Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things to Watch

As the playoffs kick off today, here are some of the key things to watch.

1. Jimmy Rollins' defense. Rollins was a gold-glove shortstop most of the season, but when the Phillies became dull and lifeless in September, he started making errors. Even more than his bat, his play in the field is a reflection of the team's attitude.

2. Lee's start. Cliff Lee was phenomenal in his first five starts, then not so much in the rest. When there were problems, the first inning was particularly problematic.

3. Utley's start. Chase hit a home run in his first at bat of the World Series last year. The Phillies' offense was fine. He's in a slump as the playoffs begin. If he pulls out of it, the offense will follow.

4. The bullpen. Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, and Pedro Martinez are all in the bullpen today. Charlie Manuel hasn't committed to any of them being the Game 3 starter. Will any (or all) of these three be used to shore up a shaky 'pen? If called on in Game 1, we're likely to see that repeated as long as the Phillies stick around.

5. The closer. Even more than innings 5-8, the 9th inning's importance is magnified in the playoffs. I'm assuming Ryan Madson gets the call in a 1-run save situation today, but Charlie's kept mum on his plans. Maybe Happ? Maybe Lidge?

Oh, and Go Phils!

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