Charlie Manuel frequently makes poor strategic decisions. The 11-million dollar scoreboard in left field would probably do a similar job. We guarantee a post analyzing Manuel's decisions for every Phillies game. Please click on our aliases below to email us.

Blog Archive

95% Phillies, 4% Eagles/Flyers/Sixers/Big Five, 1% Nonsense .... Contact us: Scott Graham ~ Andy Musser

Monday, September 29, 2008

NLDS Breakdown: Brewers no walk in the park

Game 1 of the Brewers-Phillies series begins Wednesday afternoon at 3pm. Cole Hamels will face 22-year-old righty Yovani Gallardo, who has struck out 121 batters in only 134 career innings - a fantastic ratio.

A look at Gallardo's career splits reveals that he is very tough against right-handers: RHB have only a .283 OBP against him. However, lefties reach base against Gallardo at a .345 clip. The Phils should have 5 lefties in their lineup on Wednesday: Rollins, Utley, Howard, Dobbs, and Victorino. Lefties have a very high .327 BABIP (BA on balls in play: SOs and HRs are excluded) against Gallardo, but Gallardo counters with his high strikeout rate. As a result, lefties who don't strike out much should see some success against Gallardo. Since Rollins and Victorino have considerably lower strikeout rates than Dobbs, Howard, and Utley, look for the two speedsters to knock a couple hits. If Rollins and Victorino struggle, do not be shocked at a slow start for the Phils offense.

Hamels, unlike Gallardo, fares better against opposite-handed hitters. Lefties have a considerably higher SLG% and OBP against Hamels than righties do. Since the Brewers lineup is heavily right-handed, Hamels should fare well against Milwaukee. In addition, Hamels will be pitching on 7 days rest. Cole seems a bit sensitive about his days off - so a couple extra days will help not only his arm, but his head as well. Look for Hamels to pitch well Wednesday.

Hamels vs. Gallardo is not as much of a landslide as it seems. Gallardo's minor league numbers are fantastic - he's no Kyle Kendrick. These are two young strikeout-pitchers, and I would not be surprised to see Gallardo shut down this Phils lineup, given his K-ratio. However, with a proven ace on the mound facing a guy who underwent knee surgery earlier this year, the Phillies must win this game. The relative health of the pitchers, in addition to the Phils' superior bullpen, leads me to pick the Phils in game one: Phils 5, Brewers 2.

Game 2 will be a different story. C.C. Sabathia will face Brett Myers on Thursday at 6pm. Yes, this pitching matchup certainly favors Milwaukee, but Myers will be facing a heavily right-handed lineup, and Sabathia will be making his fourth consecutive start on 3-days rest. He has yet to show signs of slowing down, but at some point, he has to. Right? But Sabathia is more than capable of destroying this lineup. He kills lefties, so the righties will need to step up. Jayson Werth, who is having a fabulous year, will need to have a big game along with Pat Burrell in order for the Phils to have a chance. Rollins and Victorino have both fared slightly better from the left side this year, so that's a slight advantage to Sabathia. Pedro Feliz will start at third, and Coste may get a start behind the plate to face the powerful lefty. The Phils can beat Sabathia, but I think he will shut down Utley and Howard, while Myers (who fares better against LHB than RHB) may struggle against the Milwaukee lineup. Yes, he had a good stretch, but Myers has pitched poorly as of late and he still owns a pedestrian 1.37 WHIP on the season. Brewers take game two, 5-1.

Game 3 will be the first postseason game in Wisconsin in almost 3 decades. Jamie Moyer will start for the Phils, likely against Dave Bush or Jeff Suppan. Whoever doesn't pitch game 3 will likely pitch game 4, against either Joe Blanton or a short-rested Hamels. Expect Blanton to pitch game 4. I'm going to pick the Brewers to beat the lefty Moyer in a tight one: 6-4. Blanton will pitch well against the right-handed lineup and help the Phils win game four: 8-3.

That sets up Cole Hamels against C.C. Sabathia on Tuesday night in South Philly. Sabathia is better than Hamels. Sabathia can throw more pitches than Hamels. C.C. will pitch two games this series, and he has no problem throwing 130 pitches. As a result, the Brewers will be able to mask their biggest weakness - their bullpen - for at least 40% of the series. Game five goes to Milwaukee, 3-1.

There was no mention of Charlie Manuel in this post, because, statistically, you can't directly account for him. Expect him to blow at least one of these games. He loves to let J.C. Romero face righties, and the Brewers' lineup is chock full of those. So, when Romero walks off the mound with his head down after allowing a huge hit to a righty, think of me.

I apologize for the negative outlook at this series, but I actually surprised myself by predicting the Phils to win even two games. I've watched this team all year long, and I think a 5-game series, two of which will be against Sabathia, will be a huge struggle for both the manager and the players. The biggest evidence against my prediction is that the Phillies have a much better run differential than Milwaukee on the season (+119 to +61). However, since July 8, the day Sabathia arrived in Milwaukee, the Brewers have been +51. The Phils: +42.

Brewers in five.

No comments: