Phillies Begin The March

Manager Charlie Manuel will give the ball to his ace of aces in game one of the NLCS on Wednesday. Roy Halladay, the favorite for the Cy Young, leads the most experienced and talented pitching staff into the playoffs where the Phils have won the title the last two seasons.

The already dangerous lineup will get a boost from the return of speedster Jimmy Rollins, no stranger to the big stage, to the lineup. A host of seasoned batsman eagerly await the arrival of the Central Division Champion Cincinnati Reds.

Reds manager Dusty Baker, a strong candidate for Manager of the Year, will send his young fireballer Edinson Volquez (4 -3, 4.31) to the hill to calm the home crowd storm. Volquez has recovered from Tommy John surgery but has had difficulty with his mechanics and control. Baker sent the youngster to Class A Dayton for mid-season rehab but the patient Philly batsmen will make Volquez throw strikes.

Since returning, Volquez has gone 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA. A right-hander, Volquez will rely heavily on a sharp slider and heavy fastball. Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco have had success against Volquez in the past. The right-hander has controlled Ryan Howard and the base stealing Rollins.

In Halladay’s 21 wins were nine complete games, 250 2/3 innings, four shutouts and a no-hitter. He has been everything the Phillies expected since joining the team. Halladay averages 7.3 strikeouts for every walk and Miguel Cairo, Brandon Phillips and Jim Edmonds have had success against Halladay.

The fate of this game and future games could well be in the hands of Reds closer Francisco Cordero. Manager Baker’s closer blew eight saves this season and cannot afford unfocused appearances against the Phillies.

In game one, we like Philadelphia to show the Reds how championship teams play. With then most wins in the majors, Philadelphia could well go all the way as they did in 2008.