November 24, 2014

2009 NLCS Preview: Phillies vs. Dodgers

philsnlcs

Larry Bowa, Jim Thome, Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla in the NLCS. That’s what Phillies fans were thinking about and hoping for in 2003. Well, it finally happened, but as we know, it happened with the Dodgers, who now face the Phillies in a re-match of last year’s NLCS.

Make no mistake about it, this a better, more experienced Dodger team than we faced last year, and this will not be a 5-game Phillies’ victory. The Phils will have to play well in every facet of the game to win, and that might not even be enough.

As I said before the NLDS: Until the Phillies lose, I will not be changing the format of my previews. So, in the same format as last year’s preview, here’s my 2009 NLCS rundown.

The Aces

Cliff Lee / Cole Hamels

vs. Randy Wolf / Clayton Kershaw

Like in the Rockies series, the “name” pitchers are on the Phillies’ side, but that doesn’t mean they are better. Let’s take a quick look at how these pairs pitched in the first round.

aces

The Dodgers won the 2 games Wolf and Kershaw pitched, but they more won in spite of them than because of them. Wolf gave up 6 hits and walked 5 in 3.2 innings, while Kershaw pitched into the 7th but still gave up 9 hits. I doubt that they will sport a 2.03 WHIP again in this series; they are much better pitchers than that, but they didn’t pitch particularly well against a worse line-up than ours. On our end, Lee has been magnificent, and Hamels would fall into the Wolf / Kershaw category. If you look at regular season stats, both Wolf and Kershaw posted better numbers than Hamels but usually don’t go much more than 6 innings. The Dodgers have seriously struggled against Hamels, while the Phils got to both Wolf and Kershaw this season. Edge to the Phillies.

On a side note that I just can’t help from posting. I have always thought that Clayton Kershaw looks like a werewolf and noted it in my Game 4 NLCS blog last year. Therefore I find it tremendous that Randy Wolf is the #1 starter ahead of him and I can write the phrase “Wolf / Kershaw category” in an appropriate context.

The Mids

Joe Blanton / Pedro Martinez / J.A. Happ

vs. Vicente Padilla / Hiroki Kuroda / Chad Billingsley

This is a tough category to grade because we don’t know who is going to be pitching out of these groups for either squad. Padilla pitched 7 scoreless in his first start, and Happ pitched poorly in the 20-degree night in Colorado. Let’s look at the combined stats for each trio in September.

mids

Though for most of the year Blanton and Happ were more than stellar, it’s pretty clear that the Dodgers’ group has been better lately, and really that is what matters. Their two likely starters, Padilla and Kuroda, have ERA’s of 3.20 and 2.72 respectively since August. If the Phils’ guys pitch like it’s July, advantage Phils. But it’s not July, so edge to the Dodgers.

Leadoffs

Jimmy Rollins / Shane Victorino

vs. Rafael Furcal / Matt Kemp

The season stats of the two lead-off hitters and 2-hole hitters are pretty similar…

topord

Though he doesn’t get on base as much, I take Rollins over Furcal. Furcal is mostly a singles hitter, and Rollins is a much better producer in scoring situations. Kemp over Victorino by a hair because of his power threat and even better speed threat on the bases. It’s tough to choose between the pairs, but I’m giving the edge to the Dodgers, because right now Kemp is the best offensive player of the four. Slight edge to the Dodgers.

RBI Guys

Chase Utley / Ryan Howard / Jayson Werth

vs. Andre Ethier / Manny Ramirez / James Loney

As I said in the NLDS preview, I don’t think there is a trio in the entire league that I would put over the Phils’ guys here. But just in case you needed statistical proof, here are the average 2009 season numbers for each team (even adjusting for Manny’s 50-game suspension):

RBIguys

After looking at the Dodgers’ numbers, it actually seems that Ethier, not Manny, has been the better run producer this year. Manny only had 19 HR and 63 RBI – adding 50 more games to that puts him around 24 and 88. He’s not the Manny of last year, but he’s still Manny – and still dangerous. Edge to the Phillies.

Bottom Feeders

Raul Ibanez / Pedro Feliz / Carlos Ruiz

vs. Casey Blake / Ronnie Belliard / Russell Martin

Let’s hope Pedro Feliz doesn’t have money on the Dodgers, because he clearly had it on the Rockies. In one of the worst offensive performances I’ve seen in the playoffs, Feliz took half swings at first pitch breaking balls in almost every at-bat in the NLDS. If I’m Charlie Manuel, I seriously consider starting Miguel Cairo over him. On the bright side, Ibanez and Ruiz probably had the best ABs of any Phillies in the series, making the pitcher work, and usually getting hits.

As for the comparison, this is pretty easy for me. Ibanez > Blake, Feliz < Belliard and Ruiz > Martin. Belliard has been so hot lately, he’s supplanted Orlando Hudson at 2B, which isn’t easy to do. Blake is solid, but Martin gets on base and nothing more. Ibanez playing like he did at the beginning of the year, and Ruiz sporting a Utley-esque 0.925 OPS since August makes this an easy call. Edge to the Phillies.

