Playoffs

Ready, steady?

I’m guessing he is.

Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44) faces righty Edinson Volquez (4-3, 4.31) this afternoon in game one of the NLDS. Both pitchers will be making the first post-season start of their career.

Volquez was suspended 50 games this season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He spent most of his suspension rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in August of 2009.

He made his first 2010 start with the Reds in mid-July and pitched well, holding the Rockies to a run over six innings while striking out nine. He was pounded in his next two starts, not making it through four innings either time, and people started to worry. He snapped out of it, though, putting together a string of three starts in which he went 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and allowed just three runs in 17 2/3 innings. The Diamondbacks pounded him for five runs over 4 2/3 innings on August 18 and the start after that he didn’t make it out of the first inning. He got just two outs as the Giants plated five runs charged to him.

Volquez had made eight starts on the year and four of them had been pretty bad. Overall, he had thrown to a 6.17 ERA and a 1.97 ratio. Opponents were hitting .300 against him and he had walked 27 in 35 innings.

The Reds said he was going to the pen, but he didn’t make an appearance in relief. Instead, they sent him to Single-A Dayton on August 31.

Volquez made two starts for Dayton, throwing to a 1.38 ERA and striking out 19 over 13 innings, and was back to start for the Reds again on September 11. He made four starts to close out the season and all four were good. He threw to a 1.95 ERA and struck out 31 in 27 2/3 innings without allowing a home run, dropping his ERA on the year from 6.17 to 4.31.

When you look at his splits for the season, he has allowed way more hits to right-handed batters and walked lefties at an enormous rate. Lefties hit just .229 against him while righties hit .273. He walked 7.0% of the righties he faced and 18.9% (25 of 132) of the left-handed batters. Lefties on-based .377 against him despite the .229 batting average.

All those walks to lefties might be good for something, cause Volquez allowed just one home run to a left-handed batter all season long (Adam Dunn in his second start of the season) and lefties slugged just .314 against him. He faced a similar number of right and left-handed batters on the season (143 righties and 132 lefties) and allowed 11 extra-base hits, including five home runs, to righties and just six extra-base hits to lefties.

Over his career, the outrageous walk rate for lefties hasn’t been present like it has in 2010. The trend of preventing big hits from left-handed batters has, though. Lefties are slugging just .371 against him for his career compared to .414 for righties. Righties have delivered an extra-base hit against him in 7.8% of their plate appearances compared to 6.1% for lefties. The extra-base hits he has allowed to righties have also gone for more bases than the ones he has allowed to lefties — 2.80 bases per extra-base hit to righties and 2.61 for lefties.

He was way better at home than on the road in 2010. He threw to a 3.23 ERA in his seven starts at home and a 6.08 ERA on his five starts on the road. That’s not a trend that has been present over his career. For his career his numbers are similar at home and on the road.

He has odd numbers for his career before and after the All-Star break with dramatically better results in the first half of the season. 5.46 ERA in 45 appearances after the break and a 2.90 ERA in 29 appearances before the break. Opponents have hit 206/318/311 against him in the first half of the season and 285/375/450 against him in the second half of the season.

Ibanez and Rollins are the only Phillies with more than five career at-bats against Volquez. Ibanez is 3-for-9 with three singles and a walk. Rollins 1-for-7 with two strikeouts. Victorino 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Howard 1-for-5 with a single and three strikeouts. Utley 1-for-5 with a single and two strikeouts.

Halladay threw 250 2/3 innings in the regular season, which is the second-highest mark for his career and the most innings he has thrown in a season over the past seven years. Even with his huge workloads, Halladay has a history of pitching well at the end of the season. This year he struggled a bit down the stretch, posting a 4.32 ERA and a 1.27 ratio over six starts before throwing a complete game shutout against the Nationals in his final start.

He faced the Reds twice this season. On June 30 he allowed four runs on 13 hits over eight innings. He took a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning, but Gomes led off with a single and Halladay stayed in the game to pitch to the lefty Bruce. Bruce homered, putting Cincy on top to stay at 4-3. Votto also homered against him in that game, connecting for a solo shot in the sixth inning.

If you want to worry about something for today’s game, I think that’s where you want to focus your energy. Votto and Bruce are the guys to fear the most this afternoon, and in Halladay’s start at the end of June they both went deep against him.

His other start against the Reds this year came on July 10. Things went a lot better for Halladay and the Phils that day. Halladay threw nine shutout innings, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out nine. The Phillies couldn’t score against Travis Wood, though, and the game went to extra-innings. The Phils won 1-0 on a walkoff single by Rollins that scored Ruiz.

Halladay was good against both lefties and righties overall this year. He was also good both at home and on the road. He excels at preventing walks, issuing just 30 for the season over 250 2/3 innings. His walk rate in 2010 was the best for his career. He walked batters at very similar rates in 2005 and 2003, but his mark this season is a tiny bit better, at least by walks per nine innings pitched. In 2010, he walked 30 batters in 250 2/3 innings (1.077 per nine innings). In 2003, when he won the AL Cy Young, he walked 32 over 266 innings (1.083 per nine). By percentage of batters faced who walked, he was a tiny bit better in 2003 (2.99% in ’03 and 3.02% in ’10).

