awesome this season past the first 2 months of the season (can we just strike April and May from the record? That'd clinch Home Field for Colorado, I'm pretty sure...). He's set franchise high marks for strikeouts per 9 innings, and if you saw the 4 innings he was able to muster in his final start vs LA before he got hurt, he has just disgusting stuff (.597 OPS allowed in Sept/Oct).

Prediction time. Tell us who’ll win and in how many games.

PR: I'm so awful at this part. I've been saying Rockies in 4 (steal one from Hamels in Philly, sweep Coors), but with the loss of DLR, we'll be seeing some combination of Contreras and Marquis in game 4, and that just doesn't make me comfortable at all. I'll stick with Rockies in 4, but a Game 5 isn't out of the scope of reality to me.

You can follow the Rockies through the Post Season at Purple Row. Our guest blogger today posts there under the name, RockiesMagicNumber.