Middle Relief

Ryan Madson / Chan Ho Park / Scott Eyre

vs. George Sherrill / Ronald Belisario / Hong-Chih Kuo

If Lidge is now the full time closer, and if Chan Ho Park is really coming back, this part of the bullpen looks a lot better than it did for the NLDS. However, it’s not going to overtake the Dodgers. Sherrill and Kuo are going to be a very dangerous left-handed combo, and Utley, Howard and Ibanez should be ready to see a lot of them. Sherrill has only allowed 2 earned runs in his 30 games with the Dodgers and is likely to be a weapon for them the way Madson was for us last year. Edge to the Dodgers.

Closer

Brad Lidge

vs. Jonathan Broxton

This was the shortest category last year as Brad Lidge was perfect and Broxton was shaky. This year? Still the shortest, for pretty much exact opposite reasons. Edge to the Dodgers.

Bench

Ben Francisco / Greg Dobbs / Matt Stairs

vs. Jim Thome / Orlando Hudson / Mark Loretta

If someone can explain to me how Stairs and Dobbs had 5 ABs in the NLDS and Francisco has 1, I’d love to hear it. Charlie has fallen in love too much with L/R match-ups, Francisco should be getting every important pinch-hitting AB, regardless of pitcher. Meanwhile, the Dodgers, like the Rockies, have 2 starters sitting on their bench and a great pinch hitter in Loretta. Edge to the Dodgers.

Manager

Charlie Manuel

vs. Joe Torre

Last year this was a slam dunk for Torre, but this year, with a series championship under Charlie’s belt, it’s not that simple. However, while it’s close, I’m still giving the edge to Torre. Torre just won his 19th playoff series just the other day, but more impressive was the job he did with the Dodgers this year. Losing Manny for 50 games, having an ace (Billingsley) fall off the face of the earth, several injuries to starting pitchers, and several young streaky players in the line-up, and still no problem getting the NL’s best record. Edge to the Dodgers.

Intangibles

  • Dodgers have home field advantage
  • Phillies have league’s best road record
  • The Dodgers, like the Phillies in 2008, have the same group of players coming back to the playoffs after some quality experience the prior year. They’ll have less fear in them this time around.
  • The Phillies have slightly better team defense
  • LA’s lefties could neutralize Ryan Howard
  • Phillies are better baserunners as a team (0.27 vs. -1.8 EqBRR average)
  • Dodgers are only 45-38 since July 1st, Phillies are 54-33

Not a whole lot here, but as I’ve seen enough Phillies games won by their defense and baserunning to know it has more impact than the Dodgers’ home field. Slight edge to Phillies.

Prediction

The Phillies took only 4 of the 10 categories, but obviously I’m not making my prediction based solely on that. They have the better front-end starters and the better overall line-up while the Dodgers are a deeper club in pretty much every area.

This has the potential to be a truly great series. The Phillies are on a mission to repeat and have more confidence and desire than I’ve seen in a Philadelphia sports team in my entire life. The Dodgers remind me a lot of our 2008 squad as I mentioned above. They are young, hungry and have tasted the post-season enough to not get cold feet.

There are 3 players that will likely decide whether or not the Phillies win this series. First of all, Cole Hamels needs to put together 2 quality starts; they don’t have to be dominant but 7 innings, 2-3 runs – something like that. Second, Jayson Werth needs to continue to rake because I have a feeling Howard is going to have trouble this series with Wolf, Kershaw and the lefty relievers. Finally, Lidge needs to continue his short revival, if only for a couple more weeks.

Chances are, like last year, the teams will be so evenly matched that it will come down to a couple plays (the Matt Stairs’ HR comes to mind for some reason). There is a part of me that thinks the Dodgers will win, and I am certain this will be the toughest series of our last two years.  But after watching last night’s game and hearing Jimmy say after the game, as he has many times before:

We don’t play this game to walk away in October and say, ‘Well, it was a great season. See ya in spring training.’ We have something to prove on this team. We want to be known as winners. We want that legacy. We want to be known the way everyone knows New York and Boston.

They were only the 3rd NL team since 1922 to win a post-season series after winning the World Series the year before; they are a unique squad. And I do think they are winners, and you’d have to be crazy to think I’m picking against them now.

Final prediction:  Phillies in Seven

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Comments

  1. jkay says:

    “they are a unique squad. And I do think they are winners, and you’d have to be crazy to think I’m picking against them now.”  – well said Pete!! i wasnt sure till they rallied in that 9th inning; thats the Phillies that I know, the crazy comeback kids, they’re playing like that now, thats enough to bring us a title.

  2. jjg says:

    Colbert likes throwing from the lower mound at Dodger Stadium, but the bigger issue is, has he received permission from his wife to pitch tomorrow?  And, if so, has she restricted his pitch count?  (Last we saw him, he was in the dugout after being relieved in Game 2, then went off stealthily and determinedly … like Clark Kent used to after being given an informational tidbit by Lois Lane.)   My hunch is, he’ll throw a gem on the wings of fatherhood pride or a dud due to sleep deprivation … no in-between.