Either way, he doesn’t walk anyone and it helps make him quite effective.

A lot of the Reds have seen him often. Votto and Bruce are both 3-for-11 against him for their career and each have a double and a home run. Orlando Cabrera is the guy who has seen him the most. Cabrera has hit 271/286/375 against him with a home run over 48 at-bats. Ramon Hernandez has gone 13-for-37 (.351) against him. Gomes 9-for-32 (.281) with three extra-base hits including a home run. Stubbs 1-for-6, Rolen 1-for-5. Phillips 4-for-14 with two doubles.

The Phils roster for the NLDS is all set. They carry 15 hitters and ten pitchers, putting Brown and Dobbs on the roster and leaving Kendrick, Herndon and Baez off.

Hitters (15): Ruiz, Schneider, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Polanco, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Sweeney, Gload, Francisco, Brown, Dobbs, Valdez

Pitchers (10): Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels, Blanton, Lidge, Madson, Romero, Bastardo, Durbin, Contreras.

No final word on the roster for the Reds, yet. Here’s a guess from last night. It looks like Cincinnati will have four lefties available out of the pen. Arthur Rhodes and Aroldis Chapman are scary, Travis Wood (who didn’t appear in relief all season) and Bill Bray a little less so.

There’s still a playoffs Start Log, which you can view here.

Update: Placido Polanco is out of the lineup for game one of the NLDS with a stiff back. Valdez will play third and hit eighth. Rollins will lead off with Victorino hitting second. Dobbs on the bench with the righty Volquez on the mound.


Who are these %$#@! guys?

I don’t think we’re going to know for sure who’s on the NLDS roster for the Reds until Wednesday, but I’m going to guess the offensively they will have their eight regulars plus Hanigan, Janish, Heisey, Cairo, Francisco and Nix.

If that guess is right, they would have ten right-handed hitters for the series with the Phils. Regulars Ramon Hernandez, Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Scott Rolen, Jonny Gomes and Drew Stubbs and reserves Ryan Hanigan, Paul Janish, Chris Heisey and Miguel Cairo.

Of those ten righties, five have been pretty good against right-handed pitching this season:


PA

BA OBP SLG OPS
Chris Heisey 126 0.321 0.389 0.536 0.925
Scott Rolen 359 0.295 0.343 0.517 0.860
Miguel Cairo 152 0.304 0.353 0.459 0.813
Ramon Hernandez 266 0.295 0.360 0.426 0.786
Ryan Hanigan 170 0.304 0.379 0.392 0.771

So the bad news is that’s five righties who hit right-handed pitching pretty well. The good news is that Hanigan and Hernandez can’t catch at the same time and Cairo and Heisey will likely be coming off the bench.

The other five righties have been less impressive against right-handed pitching this year:


PA BA OPB SLG OPS
Drew Stubbs 398 0.262 0.338 0.427 0.765
Brandon Phillips 496 0.268 0.336 0.405 0.741
Jonny Gomes 375 0.257 0.301 0.408 0.709
Paul Janish 153 0.237 0.311 0.356 0.667
Orlando Cabrera 388 0.240 0.275 0.326 0.601

I think we should expect to see a lot of Cabrera, Gomes, Phillips and Stubbs in the series. All four of them have had some problems with righties this season and gotten a lot of opportunities.

If the roster guess is right, there will be four lefty hitters for the Reds. Starters Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and bench players Juan Francisco and Laynce Nix. Francisco only got 55 at-bats all season and didn’t fare exceptionally well against anyone. He hit 283/340/413 in 46 at-bats against righties and went 2-for-9 against lefties.

Votto, as you probably know, hammered right-handed pitching this year. Bruce and Nix were also good, but not quite as terrifying:


PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Joey Votto 414 0.347 0.442 0.673 1.115
Jay Bruce 394 0.283 0.353 0.469 0.821
Laynce Nix 163 0.289 0.346 0.45 0.795

Here’s what those lefties did against left-handed pitching this year:


PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Jay Bruce 179 0.277 0.352 0.547 0.899
Laynce Nix 19 0.313 0.389 0.5 0.889
Joey Votto 234 0.283 0.393 0.47 0.863

If you’ve been losing sleep wondering what lefty on the Phils is going to get out Votto and Bruce, you might want to take a break. The numbers above suggest you might not need a lefty to go after Bruce. He has actually been better against left-handed pitching than right this season. He has hit for about the same average, but walked at a higher rate and delivered extra-base hits at a better rate. That’s a little curious given that in 2009 he was awful against lefties, hitting 210/313/330 against them while he blasted 20 home runs in 245 at-bats against righties.

Still, given what he’s done this year I feel okay using a righty against him. Votto is good against lefties, but has been significantly better against righties over his career.

