Both of these teams had impressive sweeps over the Phillies and Cubs in the first round of the playoffs. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are both really young baseball teams that prove you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a really good baseball team. The matchups in this series look really good and here’s a breakdown:
CATCHER: Chris Snyder had his best season in the majors this year. Still, he’s not a high average hitter but he has power. He also is a solid defensive catcher that does a good job of handling the pitching staff. He was only 1 for 7 (.143 avg, .393 OPS) with 2 runs scored in the first round against the Cubs. Yorvit Torrealba is a good defensive catcher and he really was the silent assassin at the bottom of the Rockies batting order against the Phillies. He was 5 for 10 (.500 avg, 1.183 OPS) with 3 runs scored and 3 RBIs. EDGE: EVEN
FIRST BASE: Young Conor Jackson regressed after a breakout season in 2006 for the Diamondbacks. Jackson was only 1 for 8 (.125 avg, .361 OPS) with 1 RBI in the first round. Todd Helton has one of the sweetest swings in all of baseball but he looked a little nervous against the Phillies. He was only 1 for 12 (.083 avg, .404 OPS) with 1 run scored in the first round of the playoffs. EDGE: ROCKIES
SECOND BASE: Augie Ojeda really stepped up in the first round of the playoffs but one has to wonder if it was a fluke as he’s never played that well in his whole career. He was 4 for 9 (.444 avg, 1.101 OPS) with 1 run scored and 1 RBI. Kazuo Matsui was the MVP for the Rockies on offense against the Phillies and they hope he keeps swinging a hit stick. He has 5 for 12 (.417 avg, 1.583 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 2 triples, 1 homer and 6 RBIs. EDGE: ROCKIES
SHORTSTOP: Stephen Drew was awesome against the Cubs. He was 7 for 14 (.500 avg, 1.643 OPS) with 4 runs scored, 2 homers, 4 RBIs and a stolen base. Troy Tulowitzki was one of the best rookies in all of baseball this season but he had a tough series against the Phillies as he went 2 for 12 (.167 avg, .731 OPS) with 1 run, 1 homer and 2 RBIs. EDGE: EVEN
THIRD BASE: Mark Reynolds burst onto the scene for the D-Backs after Chad Tracy went down to injury and he has a big power bat. He was 2 for 10 (.200 avg, .833 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 1 homer and 1 RBI against the Cubs. Garrett Atkins had his second really outstanding season in a row for the Rockies. He was 3 for 13 (.231 avg, .616 OPS) with 3 runs scored and 1 RBI against the Phillies. EDGE: ROCKIES
LEFT FIELD: Eric Byrnes makes it all go for the Diamondbacks with his all-out hustle both when batting and in the field and it rubs off on his teammates. Byrnes was 3 for 12 (.250 avg, .975 OPS) with 1 run scored, 1 homer, 3 RBIs and a stolen base against the Cubs. If Matt Holliday didn’t play half of his games at Coors Field he would get the respect he deserves as he should be the MVP this season in the National League. He was 3 for 13 (.231 avg, .923 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 2 homers and 3 RBIs against the Phillies in round #1. EDGE: ROCKIES
CENTER FIELD: Chris Young was a force against the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs as he showed off his skills as a hitter. He was 3 for 11 (.273, 1.247 OPS) with 3 runs scored, 2 homers, 4 RBIs and a stolen base. Ryan Spilboroghs will likely start in CF again in this series. He was 2 for 8 (.250 avg, .705 OPS) with 2 runs scored against the Phillies. EDGE: DIAMONDBACKS
RIGHT FIELD: Justin Upton is only 19 years old but you would never guess that after how bad he tortured the Cubs with his bat. He was 3 for 5 (.600 avg, 1.350 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 1 RBI and 1 stolen base. Brad Hawpe was a true breakout player for the Rockies this season and he will likely have success against the D-Backs. He was 3 for 11 (.273 avg, .658 OPS) with 1 run scored against the Phillies. EDGE: ROCKIES
STARTING PITCHING: The Diamondbacks probably like their starting rotation a little bit better than Rockies do right now. Brandon Webb will start Game #1 for the D-Backs and he was great in the first round as he was the winning pitcher in his game. He won by pitching 7 innings and allowing only 4 hits, 1 earned run, walking 3 batters and whiffing 9. Lefty Doug Davis will start the second game and he won despite not pitching too well against the Cubs. He threw 5.2 innings and he allowed 5 hits, 4 earned runs, walked 4 batters and whiffed 8. Veteran Livan Hernandez will pitch game #3 for the D-Backs and he was solid in his first start of the post-season. He worked 6 innings and he allowed 5 hits, 1 earned run, walked 5 batters and whiffed 2. Micah Owings will be the #4 starter and he had a solid rookie season. He is also an outstanding hitter who will provide pop at the bottom of the lineup.