    Nice balanced look at NLCS, Pete.  Enjoyed reading your takes on the pending clash, segment by segment.  The pick of Phillies in 7 rings slightly sentimental to me, but I understand that it’s hard to pick against the Phillies, who, during the past few seasons, have raised their level of play when pressed.

    Hamels, Werth, Lidge … interesting keys … but on a true team like the Phillies, unlikely heroes consistently surface.  Their 25 man esprit de corps (engendered by Charlie and a doting, patient organization on the whole) is truly impressive … but it may not be enough vs. talented Dodgers.  Can’t forever dig out of holes. 

    Wolf & Padilla are scorned as castaways by local fans, but the enigmatic latter is undeniably blessed with a strong arm and the former knows how to pitch; shouldn’t approach either lightly at this point in their considerable careers.  Torre seems to believe in them as utilities.  My pick is Dodgers in 7.  Phils’ glory run ends by reasons of mental and emotional exhaustion (a natural time expiration) and Dodgers’ stronger relief staff.  
      
    P.S.  Agree, that Feliz had a lousy plate performance (too many early swings) vs. Rockies but his dependable (unflashy) fielding, like the guy next to him, is important to the cause.  Cairo should remain on the bench for situational deployment, choice moments.    

  3. jjg says:

    Just heard Tommy Lasorda chat it up with Macnow & Bottalico on WIP.  Though he’s Dodger blue through and through, ya can’t help but like that guy.  Salt-of-the-earth, and loves the game of baseball.  He signed off with a salute to Harry Kalas and John Marzano. 

  4. Andrew says:

    I think that Rollins really needs to have a better series for this team to win the NLCS.  He played well in Game 4, but for us to win we need him to steal bases, score more than once, and get more than 5 hits.  His numbers were not good at all in the NLDS.

    Pitching we should have the uppen hand when it comes to starters.. if Cole can pitch as well as he has against the Dodgers recently (this year/last postseason), but if we have to rely on the ‘pen then who knows where this series goes.

    The part that I think decides it is the experience factor (which goes to the Phils) and who can stomach the pressure.  As we all remember, last year’s series got very chippy (thanks to Shane) and there seemed to be a lot of drama.  I do not see any reason that this will not happen again – stakes are high, these teams don’t like eachother, and the fans of both teams are incredibly passionate.

    Should be an unreal series.

  5. Pete says:

    yeah, Feliz does need to be in there for his glove. But he’s GOT to give a better effort at the plate.

  6. jkay says:

    Hiroki Kuroda’s back for Game 4 which might be trouble for the Phillies. he’s a Tim Redding type pitcher that the Phils always lose against, plus he has good control of his breaking ball. beat us last year in LCS. Phils need to get out to a good start.
    speaking of; my money is on Kershaw for Game 1. facing an opponent like the Phils, i doubt that Wolf, the conservative choice, is the way to go. Hard thrower against our lefties. I still think we can beat him. Hamels just needs to show up.
    Pedro Feliz is doing as much damage as he is preventing. Bases Loaded situations are the one opportunity you have to knock a starter out of the game and put up some runs. Hammel should have been checked out that inning. Not only did he mess up, he wiped out our baserunner on 3rd. same situation again, all he had to do was make contact and he strikes out! how much can you take? if we had lost, it’d be a different story. well hope he fares better against the lefties.

  7. phillyfan says:

    Dodgers only had the better record by one game out of 162.  not sure why everyone makes a big deal out of that.  Phillies also stumbled at the end of year or they would have leapfrogged the Dodgers.  Phillies best road team in baseball – they love the road, just love it.  I think they are better on the road than home and starting on the road is great.

    For all the great ERA’s on the Dodgers, I just don’t buy that they will dominate the Phillies.  Again, all those great ERAs only translated into one more win than the Phillies.  It tells me their offense is really very average and they will need to score runs to beat the Phillies – like 4 or more a game.  Against St louis they needed two a game and sometimes struggled for that.  I just really think that the Dodgers just can’t score enough to win 4 games.  Finally, we shall see how those ERAs hold up to the bright lights and a patient, seasoned team like the Phillies.  Remember, the Rockies had the better staff too – starters, releivers, and closers.  See how that turned out.  The fewest runs the Phillies scored was 4.  Give me a break as though Wolk and Padilla are going to give the Phillies problems.  Phils will chew those guys up.  Do not confuse the Phillies with the Cardinals.

    I have heard some suggest that the Phillies should move their lineup around to balance it better versus the Dodgers lefties.  I wouldn’t touch the starting lineup, except maybe flip-flop Ruiz and Feliz, just cause Feliz stinks.  You send the wrong message to change your lineup.  Right now, the Dodgers are the ones that need to prove themselves.  In changing your lineup you only give them a vote of confidence – admitting that you think they are better than you, and you put question marks in the phillies minds.  If Dodgers win the first two, and demonstrate they are better, then move the lineup around.

    The Philles will win in 5 or 6.  It won’t be that close.