Here’s what the 14 players, both lefties and righties, did over the last 14 days of the regular season:


PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Ryan Hanigan 16 0.571 0.625 0.714 1.339
Jay Bruce 31 0.370 0.452 0.815 1.266
Joey Votto 28 0.333 0.464 0.667 1.131
Drew Stubbs 37 0.333 0.459 0.633 1.093
Brandon Phillips 35 0.345 0.429 0.586 1.015
Chris Heisey 16 0.313 0.313 0.563 0.875
Miguel Cairo 14 0.333 0.429 0.417 0.845
Laynce Nix 9 0.286 0.444 0.286 0.730
Jonny Gomes 35 0.294 0.314 0.412 0.726
Juan Francisco 12 0.273 0.333 0.364 0.697
Ramon Hernandez 21 0.222 0.333 0.222 0.556
Paul Janish 21 0.167 0.250 0.222 0.472
Orlando Cabrera 25 0.182 0.208 0.227 0.436
Scott Rolen 26 0.160 0.192 0.160 0.352

The bad news there is that Votto and Bruce come into the series hot. Bruce is 10-for-his-last-25 with four home runs. Votto 8-for-his-last-25 with three home runs.

Stubbs was hitting 237/307/401 for the year at the end of the day on September 6. He has hit 350/442/675 over his last 95 plate appearances.

Phillips tore things up over the last two weeks, but that’s a recent development. Between September 3 and September 24 he went 12-for-83 with a double and a home run, posting a 145/220/181 line. He finished the regular season going 6-for-13.

Gomes hit .364 in May and .246 in all the other months combined. He put up a 301/320/438 line over 19 games to end the season.

Hernandez is hitting 257/341/338 over 85 plate appearances since August 23.

Cabrera and Rolen both coming into the series in a funk. Cabrera went 2-for-5 with a double to end the season, but had been 6-for-his-last-39 with a double before that (154/195/179). The difference between Rolen and Cabrera is that Cabrera is a bad offensive player playing badly while Rolen has been a great offensive player but is playing badly. Rolen was hitting 303/374/542 at the end of the day on August 17. He has gotten 144 plate appearances since in which he has hit 234/313/375.

This is no time for him to wake up.

Did you know there is a Start Log for playoff starts since 2007? There is.


Reds dawn

The Phils start their series with the Reds on Wednesday. Cincinnati comes into the playoffs with the best offense in the National League this year, having scored 790 runs in the regular season. The Phils were second in runs scored with 772.

The charts below report results for the eight Phillies regulars and the eight Cincinnati players who have seen the most time at each position this season. The eight Cincinnati players are lefties Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and righties Ramon Hernandez, Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Scott Rolen, Jonny Gomes and Drew Stubbs. Three other players for Cincy have also started at least ten games since the beginning of September but aren’t included on the list. All three of them are righties — catcher Ryan Hanigan, infielder Paul Janish and outfielder Chris Heisey.

For the 16 players (eight for the Phils and eight for the Reds), here’s the percentage of plate appearances in which they have walked and singled this season:

% BB % 1B
Joey Votto
Carlos Ruiz
Jayson Werth
Chase Utley
Raul Ibanez
Jimmy Rollins
Jay Bruce
Ryan Howard
Drew Stubbs
Scott Rolen
Ramon Hernandez
Shane Victorino
Jonny Gomes
Brandon Phillips
Placido Polanco
Orlando Cabrera
14.04%
12.70%
12.58%
12.33%
10.69%
10.15%
10.12%
9.52%
9.43%
9.31%
8.24%
8.18%
6.83%
6.70%
5.32%
5.21%
Placido Polanco
Ramon Hernandez
Carlos Ruiz
Orlando Cabrera
Brandon Phillips
Jonny Gomes
Joey Votto
Jay Bruce
Chase Utley
Shane Victorino
Raul Ibanez
Ryan Howard
Jimmy Rollins
Drew Stubbs
Scott Rolen
Jayson Werth
21.59%
19.03%
17.32%
17.32%
16.89%
15.94%
15.74%
15.71%
15.46%
15.12%
15.09%
15.00%
14.72%
14.41%
14.34%
13.65%

Votto is the king of the walks for the group, but things look good for the Phils overall — six of the bottom eight slots on the list belong to Cincinnati players. Not only that, but we’ve finally found somebody who walks less than Polanco. Polanco finds himself atop the list of the players most like to single in a particular plate appearance.

The percentage of hits that a player has that goes for singles is obviously a different number than the percentage of plate appearances in which he singles. Werth is the player in the group that has had the lowest percentage of hits go for singles. He has 164 hits on the year and only 89 of them (54.3%) were singles. Rolen and Votto are right behind him — Rolen saw just 57.5% of his hits go for singles and Votto 57.6%. Polanco is at the other end of that list. 78.8% of his hits went for singles and nobody else is real close. Hernandez (72.0%) and Orlando Cabrera (71.5%) are next.

Here’s the plate appearances that ended in a single or a walk and the percentages of plate appearances with a double or triple:

% BB or 1B % 2B or 3B
Carlos Ruiz
Joey Votto
Chase Utley
Ramon Hernandez
Placido Polanco
Jayson Werth
Jay Bruce
Raul Ibanez
Jimmy Rollins
Ryan Howard
Drew Stubbs
Scott Rolen
Brandon Phillips
Shane Victorino
Jonny Gomes
Orlando Cabrera
30.02%
29.78%
27.79%
27.27%
26.91%
26.23%
25.83%
25.79%
24.87%
24.52%
23.84%
23.65%
23.58%
23.30%
22.77%
22.53%
Jayson Werth
Scott Rolen
Carlos Ruiz
Raul Ibanez
Orlando Cabrera
Joey Votto
Shane Victorino
Brandon Phillips
Ramon Hernandez
Jay Bruce
Jimmy Rollins
Placido Polanco
Jonny Gomes
Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
Drew Stubbs
7.36%
6.89%
6.70%
6.60%
6.15%
5.86%
5.56%
5.53%
5.40%
4.89%
4.82%
4.82%
4.73%
4.52%
4.31%
4.29%

Ruiz is the most likely member of the group to get on board due to a walk or single. He walked more than Votto, and while Votto is more likely to get a hit overall (27.3% to 25.9%), Ruiz was more likely to single.

Werth’s 46 doubles leads the group and the league. Rolen was just 19th in the league in doubles with 34, but came to the plate 115 fewer times, so his rate of hitting doubles and triples isn’t too far behind Werth.

I don’t think you want to overlook Orlando Cabrera’s place on the doubles/triples list. The numbers above show he never walks and the numbers below will show he never homers, but he gets more than his share of singles and doubles despite the .263 average for the year.

Here are the rates for home runs and strikeouts:

% HR % SO
Joey Votto
Ryan Howard
Jay Bruce
Jayson Werth
Drew Stubbs
Scott Rolen
Jonny Gomes
Chase Utley
Shane Victorino
Brandon Phillips
Raul Ibanez
Jimmy Rollins
Ramon Hernandez
Carlos Ruiz
Placido Polanco
Orlando Cabrera
5.71%
5.00%
4.36%
4.14%
3.77%
3.72%
3.15%
3.13%
2.78%
2.62%
2.52%
2.03%
1.99%
1.85%
1.00%
0.74%
Drew Stubbs
Ryan Howard
Jay Bruce
Jayson Werth
Jonny Gomes
Joey Votto
Raul Ibanez
Scott Rolen
Ramon Hernandez
Carlos Ruiz
Chase Utley
Shane Victorino
Brandon Phillips
Orlando Cabrera
Jimmy Rollins
Placido Polanco
28.82%
25.32%
23.73%
22.55%
21.54%
19.29%
16.98%
15.27%
13.92%
12.47%
12.33%
12.19%
12.08%
9.87%
8.12%
7.81%

Drew Stubbs struck out a higher rate than Howard last year and it wasn’t very close. Stubbs whiffed 168 times in 583 plate appearances for the year (28.8%) while Howard struck out in 157 of 620 (25.3%).

Five of the top seven spots on the home run list belong to the Reds. Their top guy, Votto, has a better home rate than the Phillie with the best home run rate (Howard) and their second best guy (Bruce) has a better rate than the second-best guy for the Phils (Werth). The other three spots belong to Reds.

Any idea who is going to get Votto and Bruce out for the Phils? Me neither. JC Romero and Antonio Bastardo sure look like they’re the guys who are going to try. Amaro suggests the problems in Romero’s lower back that forced him from the final game in Atlanta won’t be an issue in this article. Bastardo has faced two batters in his post-season career, striking out Jason Giambi with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning of game four of the 2009 NLDS and allowing a double to Andre Ethier to start the seventh inning in game one of the ’09 NLCS.

You kind of get the feeling that Manuel remembers the double he allowed to Ethier more than the strikeout of Giambi. We will see.

The same article says that Ruiz will be okay after getting drilled by Tim Hudson yesterday.

Here’s my latest guess for the NLDS roster:

Hitters (14): Ruiz, Schneider, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Polanco, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Francisco, Valdez, Sweeney, Gload, Dobbs

Pitchers (11): Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels, Blanton, Kendrick, Lidge, Madson, Contreras, Romero, Bastardo, Durbin

Dobbs is the guy I feel least confident about. I’m going to be surprised if one of the other guys is left off. I wouldn’t be that surprised to see Baez, Brown or Herndon take the Dobbs spot.


Concerned NL teams starting to wonder if Jack the Giant Killer can field at all

Nobody scores against the Giants this month, so who is it exactly that’s pitching so well for San Francisco? Pretty much everyone.

Here’s what San Francisco pitchers have done overall for the month and their numbers at the start of September (nothing in this post includes the results from last night’s game, but the trend continued for San Francisco as Tim Lincecum and two relievers held the Snakes to a single run as the Giants won 3-1):

  G IP ERA Ratio R/IP
September 24 214.3 1.85 0.87 0.22
Before
September
133 1201.2 3.68 1.34 0.44

So coming into September, San Francisco pitchers had allowed .44 runs per innings pitched. They had given up 523 runs in 133 games or 3.93 runs per game, which is way better than the average for the league. In September they have cut that in half as the entire staff has thrown to a 1.85 ERA and an 0.87 ratio, allowing .22 runs per inning pitched and 2.0 runs per game.

Both the starters and the relievers have been better, but the relievers have improved more.

Here’s what the starters have done this month and before this month:

  G IP ERA Ratio R/IP
September 24 155.3 2.09 0.90 0.25
Before
September
133 820.7 3.79 1.30 0.45

Barry Zito hasn’t been fantastic. He’s 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.19 ratio in September. He hasn’t exactly been lit up, either. Opponents are hitting .189 against him for the month. He kinda sticks out, though, cause the other four starters have been ridiculously good. Sanchez, Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner have combined to make 19 starts for the month in which they have thrown to a 1.67 ERA and an 0.84 ratio while striking out 132 in 129 1/3 innings. Again, those numbers all don’t include Lincecum’s outing from last night when he held Arizona to a run over seven innings and struck out 11.

The relievers have been better than the starters. Here’s what the bullpen has done in a group this month compared to what they did the rest of the season:

  G IP ERA Ratio R/IP
September 24 59 1.22 0.80 0.15
Before
September
133 381 3.43 1.43 0.41

So the starters dropped their runs allowed per inning from .45 before September to .25 in September. They were allowing about 1.8 times as many runs per inning before this month. The bullpen was allowing .41 runs per inning before this month and has allowed .15 runs per inning this month. That’s about 2.73 times as many runs per inning allowed in the months before September.

There are nine pitchers who have appeared in relief for San Francisco this month. Ramon Ramirez, Sergio Romo and Dan Runzler have combined to make 23 appearances in which they’ve thrown 17 1/3 innings without being charged with a run.

The guys who have appeared the most in relief for the Giants this month are closer Brian Wilson and Santiago Casilla. They’ve combined to make 22 appearances in which they struck out 20 in 23 innings while throwing to a 1.17 ERA and an 0.83 ratio.

The other four relievers, Guillermo Mota, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and Chris Ray, haven’t been quite as dominant. They’ve still been very good, though. That group has pitcher to a 2.41 ERA and a 1.07 ratio over 18 2/3 innings in 27 appearances.

The Phillies beat the Nationals 7-1 last night. Blanton held Washington to an unearned run on three singles and three walks over seven innings. Sweeney and Mayberry both homered for the Phils and Francisco hit two, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Rollins led off and went 0-for-4, making him 1-for-7 since his return to the starting lineup.

The Phils are off today and finish the regular season this weekend in Atlanta.


I’m still not doing the Tomahawk Chop, though, I don’t care what anyone says

The Phils are going to the post-season and will have home field advantage throughout. Beyond that, we know that the Reds have won their division and are in while the Braves, Giants and Padres battle for the two remaining NL spots. As of this morning the Giants lead the Padres by two games in the West and the Braves are a game and a half ahead of San Diego for the Wild Card.

So who should we be rooting for to come out on top?

Here’s how many runs per game the five teams have scored this season compared to the average for the league (not including last night):

Team R/G NL AVG R/G  
CIN 4.90 4.36 1.124
PHI 4.71 4.36 1.080
ATL 4.57 4.36 1.048
SF 4.34 4.36 0.995
SD 4.17 4.36 0.956

So, for example, the Reds have scored 4.90 runs per game this season. The average for NL teams is 4.36 runs per game. 4.90 over 4.36 is 1.124, which also means that the Reds have scored about 112.4% of the runs per game that the average NL team has scored this season.

Of the five teams, the Reds, Phils and Braves have all been better than average at scoring runs. The Giants and Padres have been worse than the average NL teams at scoring runs.

The average NL team has allowed 4.38 runs per game. Here’s how the numbers at preventing runs compare for the five teams (again, does not include last night):

Team RA/G NL AVG
RA/G
 
SD 3.63 4.38 0.829
SF 3.65 4.38 0.833
ATL 3.83 4.38 0.874
PHI 3.97 4.38 0.906
CIN 4.29 4.38 0.979

The chart is turned upside down for these numbers. The Padres have been the best of the five teams at preventing runs for the season, allowing about 82.9% of the runs per game that the average team in the NL has allowed.

If you combine the rates at which they have scored and prevented runs compared to the rest of the league, here’s how the results look:

Team Scoring
Runs
Preventing
Runs
Total
PHI 0.080 0.094 0.1739
ATL 0.048 0.126 0.1737
SF -0.005 0.167 0.1621
CIN 0.124 0.021 0.1444
SD -0.044 0.171 0.1277

Two big things I think you can take from that. The first is how slim the margin is between the Braves and the Phils at the top of the list. The second is that the Padres are just a lot worse than the other four teams on the list. One of the teams you should be rooting for to get into the playoffs is the Padres.

