This series is arematch of the 2007 Division Series won by the Rockies in a surprising sweepthat would be followed by another sweep, of the Diamondbacks, that resulted inthe franchise's first trip to the World Series. It is also about as close to atrue rematch as you'll find in today's game, with five starting positionplayers and several other contributors on each team still wearing the sameuniforms they did two years ago. The Phillies are once again one of the bestoffensive teams in baseball, having led the NL in runs, home runs and sluggingpercentage. Colorado is back in the playoffs for much the same reason it madethe '07 postseason: a strong defense.
Because thePhillies don't get a lot of hits—they batted .286 on balls in play, thethird-lowest figure in the NL—and the Rockies so effectively convert balls inplay into outs, Philadelphia may struggle to score when it doesn't hit homeruns. In fact, this is one reason why the Phillies lost in '07: They hit fivehomers in three games, but all were solo shots, and they scored just threeother runs in the series, batting an atrocious .177 on balls in play. They haveto improve upon that number or hit a lot of well-timed home runs to avoid asimilar fate.
Going deep againstColorado isn't the given it once was—far from it. Despite playing half theirgames in Coors Field, the Rockies allowed just 141 homers this season, a teamrecord for a full year and the fifth-lowest mark in the league. This isn't justabout the humidor; Colorado pitchers induce more ground balls than any staffother than the Cardinals', while giving up home runs at a league-average rate(about 10%) on the fly balls they do allow. They also have a lower walk ratethan all but four NL teams. It's a simple plan: Keep the ball down, don't giveout free passes, let the defense do the rest. The Rockies and the Cardinalshave a nearly identical approach to run prevention, but Colorado backs it witha better defense.
The other factorworking against the Phillies is their bullpen, a mess because of Brad Lidge'scollapse and injuries that leave them wondering who'll be available. J.C.Romero and Chan Ho Park are out, while Scott Eyre and Brett Myers missed mostof September. A key part of the 2008 championship team is a critical weaknessin '09, and likely the deciding factor. Rockies in four.