Five Keys to Phillies-Rockies
The Phillies and Rockies just might be the most unlikely postseason rivalry in baseball history. The Phillies were the worst of baseball's 16 pre-expansion franchises before the arrival of
Perennial bridesmaids since 2001, the Phillies finally broke through in 2007, swiping the NL East from the Mets, who had led Philadelphia by seven games on Sept. 12, in one of the game's greatest regular-season comebacks. Unfortunately for the Phils, they ran smack into a Rockies team that had won 14 of 15 games to take the wild card via a 13-inning tiebreaker victory in a game started by the league's best pitcher (2007 pitching triple crown and Cy Young award winner
The favored Phillies had home-field advantage and
Just two years later, these two teams are back at it, again with an afternoon start in Philadelphia. But this time
That puts a lot of pressure on...
The best right-handed hitter in the Rockies' lineup also happens to be the best overall hitter in the Rockies' lineup. An all-around sensation on the 2007 Rockies team that swept the Phillies in the NLDS and claimed the franchise's first pennant,
You may have heard that there's a closer controversy in Philadelphia ... The Phillies collected 10 saves in September. Last year's Mr. Perfect,
In stark contrast to the Phillies' unit, the Rockies' bullpen has been key to their surprising playoff run. Let's revisit those win-loss splits from the Tulowitzki comment above, adding in runs scored and allowed per game:
Tulowitzki's rejuvenation (as well as
The Rockies worked hard to rebuild their bullpen as the season progressed, bringing in
Still, that 4.16 ERA since May 31 isn't a particularly impressive number on its own, and the Rockies' bullpen remains -- well -- rocky behind Street and Betancourt. The Phillies have the better rotation, making it all the more imperative for the Colorado relievers to hold the line for late-game comebacks against the weakened Philly pen. A failure to do so could lead to a quick exit for the upstart Rockies.
Don't blame Phillies fans if this matchup makes them nervous. Two years ago the Phillies finally broke through to win the NL East, only to face a Rockies team that had surprised everyone by surging to the wild card. The Rockies arrived in Philadelphia to kick off the NLDS against Cole Hamels in an afternoon game on the first Wednesday in October, and three days later had swept the Phillies out of the playoffs. The big story of that series was the poor performance by the Phillies' big bats.