Wednesday, October 07, 2009
When the past two National League champions take the field today at Citizens Bank Park the wild card Colorado Rockies and defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies will officially open baseball's 2009 edition of the post season.
The Phillies won the regular season series between the two clubs but none of that will matter starting this afternoon. Taking the mound for the Phillies, who look to jump out to a good start at home, will be former American League Cy Young award winning pitcher Cliff Lee. Manager Charlie Manuel opted to go with Lee in game one and last year's NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels in game two.
After a brilliant start with the Phillies after a mid-season blockbuster trade Lee showed some signs of weakness down the stretch. In his lone appearance against the Rockies this year Lee pitched seven innings without allowing an earned run. Colorado did score one run on the ace pitcher but an error lead to the run being scored as an unearned tally.
Lee will be making his first start in the post-season so pay attention to how he responds to the pressure in front of a raucous home crowd. The Phillies won each game in front of their home fans last season and it will be interesting to see if Lee can feed off of what will surely be an anxious crowd Wednesday afternoon.
Pitching for the Rockies will be Ubaldo Jiménez. Jiménez has a career record of 0-1 against the Phillies in two career starts and a 8.10 ERA against them. In 18 starts away from Coors Field Jiménez is 7-7 this season with a 3.58 ERA.
Manuel has yet to commit to a single closer so if the Phillies are in a save situation it will be worth watching what Manuel decides on. Ryan Madson had taken on the closer role at the end of the season, but some suggest the move to bring Brad Lidge into the NL East clinching game with two outs was a symbolic gesture that Lidge is still the go-to guy. Manuel may be wise to go with a bullpen by committee mentality though.
First pitch: 2:37 pm
Pitching probables (regular season stats)
Cliff Lee (14-13, 3.22 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (15-12, 3.47 ERA)
NLDS, Best of Five
10.07 Game 1 (Philadelphia) - 2:37 pm
10.08 Game 2 (Philadelphia) - 2:37 pm
10.10 Game 3 (Colorado) - 9:37 pm
10.11 Game 4 (Colorado) - TBA*
10.13 Game 5 (Philadelphia) - TBA*
* If necessary