Game 1: October 1, 3pm EST - Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 0-0, 1.88) @ Phillies (Cole Hamels, 14-10, 3.09)
Game 2: October 2, 6pm EST - Brewers (CC Sabathia, 11-2, 1.65, 17-10, 2.70 overall) @ Phillies (Brett Myers, 10-13, 4.55)
Game 3: October 4, 6:30pm EST - Phillies (Jamie Moyer, 16-7, 3.71) @ Brewers (TBA)
Game 4 (If Necessary): October 5, Time TBA - Phillies (TBA) @ Milwaukee (TBA)
Game 5 (If Necessary): October 7, Time TBA - Brewers (TBA) @ Phillies (TBA)
Normally for the Brewers, Ben Sheets would pitch Game 3. However, he will likely remain off the roster for this series, due to injury. This is a huge blow to the Brewers, since Sheets is their 2nd best starting pitcher, behind Sabathia. The Phillies, on the other hand, made the playoffs with a few games to spare, and were able to set their pitching rotation a little more favorably.
Another primary concern for the Brewers is that the last time these teams played, the Phillies swept a 4-game series in Philadelphia on September 11-14. That series was the beginning of the Phillies playoff push down the stretch, in which they passed the Brewers in the wild card race, and the Mets in the NL East.
The Brewers (3.85) and the Phillies (3.88) have nearly identical team ERA's. However, since the all star break, which coincides with CC Sabathia's arrival, the Brewers' ERA has been only 3.52, which was best in the NL. Sabathia has made a huge impact on the team. The question with Sabathia will be his durability. He has pitched a career high 253 innings this year, and his Game 2 start will be his 4th straight start on only 3 days' rest. Last year, he had some troubles in the postseason, after pitching substantial innings in the regular season on his way to the 2007 AL Cy Young. Many thought that he looked tired, and wasn't completely 100%. While it's no guarantee that the same thing will happen this year, it's definitely clear that the Brewers need him to pitch well for them to succeed. They are 14-3 in games that he has started, and 76-69 in the rest of their games.
For the Phillies, their strength will need to be their offense. Cole Hamels is a Cy Young candidate this year, Brad Lidge has been perfect in the closer's role, and Jamie Moyer has pitched as well as anyone could expect from someone approaching their 46th birthday. But it is their offense that sets them apart from the Brewers.
Chase Utley is one of the best offensive second basemen that we've seen in decades. Ryan Howard led all of baseball with 48 HR's, 8 ahead of 2nd-best Adam Dunn. He also holds the MLB lead in RBI's by 16. The Phillies were tied for 2nd in the NL in runs scored, trailing only the Cubs. They average nearly 5 runs per game, and scored 49 runs more than the Brewers in the regular season. While it's true that pitching usually wins in the playoffs, neither team has a clear edge in that category, so it might be the Phillies' offense that makes the difference.
Without Sheets, the Brewers will have to once again depend heavily on Sabathia. Since he has been worked so hard recently, he will only be able to make one appearance, unless the series is stretched to 5 games. With Hamels on the mound for the Phillies in Game 1, and then games 3 and 4 likely to see Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan for the Brewers, it's hard to see the Brewers winning more than one game, with the way each team has played recently.
Prediction: Phillies in 4