Who’s the other, though? From the numbers above it sure looks like we should all be Giants fans. But surely the injury-ravaged Braves aren’t the same team now that they’ve lost Chipper and Medlen and Prado, right?

Here’s what the five teams have done in September:

Team Record RS/G RA/G
PHI 20-6 5.19 3.58
ATL 12-14 3.35 3.81
SF 16-8 3.75 1.85
CIN 11-14 4.20 4.04
SD 11-15 3.00 4.19
       
Total for
Group
70-57 3.898 3.543

A couple of things you should take from that. The first is that the Phillies are playing very well, especially offensively. The Reds may have been better than the Phils at scoring runs overall for the season, but since the start of September the Phillies have scored almost a run per game more than Cincinnati has scored.

The other thing that you don’t want to miss is that the Giants are doing an amazing job at preventing runs. They’ve allowed 48 runs in their past 24 games and the Rockies beat them 10-9 on Saturday. So in the other 23 games they have allowed 38 runs, or 1.65 runs per game.

Here’s how the teams stack up if you compare the number of runs each team has scored and allowed this month to the other teams in the group (not the whole league) and then combine the numbers:

Team Scored Allowed Total
SF -0.04 0.48 0.44
PHI 0.33 -0.01 0.32
CIN 0.08 -0.14 -0.06
ATL -0.14 -0.08 -0.22
SD -0.23 -0.18 -0.41

The Giants pitching has been more dominant than the Phillies hitting, so San Francisco comes out on top on that list. I think there are two important things to come to terms with about the way the Giants have been pitching of late. The first is that if San Francisco allows 1.85 runs per game the rest of the way they’re going to win the World Series. There won’t be much for anyone else to do but watch. The second, though, is that that isn’t going to happen. In August, for example, the Giants allowed about 4.93 runs per game.

It does leave us with the question of who we’d like to see joining the Phils, Reds and Padres in the playoffs. If the Braves were at full strength I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you would prefer them to be watching the post-season. The Braves aren’t at full strength, though, and they haven’t been for a long time. The combination of the injuries to Atlanta and the remarkable job San Francisco has done preventing runs of late makes it very close.

On the plus side, it doesn’t matter a whole lot who you’re hoping for — the playoff teams from the NL look likely to be the Phils, Reds, Braves and Giants.

The Nats beat the Phils 2-1 last night. Oswalt pitched well, allowing an unearned run over five innings. Nyjer Morgan walked in the bottom of the first, stole second, took third with the help of a Rollins error and scored on an Adam Dunn ground out to put Washington up 1-0. Ibanez tied the game at 1-1 with a homer off of Jason Marquis in the fourth. Dunn hit a long walkoff home run off of Contreras with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth.

Rollins returned to the starting lineup and went 1-for-3 with a solid single out of the leadoff spot. He also made a throwing error in the first. Bastardo and Baez both pitched a scoreless inning in relief, with Bastardo striking out all three men he faced in the bottom of the eighth in a tie game.


Over and out

The transmission from Citizens Bank Park was loud and clear and now it’s ended. The Phillies have made a compelling case that they are the class of the National League and are headed back to the World Series after topping the Dodgers 10-4 in game five of the NLCS.

Vicente Padilla simply didn’t bring his game two magic to game five and it didn’t take long to tell. He walked Utley in the first and then pitched around the big lefty Howard behind him. It brought Werth to the plate and Werth set the tone for the night, blasting a three-run homer out to right. Werth and Victorino would be the driving force for the Phils’ offense in the game. The pair combined to go 5-for-8 with three home runs and seven RBI last night while the other six regulars for the Phils went 3-for-20.

Charlie Manuel deserves his share of the credit for the win as well. Manuel managed like a man who thought he had a chance to go to the World Series, pulling his starting pitcher with one out in the fifth and a three-run lead. It meant he was going to have to walk a tightrope with his shaky pen the rest of the way. He did. LA put the tying run on deck in the bottom of the eighth, but the bullpen came through for Manuel and the Phils.

Andre Ethier put LA up 1-0 with a homer off of Hamels in the first. Werth put the Phils up 3-1 with his first homer of the day in the bottom of the inning. James Loney hit yet another homer off of Hamels in the second. 3-2. A homer from Feliz in the bottom of the second made it 4-2. An Ibanez double got the Phillies rolling in the fourth and they added two more to make it 6-2. A pinch-hit homer from Orlando Hudson off of Hamels to start the fifth made it 6-3 and Manuel went to his pen. Victorino hit a two-run homer off of Clayton Kershaw in the sixth. 8-3. Werth hit a solo shot off of Hong-Chih Kuo in the seventh. 9-3. The Dodgers made rallied in the eighth, putting their first four men on base to make it 9-4 with nobody out and the bases loaded. Madson snapped back to life just in time, though, getting the next three batters and leaving the runners stranded. A single by Rollins that was followed by a double by Victorino helped the Phils add another run in the bottom of the eighth and end the scoring at 10-4.

