The eighth inning of game four of the 2008 Major League Baseball National League Championship Series made any Dodger fan feel sour.
Hong Chih Kuo pitched to Ryan Howard in the top of the eighth, only to see Howard smack a single on a 2-0 count. Torre replaces Kuo with Cory Wade, who promptly made Pat Burrell fly out to second baseman, Angel Berroa. Shane Victorino came up to bat. He then hit a line drive home run that made all Dodger fans groan. Watching Victorino circling the bases with that smirk of his (Do I only see this?) and high-fiving his teammates irritated me.
We lost the lead
Pedro Feliz came up to bat, only to lineout to Manny. We had two outs in top of eighth. As much as I hated losing the lead, we were still tied, 5-5. Carlos Ruiz came up to bat and swung on the first pitch that was delivered to him and smacked a single to Manny. Torre saw enough and took Wade out and called Jonathan Broxton in.
Broxton battled Matt Stairs to a 3-1 count with 2 outs in the eighth with Carlos Ruiz on first. Dodger fans in Dodger Stadium cheering Broxton on. Broxton pitches his fastball right down the pipe...
Ladies and gentlemen. These are the Phillies we are facing. This is the team that ended our season last year. This is the team that won the war against us. This is the team who cheered victory in our house to get into the World Series.
We wanted a rematch, we begged for a rematch, we cried for a rematch (I did anyway). As it states in the bible:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
We got our rematch.
Here are the projected starters (Not lineup) for Game 1:
C Russel Martin
1B James Loney
3B Casey Blake
CF Matt Kemp
RF Andre Ethier
C Carlos Ruiz
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
3B Pedro Feliz
LF Raul Ibanez
CF Shane Victorino
RF Jayson Werth
You can examine a lot of things that go into the series, but I want to start with the most important; It has to be pitching.
Charlie Manuel will probably use the same strategy he used against the Rockies and use his lefty starters primarily. Hamels would pitch game one, Lee would probably pitch game two (short rest), and Happ would pitch game 3. I would not be surprised if Happ and Lee switch. Pedro or Joe Blanton would pitch game 4. Hamels has always been a thorn on the Dodgers' side, and my side as well, and the Dodgers should be prepared for him.
Don't be fooled by Hamels' high ERA number, which is sitting at 4.32. His FIP for the season has been 3.72, which is a difference of -0.61 compared to his ERA, so he's been unlucky. In his career against the Dodgers, he's been stellar. The Dodgers as a team are hitting .240/.280/.377 with an OPS of .621 against Hamels (I included the playoffs).
Here is what the Dodgers have done against Hamels (Starters in bold), I've also included their numbers against lefties this seasons. Against Hamels//Against lefties this season, they're in order with highest OPS:
Manny Ramirez - .385 .467 .692 1.159// . 270 .379 .514 .893
Matt Kemp - .412 .444 .529 .973// .362 .380 .508 .888
James Loney - .294 .333 .529 .862// .274 .368 .411 .779
Ron Belliard - .269 .296 .538 .834// .282 .363 .479 .841
Russell Martin - .188 .278 .375 .653// .275 .413 .343 .756
Casey Blake - .250 .286 .300 .586// .320 .442 .563 1.005
Juan Pierre - .250 .250 .333 .583// .320 .414 .400 .814
Andre Ethier - .188 .188 .313 .501// .194 .283 .345 .629
Mark Loretta - .250 .250 .250 .500// .279 .364 .345 .709
Orlando Hudson - .167 .167 .250 .417// .293 .361 .493 .854
Brad Ausmus - .000 .200 .000 .200// .333 .379 .426 .805
Rafael Furcal - .071 .071 .071 .142// .296 .365 .451 .815
Two of our hottest hitters, Ethier and Furcal, are hitting just 4 of 30 from Hamels, so they should continue to tear up the post-season and show that their numbers against Hamels are flawed. On the other hand, we should expect big things from Manny, Bison, and Loney. More on the other hand, Hamels is a lefty and Dodgers hitting as a whole against lefties is .276, which is eighth best in the majors. Philadelphia are hitting .248, which is fifth worst in the majors. Both team's OPS are almost equal, the Dodgers' .786 and the Phillies' .787. We have the upper hand against lefties.
We will be starting Randy "Mr. Consistent" Wolf in Game one, and Clayton Kershaw in Game two. Randy was burnt in his last outing, but he should bounce back. Wolf against lefties this season is remarkable, his splits:
AVG - .159
SLG - .200
AVG - .246
SLG - .423
His 3.96 FIP isn't much to be impressed about, but I would guess that number would go far down if it was against lefties. This would cause trouble for Utley, Howard, and Ibanez, who all have a combined 110 home runs.