  8. Ken Bland says:

    Thanks for the effort that went into the post.  No disrespect,  and I’m not attempting to reinvent the wheel, but some of your work is meaningless.  The format of comparing participants is as old as the first time print and post season babseball met.  But you compare the various parts as if they are facing each other.  Rather this is about matchups.  It doesn’t matter if the Dodgers pen is better than the Phils.  It matters if that pen s favorable against the hitters they are likely to see.  If you think they can get those hitters out more likely than the Phils pen is against the Dodgers hitters, then the pen advantage goes to LA.  Personally, I think that more relavant angle makes these bullpens a lot closer.  Also, the revenge factor is ridiculous.  A winner is more likely to be more motivated to prove their achievement than the previous loser is when you combine that with their uncerainty from not having won.  Its not like the Dodgers are that much improved or different in personality than a year ago.   

  9. Ian says:

    Its not like the Dodgers are that much improved or different in personality than a year ago.
    I totally disagree, being a Dodger fan it was amazing the difference in the “kids” this year, and the entire team makeup.  We’ll see how they do, but Kemp, Ethier, Loney and Kershaw grew up this year.  They were wide eyed kids last year, and this year they have some serious experience under their belts.  They are young, and could still choke, but I’ve watched a different team this year, and it was a lot of fun.   I think I agree mostly with the point that it will be a good series, we’ll give more of a fight than we did last year.
    Don’t discount the revenge factor,  and not having won?  I think they’ve got some confidence from the regular season wins (4 out of 7, and that’s exactly what we need to do, I’m sure I’ll get razzed cause it’s early in the season, but it was still this season).  Too bad we have to wait another day for it all to start…

  10. Ken Bland says:

    Ian, Points about your kids having grown up so to speak are well taken, but the absence of a Derrick Lowe type in a short series is a subtraction that gets to my conclusion tht the net change is essentially the same bottom line.   Personally, I don’t see where 4 of 7 regular season wins inspires confidence, but you can believe it.  For what it’s worth, 2 of those were blown Lidge saves.  I choose to overlook those, which I’m sure you don’t.  In 1983, the Dodgers beat the Phils 11 of 12 in the regular season.  I stand by my points, as I’m sure you do, and there will be a correct answer within a maximum of 7 games. 

  11. Pete says:

    I think “meaningless” is a little harsh given we don’t know the exact match-ups that will happen. What am I supposed to do? Compare Broxton against each individual on the team? We have no idea what part of the order he will face. We might match-up awesome if Utley, Howard and Ibanez are coming up, but he might never face them. It’s much easier to just say: The Dodgers have a better closer. It’s just an overview preview.

    And it’s certainly relevant to those who don’t know jack about the current Dodgers team.

  12. jkay says:

    phillyfan: ‘I just really think that the Dodgers just can’t score enough to win 4 games. ’ – agreed. all of a sudden, its fashionable to pick the Dodgers. Their bullpen is legit but I dont buy all that bout their lineup. Matt Kemp is dangerous, Manny is a difference maker but beyond that I aint buying. Ethier hitting walk offs does not automatically make him a clutch hitter. Loney is an above average hitter. Furcal is good at what he does; speed. They are very solid all around but with good pitching can be handled.

    Ian: the ‘revenge’ thing kinda goes out the door when you get to the playoffs. everyone’s fightin for their lives. why did the Angels finally beat the BoSox?? cos they played better for that series. but you’re right, it will be hard fought. Dodgers are one of those teams with almost no weaknessses as opposed to a Phillies team with imposing strengths.

  13. Pete says:

    Dodgers have set their rotation…

    Game 1: Kershaw

    Game 2: Padilla’s Floatilla

    Game 3: Kuroda

    Game 4: Wolf

    Probably smart to start the eccentric Padilla at home and not in Philly

  14. markg says:

    It’s funny that Ken Bland remarks that someone’s work is meaningless.
    Ken Bland and phillyfan makes some of the most ridiculous points that wreak of blind homerism and absolute useless readership. 
    “Again, all those great ERAs only translated into one more win than the Phillies. ”
    Over the course of a 162-game season, only one game separates them. Yet, you predict the Phillies to win EASILY.  Why is that?  The mythical “intangibles” factor? LOL…
    “Remember, the Rockies had the better staff too – starters, relievers, and closers. ”
    In what universe did you pull that ridiculous stat out of?  Thin air?
    The Dodgers have arguably the best closer on the planet (statistically) and has better stuff than Huston Street.  And the Dodgers pitching corp. finished the year with the best ERA in the Majors.  
     ”It matters if that pen s favorable against the hitters they are likely to see.  If you think they can get those hitters out more likely than the Phils pen is against the Dodgers hitters, then the pen advantage goes to LA.  Personally, I think that more relavant angle makes these bullpens a lot closer. ”
    LA pitchers against lefties this year:
    Sherrill – 323 OPS
    Broxton – 414 OPS
    Wolf – 417 OPS
    Kershaw – 489 OPS
    Kuo – 524 OPS

    Some lefties on the Phillies hit left-handed pitching fairly well, but again you make baseless claims with no educated basis. 
    There is so much more that is wrong with these posts, but we’ll just leave it that. 

