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A capsule look at Brewers-Phillies playoff series


A capsule look at Brewers-Phillies playoff series
A look at the best-of-five National League division series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies:

Schedule (All times EDT): Game 1, Wednesday, at Philadelphia (3:07 p.m.); Game 2, Thursday, at Philadelphia (6:07 p.m.); Game 3, Saturday, at Milwaukee (6:37 p.m.); x-Game 4, Sunday, at Milwaukee (TBA); x-Game 5, Tuesday, Oct. 7, at Philadelphia (TBA). (All games on TBS).

x-if necessary.

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Season Series: Philadelphia won 5-1.

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Projected Lineups

Brewers: CF Mike Cameron (.243, 25 HRs, 70 RBIs), 3B Bill Hall (.225, 15, 55), LF Ryan Braun (.285, 37, 106), 1B Prince Fielder (.276, 34, 102, 84 BB), SS J.J. Hardy (.283, 24, 74), RF Corey Hart (.268, 20, 91), 2B Rickie Weeks (.234, 14, 46), C Jason Kendall (.246, 2, 49).

Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins (.277, 11, 59, 76 runs, 47 SB), RF Jayson Werth (.273, 24, 67, 20 SB), 2B Chase Utley (.293, 33, 104, 113 runs), 1B Ryan Howard (.251, 48, 146, 104 runs, 199 strikeouts), LF Pat Burrell (.250, 33, 86), CF Shane Victorino (.293, 14, 58, 36 SB, 102 runs), 3B Pedro Feliz (.249, 14, 58), C Carlos Ruiz (.219, 4, 34) or Chris Coste (.263, 9, 36).

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Projected Rotations

Brewers: RH Yovani Gallardo (0-0, 1.88), LH CC Sabathia (11-2, 1.65, 7 complete games in 17 starts with Milwaukee after July 7 trade from Cleveland; 17-10, 2.70, 5 shutouts and 10 CGs overall), RH Jeff Suppan (10-10, 4.96 ERA), RH Dave Bush (9-10, 4.18).

Phillies: LH Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09, 196 strikeouts), RH Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55), LH Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71), RH Joe Blanton (4-0, 4.20 with Phillies after July 17 trade from Oakland; 9-12, 4.69 overall).

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Relievers

Brewers: RH Salomon Torres (7-5, 3.49, 28/35 saves), RH Eric Gagne (4-3, 5.44, 10 saves), RH Guillermo Mota (5-6, 4.11), RH Seth McClung (6-6, 4.02), LH Brian Shouse (5-1, 2.81), LH Manny Parra (10-8, 4.39).

Phillies: RH Brad Lidge (2-0, 1.95, 41/41 saves), RH Ryan Madson (4-2, 3.05), LH J.C. Romero (4-4, 2.75), RH Chad Durbin (5-4, 2.87), RH Clay Condrey (3-4, 3.26), LH Scott Eyre (5-0, 4.21 with Phillies and Cubs; 3-0, 1.88 with Phillies).

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Matchups

Philadelphia's four-game sweep of the visiting Brewers in mid-September ended Ned Yost's tenure as Milwaukee manager. Yost was fired Sept. 15 and replaced by his former third base coach, Dale Sveum. ... The teams split a two-game set at Miller Park in April. ... Sabathia pitched three games on three days' rest to end the season. He hasn't faced the Phillies. The big lefty won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award with Cleveland, but was 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA in three playoff starts after pitching 241 innings during the regular season. This year, he totaled a major league-high 253 innings. Will he be worn out in October? He figures to start Game 2 against Philadelphia on three days' rest again, which would line him up for a potential Game 5 on full rest, for a change. ... There's a good chance the Brewers will be without oft-injured ace Ben Sheets, who tried to come back from elbow soreness last week but couldn't get through the third inning Saturday. Milwaukee might still have an ace up its sleeve, though. Gallardo made his first start Friday since tearing a knee ligament May 1 and gave up a run and three hits in four innings. In a start against Philadelphia in August 2007, Gallardo allowed one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings. ... In stark contrast to the Phillies' stellar bullpen, the Brewers cringe just about every time they turn to their relievers. Torres took over the closer's job in midseason after Gagne faltered, but appears to be out of gas (1-2, 8.53 ERA, 2 saves in September). Gagne actually is throwing the ball as well as he has all season heading into the playoffs, but can the Brewers really trust him in games of this magnitude? ... The Brewers batted only .206 against the Phillies this season, but hit eight homers in six games. Fielder was 7-for-20 with four homers in those games, and twice connected off Lidge. ... Rollins hit .538 against Milwaukee. Victorino batted .500, Utley .476 and Werth .292. ... Phillies pitchers had a 2.72 ERA against the Brewers, their lowest vs. any team. ... Philadelphia led the NL with 214 HRs. The pitching staff's 3.88 ERA was fourth best in the league. It posted a 3.65 ERA at home in a hitter-friendly ballpark. ... Phillies had the best stolen-base percentage (84.5) in the majors. They were 136-for-161.

