NLCS breakdown: D-backs
Melvin's club looks to capitalize on home-field advantage
Maybe now the Arizona Diamondbacks can truly enjoy a home-field advantage.Expect the crowds at Chase Field to be a little more pro-Arizona for the National League Championship Series -- unlike the audiences for the Division Series, which included thousands of transplanted, displaced or migratory Chicago Cubs fans. Not that it mattered, since the D-backs won both home games on their way to sweeping Chicago. Still, playing before partisan gatherings should only help the D-backs as they begin the NLCS at home, where they posted a 50-31 regular-season record. Capitalizing on friendly environs will be critical for Arizona, given Colorado's own home excellence. The Rockies were 51-31 at Coors Field, where they hit .298 and scored 478 runs, both league-leading figures. The D-backs ranked last in the NL with a .241 road average and 326 runs. Trying to determine who owns the advantage in the NLCS based on regular-season matchups won't bear much fruit. Colorado won the season series 10-8, while outscoring Arizona, 86-72. But the D-backs had an easier time generating runs, outhomering Colorado, 14-9. Twelve of the games were decided by two runs or less, with each team winning six. Key late-game matchup
D-backs closer Jose Valverde must step up his game against the Rockies' top hitters. Todd Helton is 6-for-9 off Valverde; Matt Holliday has gone 2-for-4. Also, D-backs hitters are just 3-for-36 lifetime against Rockies closer Manny Corpas. D-backs Secret Weapon
Shorten the game just a little. Tony Pena and Brandon Lyon have been excellent setup men, but the "bridge" to the ninth inning can be weakened if the D-backs have to accelerate their bullpen timetable by calling on them earlier than usual. D-backs manager: Bob Melvin
If Melvin isn't everybody's NL Manager of the Year choice, he's high on the list. Always cool, he can be counted on to make tough decisions under pressure.
The D-backs have defied statistics and the experts all year by thriving despite being outscored overall. Why should anything change now?
Home-field advantage. It's only a one-game edge, but it could make the difference. The southpaw factor. Arizona was 28-17 against left-handed starters in the regular season, which could negate the effectiveness of Colorado ace Jeff Francis. The Rockies were 20-24 against lefties, so expect Doug Davis of the D-backs to get his chances to start. The tight squeeze fits. Arizona was 32-20 in one-run games in the regular season, compared to Colorado's 18-19. This will help the D-backs throughout the postseason, when games are close more often than not.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.