An hour before first pitch, it's time to make my prediction on the National League Division Series between the Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds.
I expect the Phillies to be in the World Series, so why am I so worried about this match up?
The Phillies' three starters of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels are better than who the Reds are pitching. What concerns me is the Phillies' offense, which has had several stretches of ineptitude during the season. Now would not be a good time for another one, and Placido Polanco is out of the lineup for game one because of a sore back.
When the Phils hosted the Reds in a 4-game series in July, the Phils swept the series. But the first three games the Phils won in the final at bat. In fact in the third game, Reds' pitcher Travis Wood had a PERFECT GAME against the Phillies heading into the 9th inning in a game the Phils won, 1-0. The Phils won the final game, also 1-0, with Hamels on the mound.
The Phils need to jump on the Reds started and get a lead. The Reds bullpen is pretty good, and with lefty reliever Aroldis Chapman and his 100-plus mph fastball coming in to face Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the late innings, it would be nice if the Phils were ahead when he came into the game.
But I expect the Phils' starting pitching and post-season experience to come out ahead in this series. Phillies in 4.