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Big Picture

Brewers: Their first playoff appearance since 1982 didn't come easy, and it certainly wouldn't have come without the deal for Sabathia. The Brewers were 44-38 and in third place in the NL Central at the end of June, but began July on a winning streak that convinced general manager Doug Melvin the team was one major addition from being a playoff contender. So Melvin made the splash of the season by acquiring Sabathia for four prospects - and did it ever pay off. He pitched Milwaukee (90-72) into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season by throwing a four-hitter for a 3-1 victory over the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs. ... The Brewers went 20-7 in August and held a 5 1/2-game advantage in the wild-card race going into September, but began the month 3-11. After a four-game sweep by the Phillies, the Brewers took the extraordinary step of firing Yost with 12 games left in the season. Milwaukee lost four of the next five under Sveum, then won six of its last seven to take the wild card. Getting into the playoffs helped make up for last year's late collapse. ... Sveum wants to see the Brewers break out of their homer-or-bust offensive tendency, but his efforts to get the team to manufacture runs have met with mixed results so far. Even in winning six of their last seven, the Brewers didn't score consistently, needing big home runs to win games. ... Braun hurt his rib cage muscles in August and struggled through most of September. But he hit two huge home runs in the final week of the season.

Phillies: With 16 games left, manager Charlie Manuel's team trailed the Mets by 3 1/2 games in the NL East and were four games behind wild card-leading Milwaukee. For the second year in a row, they played their best down the stretch. A four-game sweep over the Brewers got the Phillies going and they won 12 of 15 to clinch their second straight division title on the next-to-last day. ... After being swept out of the first round by Colorado last year, the Phillies (92-70) won't be satisfied with simply reaching the postseason this time. Every player and coach emphasized during a slightly less subdued celebration following the division clincher that the only goal is to win it all. ... Philadelphia is seeking to win a postseason game for the first time since losing the '93 World Series. ... This is the Phillies' 11th postseason appearance in their 126-year history. They've won one World Series title (1980) and lost more games than any franchise in professional sports. ... The 92 wins were the team's most since '93. ... A strong pitching staff carried the Phillies while a star-studded offense was often inconsistent. Lidge was 41-for-41 in save opportunities, making him worthy of MVP consideration. The rest of the bullpen also was solid and the top three in the rotation match up well with most. Hamels was an ace and Myers was dominant in the second half after a brief demotion to the minors in July. But the biggest surprise was the 45-year-old Moyer. His 16 wins tied Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro for most by a pitcher that age. ... Howard led the majors in home runs and RBIs. He had another big September, making him a strong candidate to win the MVP award for the second time in three years. Utley tailed off considerably after an excellent April, hitting just 12 of his career-best 33 homers in the last 103 games. Rollins didn't come close to matching his MVP numbers from a year ago. ... Defensively, the Phillies are strong up the middle, particularly with Rollins and Victorino.

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Watch For

- CC and the No-Name Band. The Brewers almost always win when Sabathia pitches, and they stand a decent chance of losing when he doesn't. Milwaukee must find another reliable starter in the playoffs. Suppan has a strong track record: 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA in nine postseason starts, including two Game 7 gems and the 2006 NLCS MVP for St. Louis. The wild card is Gallardo, a highly regarded young righty who just returned from a serious knee injury.

- Lights Out Lidge. That mammoth homer Lidge allowed to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS is a distant memory. Lidge was perfect in his first season in Philadelphia, helping the Phillies go 79-0 when leading after eight innings. He had a 1.10 ERA in save situations and a 0.61 ERA in his last 15 appearances. While Howard is the fans' choice for MVP, Lidge was chosen the Phillies' most valuable player by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

- Boom or Bust. The Brewers were 74-46 when hitting a home run and 16-26 when they didn't. Sveum has tried to emphasize manufacturing runs, but it's not realistic to expect a team to change its offensive identity in the space of two weeks. So if the Brewers can play long ball in the playoffs, they might stand a chance. If not, they probably don't.

- The Flyin' Hawaiian. The underrated Victorino gets overlooked in a lineup filled with big names. But he's a spark plug who can turn a game around with his bat, glove or speed. The switch-hitting center fielder is excellent defensively and has one of the strongest arms in the majors. He batted second most of the season, but was moved to sixth to provide much-needed balance.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 30, 2008

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