Jeff Francis will be the #1 starter again for the Rockies in the series with the D-Backs. He was solid in his first post season start against the Phillies who had owned him in the past. He was the winning pitcher as he worked 6 innings and allowed 4 hits, 2 earned runs, walked 2 batters and whiffed 8. Rookie Ubaldo Jimenez will get the call in game #2 and he was outstanding the first round. He didn’t get a decision but he worked 6.1 innings and he allowed 3 hits, 1 earned run, walked 4 batters and whiffed 5. Veteran Josh Fogg will start Game #3 against the D-Backs. He was the winning pitcher in Game #2 against the Phillies with some solid relief work behind Franklin Morales. He pitched 2 innings and he only allowed 1 hit while whiffing 1. The Rockies are hoping that rookie lefty Franklin Morales gives them a better effort against the D-Backs. He only lasted 3 innings in his start against the Phillies in round #1, allowing 3 hits, 3 earned runs, walking 2 batters and whiffing 3. EDGE: DIAMONDBACKS
BULLPEN: Both teams have solid and deep bullpens. Closer Jose Valverde was unhittable in the first round of the playoffs against the Cubs. He pitched in all 3 games (saving 1) and he worked 3 innings allowing only 1 hit, 0 earned runs, walked 1 batter and whiffed 6. Brandon Lyon was excellent in his set-up role as he also worked in all 3 games. He pitched 3 innings and he allowed 1 hit, 0 earned runs, walked 1 batter and whiffed 1 batter. Flamethrowing righty Tony Pena has also as good as gold in round #1 as he threw 2 scoreless innings in which he allowed 2 hits. Righty Juan Cruz (1/3 scoreless vs. Cubs) and lefty Doug Slaten could both have key roles for the D-Backs if the starting pitchers have any problems.
Rockies closer Manny Corpas saved all 3 games in the first round of the playoffs against the Phillies. He pitched 3.1 innings and he only allowed 2 hits, 0 earned runs and he whiffed 3 batters. Lefty Brian Fuentes worked the 8th inning in all three games against the Phillies and he pitched good in two of them. He worked 2.1 innings and he allowed 1 hit, 0 earned runs, walked 3 batters and whiffed 4. Righties Ryan Speier (1.1 innings), LaTroy Hawkins (1 IP) and Matt Herges (2/3 IP) all pitched well as none of them gave up a run. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt pitched 1 inning in the first round and he allowed 1 hit (a homer), 1 earned run and he whiffed 2. EDGE: EVEN
BENCH: Tony Clark is the best player on either teams bench as he gives the D-Backs big-time power from both sides of the plate. But he was 0 for 6 in the first round of the playoffs. Outfielder Jeff Salazar could share time with Upton in RF for the D-Backs. He was 0 for 3 in the first round. Miguel Montero will likely get a start or two at catcher in this series as he shares the postion with Chris Snyder. He was 0 for 2 with 1 run scored in the first round. Veteran Jeff Cirillo will offer the D-Backs experience and know how off of the bench…but he was only 0 for 1 in the first round.
Willy Taveras will likely be back for this series and he’s an outstanding defender in center field and he’s a pesky leadoff hitter with speed. Cory Sullivan played in all three games in the first round of the playoffs and he was 1 for 2. Seth Smith (1 for 2, run scored) and Jeff Baker (1 for 1, RBI) each had huge pinch hits against the Phillies. Jamey Carroll (1 game, 0 at bats) and catcher Chris Iannetta will likely be nailed to the bench against the D-Backs. EDGE: DIAMONDBACKS
PREDICTION: The Diamondbacks will win this series in 7 games because they have a better pitching staff. But the Rockies will scare them big-time. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rockies win this series with the way that they have been playing lately.