December 14, 2010

With Lee, can Phillies challenge Pirates?

Late Monday night, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Cliff Lee. This established Pittsburgh's cross-state rival as the primary challenger to the favored Pirates for the 2011 National League pennant - and, with the Yankees now in decline, presumably the World Series.

Get your toll money ready, boys, because with the Pirates adding Scott Olsen and Kevin Correia this same week, the two Pennsylvania teams now will certainly meet in the National League Championship Series in October. Pittsburgh's rotation has more depth with the Phillies' fifth starter situation up in the air, but especially in a short series, Philadelphia is at least in the discussion for best rotation in the league.

Expected NLCS matchups are as follows (2010 stats in parentheses):

Game 1 in Pittsburgh
Ross Ohlendorf (1-11, 4.07) vs. Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44)

Game 2 in Pittsburgh
Paul Maholm (9-15, 5.10) vs. Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18)

Game 3 in Philadelphia
James McDonald (4-6, 4.02) vs. Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06)

Game 4 in Philadelphia
Kevin Correia (10-10, 5.40) vs. Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76)

Game 5 in Philadelphia
Ohlendorf vs. Halladay

Games 6 & 7 in Pittsburgh
Not Necessary, Pirates win in five

Obviously the Pirates have the advantage with their youthful fire, unstoppable force, alternate caps, and celebrity bartenders. But it will be true old time baseball, hearkening back to the 1909 WFC season. Bunts, stealing bases, 2-1 and 1-0 games, leaving your glove in the field between innings, all that. The Lee signing really gives the Pirates a worthy adversary. Only ten months away.

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