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Monday, October 10, 2011

NLDS Review: Cardinals score fewer runs than the Phillies

For the second straight year, the Phillies outscored the team that eliminated them from the playoffs.

GAME 1

Predicted score: Phillies 5, Cardinals 1
Actual score: Phillies 11, Cardinals 6

This was the only game I got right.


GAME 2

Predicted score: Phillies 3, Cardinals 0
Actual score: Cardinals 5, Phillies 4

This is definitely the worst loss of the series, and I’m putting the blame on Cliff Lee and Shane Victorino. Victorino failed to catch a flyball after taking a poor route. He still should have caught the ball even with his initial mistake. This is the second consecutive season where a Phillies outfielder dropped a flyball on the warning track in the most crucial loss of the series (Game 1 2010 NLCS).

Lee ran into his share of bad luck with BABIP, and the Lee defenders point to his high K/BB ratio (4.50) to illustrate Lee did not pitch very poorly. His strikeouts-per-batters-faced percentage was 29% for this game, higher than his season rate of 25.8%. However, the only non-BABIP stat that killed him was his walk-rate of 6.5% of the batters he faced, up 41% from his season rate. Only one of the batters he walked ended up scoring, but it was a leadoff walk to Lance Berkman that started the Cardinals’ 3-run rally to cut the Phils’ lead to one run.

The reason I wanted to face the Cardinals in round 1 is because I assumed game 1 would be an automatic victory with Halladay against Lohse, and because I figured the Phils would have a significant advantage in game 2 – it was Lee vs. either Carpenter on short rest for the first time ever, or Lee vs. Garcia on the road (his home/road splits are drastic).

The pitching advantage was evident in the first two innings, but Lee preceded the BABIP-mess with two walks in the first four innings. Avoiding the walks (the first one set up the Berkman walk, which started the worst inning of the game) may have eliminated the BABIP-luck in the first place.


GAME 3

Predicted score: Cardinals 3, Phillies 1
Actual score: Phillies 3, Cardinals 2

Had La Russa simply pitched to Carlos Ruiz in the 7th inning, the Phillies may have lost this series in four games. Here’s what I said before the series started about game three:

“If you're going to make any bet in this series, the under in this game is probably your best choice.”

The o/u was 7 runs.


GAME 4

Predicted score: Phillies 7, Cardinals 2
Actual score: Cardinals 5, Phillies 3

This was a frustrating game. It’s incredible to me that Ryan Howard took a first-pitch fastball in the first inning directly down the middle for a strike. The score was already 2-0, and Jackson had just thrown a first-pitch breaking ball to Pence which got lined into centerfield for a base-hit. For someone who swings at 3-0 sliders on a routine basis, the fact that Howard finally showed plate discipline in the one situation that called for the opposite was astounding. He paid for it by striking out looking (on a pitch that was outside), and the Phils’ first inning rally was ended on Pence’s caught-stealing (on a tag that was definitely late). If the umpires get either of those two calls correct, or Howard swings at the first pitch, I’d be writing the NLCS Game 1 post right now.


GAME 5

Predicted score: Phillies 3, Cardinals 2
Actual score: Cardinals 1, Phillies 0

“I think Halladay will defeat Carpenter, 3-2, but if the Cards win one of the first two games (which is a distinct possibility), don't expect a series victory.”


Something I forgot to mention in the NLCS Game 5 post: Why on Earth did Manuel have the infield back after Furcal’s lead-off triple? I was already envisioning a 1-0 loss at this point, except I thought Schumaker was going to hit a weak groundball for the cheap RBI. Halladay should have thrown a changeup to Schumaker after the curveball he fouled off his own foot. Instead, Halladay threw another curveball (not sure why, because it couldn’t have been better than the last curve, which didn’t result in a K anyway) and it was lined into right field. A changeup would have resulted in a groundout-RBI, which would have caused my brain to explode, or a K, which may have caused a Phillies win (perhaps in 20 innings, though).



Look at it this way: if Carpenter pitched lights-out in game 2 and pitched only slightly-above-average in game 5, the Phils would be playing the Brewers tonight. Instead, he pitched awful in game 2 and lights-out in game 5. The Phillies are eliminated because of variance, pure and simple. Oh, and because they had the inferior manager.

I don't think I'll write about the Phillies for a while. Raul Ibanez's contract is up, which is awesome. The Eagles are 1-4 despite a point differential better than five teams with better records (Tampa Bay has a -38 point diffrential with a winning record), which is Andy Reid's M.O.; I think the NFL has the worst officials in sports, so that will probably be the main content on this blog for the near future. For example, the Buffalo clock operator, the head referee, and the replay official should all be publicly humiliated for allowing the final second to run off the clock in the first half after the pass fell incomplete.

Thanks for reading this season; we'll be back for 2012.

6 comments:

hk said...

That's a gutsy prediction for the Eagles, but even if they make the playoffs, they look to be inferior to at least a few teams in the NFC. From my perspective, just getting into the playoffs followed by quickly getting booted out of them would be a negative if the run to the post-season leads the FO to keep Reid around for another year.

Robby Bonfire said...

Andy could help his cause by his taking Castillo's place, right now. Castillo must be replaced, immediately, or this team will win about five games.

Got to like the unders, where 11 wins are the total. I actually had them winning 13 of 16, going in. Just a bit off the mark, there.

hk said...

Robby,

Don't hold your breath waiting for Andy to admit a mistake and dump Castillo...at least not publicly. He may make Washburn the de facto Defensive Coordinator and make Castillo the Defensive Line Coach, but we the fans won't know about it.

Andy Musser said...

The Giants schedule is lethal, with games remaining against Green Bay and at New Orleans; I think if the Eagles win at Washington (I do not expect that), they will end up with a better record than Washington at the end of the season. That only leaves Dallas, who has a pretty tough schedule ahead as well.

I believe Reid is still undefeated after bye weeks, so if they win Sunday, they may very well be 2-1 in the East with a 3-4 record, with their only loss against the team with the deadliest schedule.

Robby Bonfire said...

All well and good, but the D is going to have to move up from the high school level to at least community college level football.

Andy Musser said...

The defense was historically bad last year, yet they managed to win a "better" division.

I realize the defense is terrible, which is why I don't think they beat Washington. But if they somehow manage to do so, they have a 3-week span (this week included, since we're assuming a win Sunday) to improve the defense before a stretch of 3-straight home games.

I'd probably say 7-9 for their record if you put a gun to my head, but that's only a couple bounces away from 9-7, which just might be enough to win the East.