    Baseball playoffs is the biggest crapshoot in professional sports outside of the Superbowl.  This series is so evenly matched, it can go either way.  Hell, both the Dodgers-Cards series and Rockies-Phillies series could’ve gone either way.
    You make it seem like the Phillies are going to blow by the Dodgers like it’s an afterthought.  Take your crimson-tinted glasses off and just sit back and enjoy the games between these two very evenly matched fantastic baseball clubs.

  15. jjg says:

    A majority of pitchers are eccentric, including present Phillies.  Would Padilla be regarded as such if English wasn’t his second language?  Imagine Cole Hamels in the eyes of Nicaraguans if plying his trade there.  Always thought Vicente was mischaracterized and underrated due to being lost in translation.  I like the guy as a pitcher; good stuff, isn’t afraid to dust hitters.  98 career wins in 11 seasons with average talent teams until LA (Ariz, Philly & Texas) … not bad for a “bum” …  maybe he’ll move Utley & Howard off the plate with 93 mph “advice” … reactions would be interesting.  A K per inning w/Dodgers so far. 

  16. Pete says:

    jjg -
    On Padilla – has nothing to do with language or anything. When I worked at the Phillies, it was common knowledge that Padilla did not listen to a word his pitching coach or catcher said his entire time in his career and gave a half-assed effort much of the time. He didn’t care for his teammates or anyone but himself.
    If you don’t care about my personal experience, I think the fact that a pitching starved team (the Rangers) flat out released him in the middle of a playoff race because he was such a bad influence in the clubhouse and it was clear to them that he wasn’t trying.
    I think he treats baseball as a job he hates. Given his stuff (which is great) he should have had a much more successful career than he has. It’s clear he turns it on and off when he feels like it. Unfortunately for the Phils, he’s been “on” recently.

  17. phillyfan says:

    lets look at this rotation:
    Kershaw – good young promising pitcher.  But a young pup regardless.  Hamels is still the reigning WS MVP who has dominated the Dodgers, even this year, a supposed off year.
    Padilla – this is journeyman.  He has never had a great season his entire career. The sudden love for this guy is amazing me.  He will look good for 2-3 innings and then get pounded when the Phils sees him for the second time and he feels the heat.  I can’t emphasize enough – Phillies offense is level above the Cards.
    Kuroda – solid #3, BUT hasn’t pitched in awhile.  Tell me he isn’t rusty.
    Wolf – journeyman.  Another nice #3 or #4, but jeez, has he ever won big?
    Look at that again.  For this time of the postseason, that is not an imposing staff whatsoever.  Who would not take Lee/Hamels/Blanton and Happ/Martinez.  So they are lefties – Phils have a very good record against lefties and three good hitter in Rollins, Victorino, Werth and a hot Ruiz.   That starting 4 is downright average and I think the Phils are not very worried.  I am sorry Dodger fan, but I just don’t think the bullpens will matter much.  Your starters last year worried me more.
     

  18. Ken Bland says:

    Mark, You said both the Cards-LA, and Phils Rox could have gone either way.  You will notice the Cards lost in a landslide.  The Phils won 3 of 4, and battled back to within an eyelash in the game 2 loss.  All 4 are strong clubs, and of course they could have gone either way.  That’s my point.  My perspective is the Phils are at a point where they look to me to be ready to tke this to another level.   It’s my opinion that the Dodgers don’t look like they have the championship mentality the Phils do.  Could they prove me wrong?  Of course.   But that’s what I think.  As for the stats you provided on the Dodgers pen versus lefties, that is largely irrelavant.  Those are compiled against the League.  This series is against specific hitters on a specific team.  The Phillies have mediocore batting averages aginst the Dodger rlievers as a general rule.  But this is a game of averages.  To me, the Phillies have the confidence and focus where they have seen just enough of these pitchers to where they have a good chance at averaging things out combined with this observed focus and confidence.  Scott Eyre has a poor history against Manny, so you likely won’t see him pitch to him.  But when success is the history, you pound it until its not there.  Since Torre will manage on a very short lase, the Phils will see those same pitchers again (except Sherril who they haven’t seen).  So the LA pen advantage, based on that forecast is minimized.  I won’t bore you with why I think the Phillies pen has possible positives to add to the equation.  The bottom line is that just because a series looks like it has the appearance of being hard fought doesn’t mean it will be.   Off the top of my head, witness the Mets in 69, Reds in 90.  Diamond Mind Baseball played the Phils and LA 1000 times, and 1 team won over 700 times with the most common result the series winner doing so in 5.  There on paper results don’t see this as even.   Perhaps they are right, perhps my view proves right.  Maybe yours.  Enjoy the games.

  19. Pete says:

    the baseball playoffs are indeed, a crapshoot. that’s why it is so hard to repeat.

