The Phillies and Dodgers open the NLCS at Dodger Stadium tonight. Cole Hamels, who was the MVP against the Dodgers in last year's NLCS, takes the mound against 21 year-old Clayton Kershaw, who is quickly developing into the ace that he was pegged as. After a rough 2009 season, Hamels pitched once against Colorado in the NLDS, when he allowed 4 ER in 5 innings in Game 2. Kershaw went 6 2/3 innings in his only start against St. Louis in the NLDS, allowing just 2 runs. He struggled against the Phillies in the regular season though, losing both starts and posting a 5.23 ERA.
Former Dodger Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 tomorrow night, while former Phillie Vicente Padilla will start for LA. Both joined their respective teams late in the season due to unsettled rotations, and they both pitched well for their new teams. When the series comes to Philly for Games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary), the Dodgers will throw Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3 on Sunday, and former Phillie Randy Wolf (who had his own fan section, the Wolf Pack, in his Phillie days) will start Game 4 on Monday. As in the NLDS, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has yet to name any starters beyond Game 2, although I'd say that it's a safe bet that Cliff Lee will start Game 3. Game 4 would be J.A. Happ or Joe Blanton, depending on whether Charlie decides to use them in relief in the first two games like he did against Colorado, which could've been disastrous but for the snow day. (And yes, I got a sickening feeling when I saw Lee come out to pinch-run). The Brad Lidge of 2008 made a comeback in the clincher against the Rockies, and hopefully he'll stick around for at least the next few weeks.
Offensively, the Phillies lead MLB in almost every hitting category in the postseason, and Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez tore apart Colorado pitching in the NLDS, combining for a .364 BA, 4 home runs, and 17 RBIs in 4 games. The Dodgers weren't hurting for offense against the Cardinals, though--Manny Ramirez (.308/0/2), Andre Ethier (.500/2/3), and Rafael Furcal (.500/0/2) all beat up on the Cardinals.
The Dodgers have home-field in this series, unlike last year, but the Phillies tied the Angels for the best road record in MLB this season, so that shouldn't be a huge factor. Admittedly, I'm biased, but I'm going with the Phillies in 5...maybe 6, but no more.