With the playoffs approaching, every club heading for October baseball is neck deep in scouting reports on potential opponents. Here are Scout.com, we want you to be just as prepared for postseason baseball. We’ll be breaking down each playoff bound team as part of our postseason preview, as well as well as scouting reports on key players. Here’s a look at the Philadelphia Phillies.
The weaknesses are few and far between when you’re trying to pick apart the Philadelphia Phillies. Their lineup and their pitching staff are tremendously talented, and it’s that pitching staff that will make them a favorite against any club they face in October. Any club that intends to slow down Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt will certainly have their work cut out for them. Quite frankly, there may not be that much pressure on their offense if these pitchers perform.
Again, Philadelphia is lacking in real weaknesses. But, if you had to point to something, they may have a vulnerability to left-handed pitching. The acquisition of Hunter Pence lessened that weakness tremendously but it’s still something to keep a close eye on. Luckily for the Phils, however, most of the elite pitching in the playoffs they could run into are right-handed.
Matchup To Watch
How could anyone not be interested in watching the Phillies’ pitching staff square off against Albert Pujols? More specifically, the matchup to watch will be Roy Halladay against Pujols. The St. Louis slugger is a career .182 against the Phils’ ace. And, it’s actually not that surprising that he’d have that level of success against Pujols.
Halladay pitches so effectively with a scissor effect, running the fastball in then cutting the ball away from right-handed power hitters. And, this is one of the only real ways pitchers are going to have any success in getting Pujols out with any degree of consistency.
As good as the Phillies’ starting staff is, it’s Halladay that will have to set the tone in game one. We so rarely see him struggle so it’s difficult to expect anything less than at least a solid seven inning outing. The Cardinals do have guys who are excellent breaking ball hitters, so I’d look for Halladay to stay aggressive with his fastball, especially early on in the game.
While 2011 hasn’t exactly been the dream season for Utley, he’s still a guy who is extremely dangerous in postseason action. Look for pitchers to attack Utley with a heavy dose of changeups, something that they’ve done a lot in 2011. They’ll stay on the outer third of the plate and force Utley to hit to center and left field. But, as much as he’s struggled, he still has the type of short swing to get hot and stay hot for an entire postseason.
Pence is a huge key to this Phillies’ lineup. They need that right-handed presence to balance out the lefties in their lineup and so far Pence has filled that need brilliantly. He’s also the type of hitter that could play a significant role against top notch pitching in October. He can hit pitches out of the zone and has very little issue cutting down on his swing and hitting a good breaking ball. And, given his place in the Phillies’ lineup he figures to see some good pitches to hit in big situations.
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