  20. Ken Bland says:

    The hard to repeat concept is maybe overplayed.  How far back do we want to go?  And are we just talking World Series, or can we include just pennants? In 69-71, the Orioles won 3 straight AL flags, 1 WS.  The Reds won in 75-76, the Dodgers won pennants in 77-78.  And that’s probably as far as they were destined to go.  The A’s won pennants from 88-90, the Yanks won 3 straight series 98-00.  It’s hard enough to win 1 World Series, let alone 2 in a row but its not like there isn’t  real quality multi year post season runs even in the years since free agency.   One thing for sure, if you go in expecting not to repeat, you probably won’t.  Clearly, repeats in the NL are rare.  Even in the last 20 years, repeat serious deep playoff runs have occurred toward the ends of the decase.  This is 2009.  Draw your own conclusions.

  21. phillyfan says:

    Ken – yes the Phils could have easily gone to a Game 5.  But the Phils won Game 4 – as opposed to the Cards, which lost Game 2.  the Dodgers didn’t win that game on merit – it was a Cardinal error.  If Cards win that game then they could have had the momentum and won in 4 games at home.  That loss clearly sucked the life out of them.  The Phils won in 4 because they were the better team.

  22. markg says:

    Ken Bland,
    Your view on baseball (and my guess, sports in general) is quite flawed and unfortunately shared by many casual fans of sports (and I concede, this is JMHO).
    But your off-the-cuff observations such as:
    My perspective is the Phils are at a point where they look to me to be ready to take this to another level.   It’s my opinion that the Dodgers don’t look like they have the championship mentality the Phils do.

    These have no basis whatsoever and contribute little when predicting a series or even making a valid argument for either side.   How do you quantify this?  Do you have special Championship-evaluator X-ray vision binocular goggles that can decipher this?  It’s this ” je ne sais quoi”, “i-can-judge-with-just-my-eyes-cuz-i-dunno aw shucks, i-can-just-tell” element that people need to do away with when trying to reasonably predict baseball.   All the while discrediting something that is actually factual like “lefty pitching vs. lefty batting” as being “largely irrelevant” is extremely ignorant.
    Those are compiled against the League.  This series is against specific hitters on a specific team. 

    Yea, no kidding.  Against all the lefties of the League.  How is that not a relevant stat?  Do the Phillies play with magical bats coated with anti-lefty-effectiveness  sauce?
    There are awesome batters and horrible batters in the NL.  Bottom line, Dodger lefties have shut them down at a very impressive clip.  And more often than not, these relievers come in LATE in the game with the pressure of facing the opposing teams’ best batters at crucial moments.
    Ok, how about how the Phillies fare against lefties (which the Dodgers have absolutely LOADED up onto their NLCS roster)?  Well, they batted .248 against lefties as opposed to .262 vs. righties.  Oh, right, you don’t believe in that stuff.  You believe Phillies just got that “confidence and focus” to fight through that.
    I’m not saying the Phillies are favored or the Dodgers are favored.  All I’m saying is use something other than just your eyes.  You’ve mentioned nothing about the Phillies that the Dodgers don’t have either (I can see the “yea championship rings” wisecracks already).   I don’t think this time of the year the Dodgers lack “confidence and focus” either.
    Bottom line, it’s a almost a toss-up, the teams are THAT evenly matched.  And even if one team comes through in maybe 4 or 5 games, I’m sure all the games will be heavily contested…making for an absolute classic.
    Just don’t come to the table with silly, anecdotal statements that really don’t back your team or prediction.  I guess this is geared more towards phillyfan who really doesn’t know jack about baseball.
    Enjoy the games!
     
     


     

  23. markg says:

    If Cards win that game then they could have had the momentum and won in 4 games at home.  That loss clearly sucked the life out of them.  The Phils won in 4 because they were the better team.
     
    LOL…thank you Nostradamus.  Your intuition is amazing.
    Dodgers won the series because they got lucky.  A ball bounced their way.
    Phillies won because they are better.
    That’s it.  Phillyfan has spoken.  End of story.
    Let’s just print those Philly World Series tickets right now.

  24. Pete says:

    markg-

    don’t really get the animosity. casual fans are entitled to their own opinions too.

    Against all the lefties of the League.  How is that not a relevant stat?  Do the Phillies play with magical bats coated with anti-lefty-effectiveness  sauce?”

    Utley and Ibanez do… Howard does not… as you said above, look at the numbers…

  25. Pete says:

    looks like Pedro in Game 2…

    Pedro vs. Padilla…. over/under on HBP?

  26. judas_priest says:

    jjg:  What’s with this “Colbert” crap?  His name is Cole (Cole Michael Hamels per Baseball_Reference.com).
    BTW, the mound at Dodger stadium is not lower than normal; it is higher:
    “Newer ballparks do not need significant infield crowns because their playing surfaces have a sand base and drain better. For years, players have said mounds at many older park–especially Dodger Stadium–make the pitcher look like Moses peering down from Mount Sinai. MLB, in fact, ordered the mound at Wrigley Field lowered an inch last month.”
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_26_227/ai_104440066/

