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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NLDS Breakdown: Uncertain rotation, high winds, and subfreezing temperatures

Last year, before each Phillies' series, I tried to predict the winner of the series. This series is more difficult than last years' series because of the Phils' rotation questions (who will start games 3 and 4?). In addition, there are 45 mph winds in the forecast for game 1 and a low of 29 in Denver for game 3. Five-game series are random enough as it is, but with these factors, there's really no point in trying to predict the winner. But this is a pointless blog, so you're in luck.

GAME 1

Ubaldo Jimenez is the right-handed starter for the Colorado Rockies. He has struck out 198 batters in 218 innings this year, which is a better ratio than Cliff Lee's 181 Ks in 232 innings (although he pitched in the AL for over half the season). Jimenez is a groundball pitcher, which is a good sign for the Phillies, who largely fare better against groundball pitchers than any other type. Lee is a flyball pitcher, and about half of the Rockies lineup fares better against flyball pitchers, while the other half prefers groundball pitchers. As a result, the Phillies should have a slight advantage on the groundball/flyball edge.

The Phillies perform better against RHP, but the Rockies have a diverse lineup, and with the exception of Brad Hawpe, there are no true liabilities against lefties in the Colorado lineup. The Phils, similarly, have only Pedro Feliz who is pretty weak against RHP. The left/right matchups are pretty much a wash.

As a result, I have to go with the Phillies in game one. Cliff Lee has struggled recently, but he performs best on 5-days rest (which is the case). I expect Lee to throw a good game. Jimenez, however, is probably going to pitch a strong game due to his power numbers. Phils take game one, 4-3.

GAME 2

The Phillies are going to face a righthanded starter for the second consecutive day in Aaron Cook, a groundball pitcher. The Rockies, while facing a lefty for the second consecutive game, are facing a different type of pitcher than Cliff Lee. Cole Hamels is a neutral, power pitcher, while Lee is a flyball, contact pitcher. I expect the Rockies to struggle adjusting to Hamels after seeing. Due to Hamels' short outing on Saturday (47 pitches) and his full four-days rest, I think Hamels is going to pitch better than Lee.

Aaron Cook's career WHIP is above 1.40, which means the Phillies should win game two. Phils take it, 5-1.

GAME 3

I do not know who is starting game three for the Phillies in Denver. Let's say it's Joe Blanton, another neutral pitcher for the Phillies. He is going to face RHP Jason Hammel, owner of a 1.53 career WHIP. Since Hammel has been announced as the game 3 starter, I really can't justify picking against the Phils. They will be facing the third straight right-handed groundball pitcher, and Joe Blanton/J.A. Happ/Pedro Martinez have a strong edge over Hammel. The Phils win game three, 7-4.


If the Phils lose any of the above games, I think they'll take game 4 in Colorado. If it goes 5 games, I am picking the Rockies to beat Cliff Lee in game 5 (but, if Hamels pitches, I'm going with Philly). The injury to Rockies LHP Jorge de la Rosa is absolutely huge as he was not only the Rockies' best pitcher this year, but he was lefty as well. The Phillies should take advantage.

First pitch is 2:37.

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