Better Know a NLCS Pitching Matchup

Before I get to the pitching matchups, the big story today is FOX’s Tim McCarver bashing Manny to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“It’s extraordinary – the dichotomy between what he was in Boston and what he is in Los Angeles,” McCarver said. “I mean, talk about wearing out your welcome in a town, and it was a long welcome with the Red Sox. But some of the things he did were simply despicable, despicable – like not playing, refusing to play. Forgetting what knee to limp on. And now it’s washed, it’s gone.”

This is one of those cases where you have to take into consideration the source. Tim, no one disputes that Manny’s exit from Boston was ugly, although you still have to wonder how much of that was Manny’s doing and how much of it was Scott Boras taking time away from drinking the blood of children. It was unprofessional, and his wild success in LA has taken the focus away from that. Got it. But maybe this isn’t the type of thing a supposedly impartial announcer who’s about to call the NLCS involving that player should say? Don’t forget folks – Tim McCarver is the most intolerable announcer this side of Joe Morgan, and the fact that it’s pretty close says a lot.
Just in case you want to brush up on just how awful McCarver is, let me present you with some links to sites that have done it way better than I could – FireJoeMorgan, BestWeekEver (that’s right, even a non-sports site can’t stand him), and best of all, ShutUpTimMcCarver. Hilariously or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the great video clips on each of those sites no longer work. Thanks, FOX!
Let me put it this way: Tim McCarver and Joe Buck will make you pine for the simple days of FrankTV ads on TBS every ten seconds.
Speaking of despicable, if you know anything about Phillies starter Brett Myers’ past, then you probably both shuddered and laughed at the same time (which is a odd sensation, let me tell you) upon reading Buster Olney’s piece today about how the Phillies ought to pitch to Manny:

And some scouts wonder if Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who knows Ramirez well from their days in Cleveland, will look to apply some Kryptonite: inside fastballs. As in, fastballs near his chin. “You have to rough him up, make him uncomfortable, and Charlie will know this,” said one scout. “You have to pound him up and in. But I wonder if [Cole] Hamels will do it; I know Brett Myers will be willing to do it.”

I have absolutely no doubt that Brett Myers would be willing to “rough him up”, “make him uncomfortable”, and “pound him up and in.” None at all.
On to the NLCS pitching matchups!

Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Hiroki Kuroda (9-10, 3.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Greg Maddux (8-13, 4.22 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Joe Blanton (4-0, 4.20 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
At first glance, this is a lot closer than I thought it’d be, and that’s because both of these groups are very good. Neither team has an elite-level ace along the lines of Johan Santana or CC Sabathia, but each team has a young pitcher that’s not all that far away from joining that club in Billingsley and Hamels. The Dodgers have a pretty nice edge in starters ERA (3.87 to 4.23), but if we keep telling people that the Dodgers offense that was so mediocre for four months is a different beast now that Manny’s replaced Pierre, etc., then you also have to take into consideration that 49 Phillies starts went to Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton, both of whom had ERA’s north of 5.49 and neither of whom are going to be in this series.
So let’s look at these rotations over the last month of the season, since that’s a more accurate representation of what we’ll see in this series – and thanks to the always fantastic Baseball-Reference for giving me this stat that I didn’t think I’d be able to find. Dodger and Phillie starters pitched nearly an identical amount of innings over that time (142.2 for LA, 143.2 for PHI), and the Dodger starters were without question superior – a 3.03 ERA to Philly’s 4.51.
The Phillies have a good rotation, and it won’t be easy for the Dodgers… but it just can’t compare to how good the top 3 for the Blue have been lately.
Advantage: Dodgers 
R Takashi Saito (4-4, 2.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 18/22 saves)
R Jonathan Broxton (3-5, 3.13 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 14/22 saves)
L Joe Beimel (5-1, 2.02 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
R Chan Ho Park (4-4, 3.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
R Cory Wade (2-1, 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP)
L Hong-Chih Kuo (5-3, 2.14 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)
L Clayton Kershaw (5-5, 4.26 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
R Brad Lidge (2-0, 1.95 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 41/41 saves)
L J.C. Romero (4-4, 2.75 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
R Ryan Madson (4-2, 3.05 WHIP, 1.23 WHIP)
R Chad Durbin (5-4, 2.87 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
R Clay Condrey (3-4, 3.26 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)
L Scott Eyre (3-0, 0.77 ERA, 1.88 WHIP)
L J.A. Happ (4-1, 1.33 ERA, 1.69 ERA)
Once again, an incredibly tight matchup, seeing as how the Phillies (3.19) and Dodgers (3.33) finished first and second in the NL in reliever’s ERA, and the Phillies (.703) were bested only by the Dodgers (.677) in reliever’s OPS allowed. Basically, these are the two best bullpens in the National League, and there’s no argument to be made about that. Using the September stats like we did for the starters doesn’t really help, because they were both effective (3.26 for PHI, 3.38 for LA).
So what I think might swing this towards the Phillies is the fact that the Dodgers have more question marks. I’ve included Hong-Chih Kuo because it sounds like he’ll make the roster, but even if he does you never know how his health will hold up. Chan Ho Park was awful over the last month of the season (6.52 ERA, including 7 ER in his last 2 IP), and Takashi Saito still hasn’t proven himself coming back from injury. He was horrible in his one outing in the NLDS, getting zero outs, and while Broxton looked great against the Cubs, he’s not the equal of Brad Lidge, who was untouchable this year. If we had the Saito of last year, and if I was more confident about the health of Kuo (who really can be a game-changer against the big lefties, as we’ve discussed previously), things would be different.
Advantage: Phillies, only due to Dodger question marks
Prediction: I’m glad I did this breakdown, because I really had no idea how evenly matched these two teams can be. The Dodgers aren’t as far behind the Phillies on offense as you’d think, but the Phillies are one of the few teams that can negate the big bullpen advantage the Dodgers have against most teams. The home team won all eight games this season, which gives Philly an edge, but the four the Dodgers dropped were part of their worst stretch of the season in which they couldn’t have beaten the actual kids who made up the Bad News Bears, much less an MLB team. I really think we’re going to see a long, tightly played series, but in the end… Dodgers in seven.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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