The Phillies have won the NLCS, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one in the best-of-seven NLCS. They will play either the Yankees or the Angels in the World Series, which starts on Wednesday.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and didn’t pitch well. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and three home runs. He struck out three. Hamels simply doesn’t have it these days, and it’s hard not to wonder what the Phils can do about that for the World Series. Over his last six starts he’s allowed 40 hits in 31 1/3 innings, throwing to a 6.89 ERA with a 1.50 ratio. He’s allowed six home runs in 14 2/3 innings in three starts this post-season.

The Dodger lineup facing Hamels went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Belliard (2B/R) (3) Ethier (RF/L) (4) Ramirez (LF/R) (5) Kemp (CF/R) (6) Loney (1B/L) (7) Martin (C/R) (8) Blake (3B/R That’s the same lineup they used the last time the Phillies started a lefty, which was Lee in game three, except that Blake and Martin are switched in the 7-8 spots at the bottom of the lineup. Blake was a miserable 2-for-15 in the series coming into the game, but I still think he should hit higher against a lefty. He was fifth in the order when Hamels started game one.

The Dodgers had six players on the bench to start the game, lefties Jim Thome and Juan Pierre, righties Mark Loretta, Juan Castro and Brad Ausmus and switch-hitter Orlando Hudson.

Furcal led off the game and got ahead 3-0 on a couple of close pitches, but struck out swinging 3-2 for the first out. Belliard flew to right on a 2-1 pitch. Hamels got ahead of Ethier 1-2, but couldn’t put him away. Ethier fouled off four pitches in a row and Ruiz came out to the mound. Whatever they talked about didn’t work, cause Ethier hit Hamels’ next pitch out to right to put LA up 1-0. Manny followed and singled to right on the first pitch of his at-bat. Kemp struck out looking 1-2 to leave him stranded.

Tiny strike zone in the first for Hamels. He threw 23 pitches in the inning. Another big hit against him for a lefty. Loney homered off of him in the opener.

He started the second up 3-1. Loney led off and hit a 1-2 pitch way out to right, cutting the lead to 3-2. Martin grounded to short on a 3-1 pitch. Blake grounded to third 0-2. Padilla flew softly to left 1-2 to set LA down.

Eighteen pitches in the inning had Hamels at 41 for the game. Again with the lefties. Third home run off of Hamels this year for Loney.

Phils were up 4-2 when Hamels started the third. Furcal got behind 0-2 and grounded to second. Belliard popped to Rollins 1-1 for the second out. Ethier struck out swinging 3-2 to set LA down.

Not a single homer off of Hamels in that inning. Thirteen pitches had him at 54.

Manny grounded to short 1-2 for the first out of the fourth. Kemp was next and he grounded to short too. Loney drew a two-out walk, but Martin popped to second to leave him stranded.

The walk to Loney broke a string of eight in a row set down by Hamels. Hamels had thrown 76 pitches after throwing 22 in the inning.

He started the fifth with a 6-2 lead after a bottom of the fourth that took about half an hour. Blake led off and popped to Utley 3-2 for the first out. The switch-hitter Hudson hit for pitcher George Sherrill and hit a long home run down the left field line. 6-3. Belliard was next and he lined a double to left, which was enough to chase Hamels. Happ came in to pitch to Belliard and walked him on a 3-2 pitch that was nowhere near the plate. Happ did get the lefty Ethier, though. Ethier flew to left on the first pitch of his at-bat for the second out. It brought up Manny with two outs and two on and Manuel called on Durbin to pitch to him. Durbin got ahead of Manny 0-2. Ramirez tried to check his swing 2-2, but hit a dribbler down the third base line. He was slow getting out of the box, giving Durbin plenty of time to throw him out and leave the runners stranded.

Third home run in the game allowed by Hamels. Hudson isn’t even left-handed. I was very surprised to see Happ gone after facing just two hitters — I was assuming he was in for a while after the early exit by Hamels. Great job by Durbin to get Manny in a big spot. It did leave me wondering what the plan was for the rest of the game. I was guessing it was Park-Madson-Lidge in the seventh, eighth and ninth, but had little clue what Manuel was thinking for the top of the sixth and had no idea what might be Plan B if Park, Madson or Lidge struggled. Not sure Manuel did, either.

Turns out he was thinking Durbin for the sixth and Durbin was fantastic. Kemp struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. The lefty Loney grounded to short 0-1 for the second. Martin swung at the first pitch and grounded back to the mound to set LA down.

Fantastic work from Durbin who has had an outstanding post-season. He made four appearances in the series, throwing three innings without allowing a hit or a walk.

