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Miles sizes up the National League division series
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/5/2010 4:08 PM

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Here's how Bruce Miles breaks down the NL playoffs:

Phillies vs. Reds

How the Reds can win: They have to swim upstream in some heavy H2O. That means facing pitchers Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Reds led NL in runs, homers and slugging percentage, and were second in on-base percentage. They also were shut out 13 times, and Philadelphia's rotation features the best Big Three in the NL. The Reds' Joey Votto is a leading MVP candidate with 37 homers and OPS of 1.024. Offense can't afford a letdown.

How the Phillies can win: The offense can be inconsistent. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth provide power, and Chase Utley can get an offense going. Late-inning relievers Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge have been lights-out down the stretch. If Phillies get decent performances from their starting pitchers, they'll be tough to beat.

Intangibles: It'll be fun to watch former Cubs and Giants skipper Dusty Baker manage in the playoffs. The Phillies have loads of postseason experience, and the Reds haven't been there since 1995. Will the Reds' youth help them or hurt them? Baker is going with pitcher Edinson Volquez in Game 1. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has quietly emerged as one of the game's best.

The quote: "We're better all around," said Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, referring to past division winners in Philadelphia. "Less question marks. Not that question marks ever bothered us."

Miles' prediction: Phillies in four

Giants vs. Braves

How the Giants can win: Rookie of the Year front-runner Buster Posey must break out of a 6-for-42 funk, and pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez must step up in their first postseason action. The Giants led the major leagues in ERA, and if that holds it could be a short series. Journeyman Aubrey Huff leads Giants in all the key offensive stats. Andres Torres, a former Cubs spring invitee, must ignite from the top.

How the Braves can win: They'll have to pitch, especially with Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson, who will get some Cy Young votes. Like the Giants, the Braves don't light things up offensively. Former Cub Derrek Lee didn't do a lot after being traded in August, but he had a solid final month. With Chipper Jones out, Martin Prado chipped in by moving from second to third base in a breakout season. They'll need him now. Jason Heyward will battle Posey for Rookie of the Year honors, and Heyward could be a key.

Intangibles: Bobby Cox is managing in yet another postseason, his last, for the Braves. He'll be up against a top-notch manager in Bruce Bochy. Lee has played in October with the Marlins and Cubs. Both of these teams had to give it all they had down the stretch to get here. San Francisco should be revved up for postseason baseball, and the Giants' home park could be an advantage.

The quote: "There's so many guys going through this for the first time, young guys, and I want them to take a good look," Braves GM Frank Wren said as they celebrated their wild-card berth. "Because we want to keep doing this year after year."

Miles' prediction: Giants in five