Recently, I wrote this:
- Let's assume that the Phillies do beat the Rockies. With the 2008 version of Brad Lidge protecting small leads, I would rate the Phillies as slight underdogs against the Dodgers. With the 2009 version, though? I'll take the Dodgers in five.
In response (mostly in the comments), MGL accused me of hyperbole.
To which I respond, "Guilty as charged, Your Honor."
But let me run through my thought process here ...
I don't believe the Phillies are as good as the Dodgers. During the regular season, the Dodgers outscored their opponents by 169 runs; the Phillies outscored theirs by 111. Granted, the Phillies got a lot better during the season when they added Cliff Lee, but the Dodgers got better when they got Vicente Padilla and George Sherrill, and when Manny Ramirez returned to the lineup. No question, Lee's a great pitcher, but he doesn't wipe out the Dodgers' obvious edge all by himself.
So, when I described the Phillies as slight underdogs (with Brad Lidge the Great), I meant that I would have picked the Dodgers in six games, mostly because there aren't many seven-game series. Does Brad Lidge really push the number to five, all by himself? Of course not. No player could. Maybe he pushes them down from six to 5.63 or something. But that's hardly worth mentioning, so I rounded down for dramatic effect. Call it poetic license, if you prefer.
Anyway, I bring all this up by way of introducing another prediction: My friends at Diamond Mind Baseball have played the NLCS 1,000 times, and the results are even more lopsided than I guessed: Dodgers 765, Phillies 235. Oh, and the most common result? Dodgers in five.
Why? Well, this is mostly speculation, but in addition to the Dodgers simply being somewhat better than the Phillies, the Phillies' three left-handed starters just don't seem to match up well with the Dodgers' righty-laden lineup. Granted, roughly the same might have been said (and probably was) just one year ago. That's why they actually play the games for real.