NLDS breakdown: Brewers vs. Phillies

NLDS breakdown: Brewers vs. Phillies

Brewers at bat:
The Brewers throw a power-packed offense at you -- what with Ryan Braun (37 homers), Prince Fielder (34 homers), Mike Cameron (25 homers), J.J. Hardy (24 homers) and Corey Hart (20 homers) in their lineup. They ranked third in the National League behind the Phillies and Marlins with 198 homers and seventh in runs scored with 750.

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Phillies at bat:
It's not only Ryan Howard with his Major League-leading 48 homers and 146 RBIs, but there's also power and speed up and down the lineup. Try Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Geoff Jenkins and Pat Burrell. The Phils are tops in the NL with 214 homers and tied for second with 799 runs scored. Of course, their bandbox home of Citizens Bank Park helps skew those numbers, but these guys can hit anywhere.

Key late-game matchups:
As far as the Phillies go, it's closer Brad Lidge against anybody. Lidge has given the Phillies something they haven't had since the days of Tug McGraw and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams: a closer who can come on in the ninth inning and shut the door as his 41 saves in 41 opportunities attest. The entire bullpen tied with Houston for the NL lead with 47 saves.

As far as the Brewers go, the bullpen is depleted, although their 45 saves placed second in the NL behind the Astros and Phillies. The question is, with Salomon Torres spent, can Eric Gagne return to his former Cy Young Award-winning form? He has 10 saves and made one scoreless appearance against the Phils this season.


Secret Weapon:
If So Taguchi is on the Phillies' postseason roster, he could be a hidden spark plug. He's been to the postseason three times with the Cardinals (2004-06), and he had a big 2006 with a double, two homers and four RBIs.

Achilles' heel:
It's got to be the Brewers' starting pitching. With Ben Sheets unlikely to be available because of his sore right elbow, that places a big burden on CC Sabathia, Dave Bush and Suppan. Sabathia may have to work on three days' rest for as long as Milwaukee stays alive in the postseason.

The Phillies will win if ... they crush the Brewers on Wednesday and Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, where they've hit 109 homers, scored 412 runs and batted .262 as a team.

The Brewers will win if ... they can get by in Game 1, and then potentially have Sabathia available to come back in Games 2 and 5 to either nail down or save the series.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.