Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dbacks vs. Rocks

In my last post, I declared that there were a lot of bad baseball teams in this year's playoffs, and that the cream would rise to the top quicker than most pundits expected, and I was right. It was especially gratifying in the National League to watch the Chicago Clowns and the Philadelphia Sillies get blown out to the previously unrecognized superior teams. Just another example of the ignorance that is ESPN and the main stream media. Screw major market viewership! Just give me good baseball and I’ll watch it.
If you want a feel good story on either of these teams, about how they are misunderstood diamonds in the rough and how they are riding their youthful exuberance one day at a time into a fairy tale kingdom, go to I'm here to break down what actually matters come playoff time and that is strong starting pitching and a rested bullpen.

The Diamondback starters are Brandon Webb (R) (3.01), Doug Davis (L) (4.25), Livan Hernandez (R) and 4.93 Micah Owings (R) (4.30).
The Rockies starters are Jeff Francis (4.22), Ubaldo Jimenez (4.28), Franklin Morales (3.43) and Aaron Cook (4.12).
Each ace has to win for his be successful and one of the remaining starters has to be consistent for their respective team to win this series. That being said, I feel that the Dbacks have the edge and will demonstrate it over the 7 game series. It won’t be easy and each team will go balls to the wall, but the talented and experienced DBack staff will get it done.

Webb will show you what I’m talking about in Game 1 at home. He has a silly sinker, a good fastball to keep you honest, a curveball to make you look like a fool and a changeup just to mess with you while you are grasping at anything. Most importantly, Webb got stronger as the season went on, posting a ridiculous (10-4) record after the all-star break a 2.56 ERA and most importantly raising his K/BB ration from 2.35 to 2.93.
The Rocks will make it tough because they have success against Webb: Matsui (.423) Hawpe (.342) Helton (.300 against) and Holliday (.244), but his ability to put together quality starts and make quality pitches will put a lot of pressure on them and which, throughout an entire game, can wear down a team.

Webb goes against a pitching staff that I haven't seen a lot of. Rockies pitchers over the years have been a joke, amassing astronomical ERAs and struggling to win ballgames. And while I got to see a bit of them in Spring Training this past year, I wasn't paying close attention.
I wouldn't really call game one starter Jeff Francis a Dback killer but he does sport a pretty legit 7-2, 3.54 record against. What I look at that will hurt him in a playoff situation, his is propensity for giving up hits and walks (WHIP) 1.38 vs. Webb's 1.19, and leave the ball up in the zone. Struggling control destroys playoff teams. Not only do more pitches and higher pitch counts limit what you can do batter to batter, but it puts extra strain on your ability to work deep into ballgames and, as a consequence, thins your bullpen. In these early games, the team that is forced into their bullpen first will struggle later on in the series when they invariably have to lean on relief pitching in must-win situations.
I'm not saying Francis isn't good and his success shows, but in the big playoff picture, where each pitch has an affect on the rest of the series, it's imperative that these guys work efficiently, work deep into ballgames, reduce their walks and keep their bullpens fresh so that when Livan Hernandez and Franklin Morales give up some early runs in Game 3 your bullpen hasn’t already checked out.

Other guys to watch: Chris Young, Eric Byrnes, Stephen Drew, Kaz Matsui, Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki.

Dbacks vs. Rocks Game 1: Oct. 11, 8:30, TBS
Dbacks 5, Rocks 4

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