Good news on the Kuo front as it looks like we will have our lefty killer and all around general relief stud available for the NLCS. How effective he will be is another question.
Injuries may have been a part of the 2008 season but the postseason has been a different story. With Furcal, Saito, and Kuo at just about full strength, headed into this series the Dodgers now boast the best lineup they have had in years. I'll let Andrew use the numbers to explain the matchups but for me it is going to come down to who has the guns to get from starting pitching to the ninth.
Here is what the Phillies will be using to accomplish that task:
Romero found a home after failing with his last few teams. He is basically our Loogy Beimel, a lucky pitcher who is running a nice streak right now. Madson and Eyre are about the only two quality arms in the bullpen who aren't masquerading as something more then they are. The Dodgers would be blessed if Durbin and Condrey have to pitch any meaningful innings. At some point the Phillies will bring in Romero to get Ethier out and when that happens don't be surprised if Romero walks him.
On the Dodger side with Kuo back they can throw at the Phillies the same bullpen that wrecked havoc upon the NL before Saito went down. If the Dodgers can get a lead headed into the 6th you would expect that Beimel, Wade, Kuo, Saito, and Broxton will bring that lead home. I'm not sure what to expect from Kershaw in the bullpen. With it being announced that Lowe would pitch on 3 days rest we will be going with a 3 man rotation. Kershaw has the same ability as Kuo to shut down an offense for a few innings. If the Dodgers win this series I expect it will be because of the lock down bullpen they can throw at the Phillies. With three of them lefthanded it might mitigate the damage that Utely and Howard can do. Most of the Phillies rivals in the central have had weak bullpens that they could feast on. That won't be the case here.
Game One - Hamels/Lowe: We can expect Hamels to pitch a strong game one as he had the highest game score of any pitcher in the 1st round. I expect the Phillies to win game one something along the lines of 5 - 2.
Game Two - Myers/Billingsley: Myers was banished to the minors and when he got himself turned around he was every bit as good as Billingsley during the last six weeks. Then something happened and Myers was torched during his last two starts and if not for a will timed double play ground ball by Cory Hart he might not have made it out of the 1st inning of his postseason start. Once he got settled down he handled the Brewers and picked up the victory. Instead of worrying about which Myers will show, I'll focus on Billingsley. He wil pitch a gem and even the series.
So headed to LA I expect the series to be tied at one game a piece. This ain't going to be easy, the Phillies have a loaded offense but I feel the pitching is suspect. So while I expect the Phillies to be able to score on us, I also feel our offense will do the same. Hamels is a stud, Myers can be good, but Moyer and Blanton are going to get hit and then the middle relief is going to get hit.
Dodgers in Six