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NLDS breakdown: Rockies

NLDS breakdown: Rockies

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That the Colorado Rockies are in the playoffs is surprising to a number of people, but if you've watched this team much, it shouldn't be all that surprising.

What's surprising about a team with a lineup that includes Matt Holliday, Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe making the playoffs? That's a Most Valuable Player candidate in Holliday (a league-leading .340 batting average to go with 36 homers and 135 RBIs), three guys with at least 110 RBIs, four guys with 24 or more homers, and counting Kazuo Matsui, six guys who scored 80 or more runs.

They have a solid combination of power and hitting for average, and a balanced blend of left-handed hitters like Helton and Hawpe, switch-hitter Matsui and right-handed hitters Holliday and Hawpe.

Colorado also has speed (Matsui and injured center fielder Willy Taveras have more than 30 steals apiece) and play smart, aggressive baseball. The Rockies have the best team fielding percentage in the league.

The Rockies are impressive in so many phases of the game it shouldn't be surprising that they are playoff bound. And don't be surprised if Holliday, Helton, Hawpe, et al, continue their hitting ways against Philadelphia.

The Rockies batted .327 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs and a .396 on-base percentage in seven games against the Phillies this season.

Key late-game matchups
• First baseman Helton vs. Phillies closer Brett Myers. Helton is 4-for-9 with three extra-base hits, five walks and a .643 career on-base percentage against Myers.

• Second baseman Matsui vs. Phillies right-hander Tom "Flash" Gordon. Matsui is 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his career against Gordon.

Rockies Secret weapon


Sullivan
Backup outfielder Cory Sullivan batted .290 this season, but the left-handed-hitting Sullivan wore out Philly right-handers in six games this season. Sullivan batted .429 (9-for-21) with four walks, two extra-base hits and four RBIs.


Rockies Achilles' heel
The rotation, other than Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22) is run of the mill, although Josh Fogg has pitched better of late. They don't pitch deep into games and are vulnerable to the long ball -- not traits you'd prefer against a lineup like Philadelphia's.

Rockies Manager: Clint Hurdle
Highly respected within and outside the organization, Hurdle is an excellent leader and has done a masterful job with this young team.

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Rockies intangibles
The Rockies don't make many mistakes, play great defense and have improved as the season has progressed. This is a talented young team that is coming together ahead of schedule and appears to be ready to continue its surprising run.

Three reasons the Rockies will win
• The Rockies play well against Philadelphia. They won the season series and outscored the Phillies 29-20 in a split of four-game set at Citizens Bank Park three weeks ago.

• The Rockies have the best record in baseball over the last two weeks, the league's best defense and the momentum after upsetting Jake Peavy and San Diego in Monday's tiebreaker game.

• The Fab Five of Holliday, Atkins, Tulowitzki, Helton and Hawpe will keep the Rockies rolling.

Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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