Thank God we are back to the 25 man roster and real baseball begins again after taking the month of Sept off.
Mike Scoscia Tragic Illness breaks down the positional matchups and pretty much nails it. Hard to believe coming into the season that Sota/Edmunds would get the nod over Martin/Kemp but they deserve it. However I think Martin will step up and show us the Martin we expected to see all year instead of only for two months.
How about that 1012 - 1012 career win/loss record between the two clubs. I've heard that is no big deal but it seemed amazing to me when I read it. The Cubs can hit but can they hit enough against the likes of Lowe/Chad/Kuroda? A week from now we will know the answer.
Game 1: October 1st on TBS 3:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
Derek Lowe vs. Ryan Dempster
The Cubs are throwing their most consistent starter at us in game one thus making sure he will get two starts at Wrigley if the series goes 5 games. Dempster is not however the Cubs best pitcher as that honor belongs to Rich Harden. Dempster does have a sterling ERA+ of 152 as he had his career season at age 31. The starter turned closer turned starter shocked the analyst world with his exemplary season. The expectation was that he would eventually come down to earth after only posting a K/9 of 5.4 in April with an expected ERA of 4.66 but as the season wore on his peripherals got stronger. When the final bell tolled he had put together an excellent season. His dominance went from 5.4 in April to 8.1 in Sept and even hit some high points of 9.9 in August. This is a good pitcher but he's not a sub 3.00 pitcher. He's had some good luck with his BABIP and his expected ERA is 3.80 almost a full point higher then the 2.96 he posted. Dempster has just about zero experience in the postseason throwing one inning in the playoffs last season. At home where he will be pitching at least once and possibly twice he is a bit better with a 2.86 ERA. I like the fact he's hit 7 batters at home but zero on the road.
The Dodgers are countering with D Lowe. D Lowe is probably one of the greatest pitching free agents deals in history, as he was just as good if not better in the last year of his four year deal as he was during the first year. In 2008 he posted another sterling year and while he is not the Dodger Ace he is the hottest pitcher at the moment with his 0.59 ERA in Sept. Before we get giddy over that ERA remember he has been not just lucky, but extremely lucky in Sept. His expected ERA based upon his BABIP (.20) is really 3.33. He is still an extreme ground ball pitcher and was helped in Sept by having DeWitt at 2nd instead of Kent. Headed into the playoffs he could either have a keystone of Furcal/DeWitt, Furcal/Kent, Berroa/DeWitt, or even God forbid Berroa/Kent. I would hope that Torre goes with Furcal/DeWitt with Lowe on the mound. What Lowe bring is his long experience in the post season but it didn't help much against the Mets in 2006. I'd like to point to his 2004 postseason heroics as a reason to predict success but the fact is, that was 4 years ago and probably has little relevance now.
The problem with facing the Cubs is that they don't have the soft underbelly in the bullpen that the other playoff teams have. The Dodgers will need to score some runs against Dempster to win this game as they can' t count on destroying the middle relief of the Cubs. They may score on the likes of Samardzija, Marmol, Wuertz, and Wood but the runs will be hard fought. The same is true for the Cubs. Even though the Dodgers have lost Kuo they have gained back Saito. Not quite a wash given how dominant Kuo was but a pen of Wade/Beimel/Broxton/Saito is alot better then what the Cubs have been facing in the Central this year. They may not have heard of Corey Wade but he has been every bit as effective as Carlos Marmol. On the other hand I don't know how Beimel pitches so well. He's not very good but he gets the job done. Hopefully his luck will hold over the postseason.
Prediction - Dodger win game one as Lowe/Dempster keep the score low but the Dodgers score the winning off of Samardzija and Broxton/Saito shut them down in the 8th/9th. Final Score 3 - 2.
Game 2: October 2nd on TBS 6:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
(Chad Billingsley vs. Carlos Zambrano)
Game 3: October 4th on TBS 7:00 p.m.
Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers
(Rich Harden vs. Hiroki Kuroda)