  27. Ken Bland says:

    Against the League includes the Washington Nationals, Mets, Pirates and Houston.  And others.  Its not as relavant as direct competition.   I have a hard time understanding how you can’t understand that point even if you choose not to agree with it.    And I speciafically said to Pete, NO DISRESPECT, bu SOME of your work is meaningless.  I place as much emphsis on body langauge of walking off the field after the next to last win of a series as I do some stats.   Bill Conlin wrote that the Phils are going to the World Series.  he mentioned resilience.  How do you measure resilience?  What qualifies one to factually articulate resilience?     The Cardinals were resilient until the end of the seson.  Near the end of the play, they were eliminated from the script.  Was I supposd to be robotic in 1980 when the Phils beat Houston in Game 5 and statistically analyze the Kansas City Royals?   That was so completely about heart and character and hunger. The leaning toward Pedro in game 2 is typical Charlie.   Earlier today, elsewhere, I wrote that it would be just like Charlie to do that.  Pedro himself, of course said the other night that a relief appearance would not a bad idea before another start, and yet Charlie goes with the comfort of Dodger Stadium as the determining factor as maybe the reason.    Typically gutsy stuff.  Charlie knows more about riverboat gambling than the guy that built the riverboat.  I don’t see Game 2 as a beanball war necessarily.  I get the impression Pedro is all business about this possible last year.   That doesn’t mean he will backdown, but I wonder if Padilla could really be that ridiculous at this point. On the subject of how the Cardinals could have won the series against the Dodgers, I believe it to be a very true statement that in the first round, the Angels beat the Red Sox (example).  The Cardinals beat themselves.  Off the season ending woes of everyone in the League except the Rox,  we need to be carful on how much credit we give the Dodgers for beating St. Louis.  The Dodgers may wind up playing very well this Series, but it seems unclear to me that they have turned things back around.  The Phils on the other hand, bullpen isssues still exsisting, at least mostly hit with RISP and looked alert against the Rox, a far cry from some of their September ugliness. 

  28. markg says:

    Yes, and also against the rest of the League including Cardinals, Rockies, Cubs, Marlins, and your uber-resilient Phillies…what’s your point?
    Should I dock your team’s overall record and talent level for being in the same division as 2 of the 4 “horrible” teams you just mentioned?  After all, you play the most games within your division.
    Your extravagant, tired rhetoric about  resilient, gutsy, character-filled baseball is baffling.  All championship clubs have those attributes.  So do a lot of the runner-ups of any given year.  It is pretty silly to think  that if either team wins this NLCS (or ALCS for that matter), it will be due to any of those attributes.   Simply put, both teams will play hard, and I guarantee you just because one team loses, it won’t be because of a lack of resilience (or any other gutso-meter you may employ).   You’re living in a Hollywood world.  Funny an LA guy is telling a Philly guy that.
    You really lost me when you started talking about riverboat gambling.
     
    Anyhow, I can agree to disagree. 
    May the best team win.
     

  29. jjg says:

    Colbert as in Dilbert as in Dagwood.  Call him anything you like, as will I.  And try being correct before correcting.   

    Second point was a bull’s-eye; should’ve realized he preferred a higher mound … like the elevating seat cushion for little shavers at the barber shop.  If he doesn’t cry during Game 1 he’ll get a lollipop and a noogie from Uncle Cholly.

    Greatest 3.67 pitcher on earth. 

  30. jkay says:

    ok!!!! some guys base their views on facts and stats and some guys use their eyes and perceptions. different views, we don’t really have to argue.
    Not to take away anything from the Dodgers but the Cardinals helped A LOT in that series. apart from key mistakes, just a general lack of urgency in the lineup or something, cant really put my hand on it. they looked …. stale.
    as per lefties;  if the Phils see a pitcher frequently enough, they will hit him. especially with starters. but lefty relievers will just about dominate, for the simple fact that they are specialists and you dont see ‘em much. how that makes a huge difference in the series? I dunno. for all the Ks they induce, the one hit that Howard or Utley gets against them might be enough to decide a game.

    jjg: if you don’t like Hamels, just say it.

  31. jjg says:

    jkay:  Who are you – Mother Goose?  When I wanta spend more time on a 48 win pitcher, I will.  But not until.   

  32. Morty says:

    Everybody’s sure is testy here…
    Phils have a better lineup and starting staff (if Hamels pitches to capability), Dodgers present a better bullpen with the potential neutralize Howard in the late innings. A toss up of a series, although I am puzzled by the way Torre set his pitching rotation.

  33. Pete says:
    Full Name Colbert Michael Hamels
  34. Pete says:

    Chan Ho Park and Eric Bruntlett replace Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick on the roster

  35. jkay says:

    good call. we need more position players than relievers for a 7 game series.

    Morty: I didnt understand why he set it that way at first but to be honest they have no #2 pitcher behind Kershaw so it doesnt make a difference who goes, its all the same.

    If we can beat Kershaw today, then the pressure will really be on. we need to have a solid start from that #2 guy. I dont like all this Pedro mania. has Charlie announced it yet?

  36. stu says:

    What are the odds that Rollins leads off game one swinging at the first pitch and bouncing out to the infield?  2/1?

  37. stu says:

    Here is an interesting fact about Vicente Padilla:

    A few years ago, he showed up to “Club Deco” at 2:30 in the morning with a bunch of his entourage.  I happened to be there as well (don’t ask).  Club Deco is a seedy Philly club next to Delilah’s Den.  My friends and I were astonished to see him because…he was pitching the next night against the Marlins!  Go to bed dude. 

    I haven’t taken him seriously since that night.

  38. Ian says:

    Morty, Kershaw is young and is a good lefty match against Hamel, the home croud will calm him down, Torre might have been worried about him getting rattled by the Phillie crowd??   He’s solid too, and if he has a good outing can shut down Phillies lefties, I think it’s a good choice.  He is a little more dominant that Wolf.  I’m a little nervous about Kuroda, he has been out for some time, but I guess I gotta trust Honeycut that he’s back.   Padilla was incredible against the Cards last week, if he repeats, we’ll either be 1-1 or 2-0, probably better to have a veteran that has pitched well for us go #2 and make up for a first game loss, than young Kershaw, who has to be nervous, and would take even more weight on his shoulders if we are down 0-1.  (Although, he’s been rock solid, and should have won many more games, he didn’t get very good run support this year, as is the case with Wolf too)
    On the run support thing, I’m wondering why we are talking about pitching for the Dodgers so much, what they really need are runs, and I’m still nervous every time I watch them, we had to have set a record for men left on base this year.  We really don’t allow that many runs.  But we don’t score that many runs either.  If they can produce runs, I am confident in our pitching, meaning, I think our pitchers are all capable of allowing only 2 or 3 runs a game.  But even with that, we could easily lose.  I’ve seen too many games where we had good pitching (2 runs is good in my book) and only scored 1 run.  I think back to Hamels game earlier this year, we lost 0-2.  One home run and we were out, we couldn’t even score a single run.
    Looking forward to a good series, I’m hoping it’s a good fight on both sides.  Dodgers in 6.

  39. bski says:

    Nice story, Stu.

    I guess that explains Torre’s thinking about starting Padilla in game 2 in LA.  He knows that if Padilla were to pitch in Philly there is a good chance he’d be tempted by the night life, not get enough sleep, and perform poorly, whereas in a sleepy town like LA there’s nothing to keep him out at night and he’ll get to bed early.

  40. bski says:

    I found this on the LA Times Dodgers’ Blog, Dodger Thoughts:

    “……there’s a flu bug circulating through the team, so far affecting Jeff Weaver and Russell Martin (along with coach Don Mattingly). So the team might not be at 2,500%* when the series begins. ”

    Hate to have something like this affect this series——who is available,  how they will perform, etc……

  41. jkay says:

    Ian: for a Dodgers fan on a Phillies blog, you’re remarkably cordial. as per men left on base I wouldnt worry too much about that stat. Its the same problem we have with the Phils here. Firstly leaving a lot of men on base means you managed to get a lot on. Thats a good thing. When runners are on base, the pitcher doubles his effort, so its hard for any club to have a great average with ROB. but in the end all that matters is if you score runs or not, how you do it I dont care. Errors, Bloopers, Walks, it dont matter. people always get on here about the Phillies relying the long ball to score. we won a game against the Nationals with 4 or 5 solo HRs and no hits otherwise.  as long as you can score somehow, thats all that matters.

  42. Ian says:

    Found you guys last year and thought it a pretty good place to get scoop on your guys.  I dont follow all teams much, so during playoffs try to find what to watch for.  You all were decent enough last year, I sort of get tired of the ESPN chats.   Also, we had too many walk off wins this year, that game plan get my blood pressure up.

  43. bski says:

    I agree with Ian that the Dodgers scoring runs, as in will they, is a major issue, probably the deciding one, in this series.  Manny hurt us last year, but he was the only one that did any significant damage.  We pretty much shut everyone else down and Manny couldn’t do enough by himself to beat us.  The Dodgers need more from somewhere in order to beat us this year as well.

    To that end, I think a key for the Dodgers is how much they get out of their young guys like Ethier and Kemp (who had not a single home run or RBI between them in the entire series last year, btw).  If they have grown from their playoff experience against us last year and are productive this year, it will go a long way for the Dodgers and make it that much tougher for us.

    I agree with Pete that Cole Hamels is a key for us.  If he can give us two Cliff Lee-like (or Cole Hamels 2008-like) starts, which added to two from Lee should mean four very good starts for us, I say we win the series in 6 games.  If he doesn’t (and let’s face it, we’ve been waiting and waiting for the 2008 postseason Cole Hamels to show up), we’re going to have a tough time getting past the Dodgers.  I can’t make myself pick against us, but in that case we’d either need to have Pedro or Blanton (maybe both) give us a good start to make up for any poor showings by Hamels, or we’d need or offense to step up and cover it.

    Can’t wait to see how it plays out.

  44. Ian says:

    I like the Lee – Kuroda matchup.  If there is a game we would concede it would be this one (just like we were thinking about Wainwright), so I will look forward to seeing how he does, if he is on, he could compete with Lee (he was our opening day guy, and in the running for No. 1 guy), but with his injury and being out Im a little doubtful.  So maybe this will be a good test for him, if he blows it, chances are this would be a loss anyway.  I dont like to think this way, but with our limited resources sometimes you have to manage with what you have.

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