Speaking of fantastic, Park pitched the seventh with an 8-3 lead. He struck Blake out looking 2-2. Juan Pierre hit for the pitcher Clayton Kershaw and he grounded to first 0-2 for the second out. Furcal flew to center 0-2 to set LA down.

Eleven pitches in the seventh for Park after Durbin threw just eight in the sixth.

Park came back to start the eighth with a 9-3 lead. Things got interesting quickly, as Belliard and Ethier started the inning with back-to-back singles that put men on first and third with nobody out for Ramirez. Madson came in to pitch to Ramirez and walked him on five pitches to load the bases. Kemp lined an 0-1 pitch into center that dropped in front of Victorino for a single and moved everyone up a base, brought in Belliard and made the score 9-4 with the bases still loaded and nobody out. Dubee came out to talk to Madson. Don’t know what he said, but whatever it was, things got better quick. Loney swung at the first pitch and fouled out to Feliz. Martin struck out swinging 2-2. Madson got ahead of Blake 1-2 and delivered what looked for sure like strike three. Madson walked off the mound towards the dugout, but didn’t get the call. Ruiz slammed his glove on the plate, but the at-bat continued. Blake grounded to second 2-2 to leave the runners stranded.

Park ends the series having thrown to an 8.10 ERA, charged with three runs in 3 1/3 innings. He pitched way better than that, though. He looked great in the first inning he pitched. Less great in game two pitching on back-to-back days and less great last night trying to come back for a second inning.

Madson allowed six hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings in the series. That’s a 2.70 ratio, which isn’t what you’re looking for.

Lidge started the ninth with a 10-4 lead. Mark Loretta hit for the pitcher Ronald Belisario and struck out swinging 2-2. Furcal fouled out to Ruiz on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Belliard hit a soft fly ball to center field on a 2-1 pitch. Victorino took it and the Phils had won the National League and were headed to the World Series.

Three appearances for Lidge in the series in which he threw 2 2/3 shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three.

Still wonder what Manuel would have done if Park, Madson or Lidge hadn’t been able to get the job done in their inning. I assume Eyre was next in line, but things would have gotten pretty dicey after that.

Lefties Loney and Ethier were the two Dodgers with an OPS of .800 or better in the series. Loney was a monster, going 6-for-17 with two home runs to post a 353/421/706 line. Ethier was 5-for-19 with a double and a home run (263/333/474). Manny was 5-for-19 with a home run and two RBI. Kemp hit .250 and struck out eight times in 20 at-bats. Furcal, Blake and Martin combined to go 9-for-56 (.160).

Very good pitching for the Phils in the series. They held LA to 16 runs over five games. Overall the Phillies threw 44 innings with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.14 ratio.

Thanks to brilliant starts from Pedro and Lee in games two and three, the numbers for the starting rotation were very good. The starters threw 30 2/3 innings in the set, pitching to a 2.93 ERA and an 0.91 ratio.

Martinez and Lee were amazing in the middle of the series, combing to throw 15 shutout innings in games two and three in which they allowed five hits and did not walk a batter. Blanton allowed four runs in six innings in game four. Hamels started the other two games and didn’t pitch well in either. Over the two starts he threw 9 2/3 innings with a 6.52 ERA and a 1.55 ratio. The Phillies offense scored 18 runs in the two games he started and 17 in the three that he did not.

The starters threw 30 2/3 of the 44 innings the team pitched in the series. That’s 69.7%. They were charged with 11 of the 16 runs that LA scored — that’s 68.75%.

The rotation allowed six home runs in the series. Five off of Hamels and Kemp’s shot off of Blanton in game four.

The bullpen did not allow a home run in their 13 1/3 innings. What they did allow was a lot of walks, giving up eight to go with 14 hits. Overall the bullpen threw to a 3.38 ERA with a 1.65 ratio in the series.

Madson got hit hard in game one and was charged with two runs on four hits. Park struggled in game two, trying to pitch back-to-back days after a long time away, and was charged with two runs while getting just one out. Park was charged with another run last night in game five when he came back for a second inning and gave up back-to-back singles to start the eighth.

Happ managed to escape the series without being charged with a run, but he pitched terribly. He made three appearances, walking three batters and getting two outs. It seems like he surely would have been Manuel’s choice to give the Phils some innings in relief of Hamels last night if he had been pitching better.

The Phillies lineup against righty Vicente Padilla went (1) Rollins (SS/S) (2) Victorino (CF/S) (3) Utley (2B/L) (4) Howard (1B/L) (5) Werth (RF/R) (6) Ibanez (LF/L) (7) Feliz (3B/R) (8) Ruiz (C/R).

The Phillies started the game with six players on the bench, lefties Dobbs, Stairs and Bako and righties Francisco, Bruntlett and Cairo.

The Phillies hit in the bottom of the first down 1-0. Rollins flew to Manny just in front of the track for the first out. Victorino bounced back to the mound 0-1 for the second. Utley took a 3-1 pitch high for a walk. Howard was next and Padilla looked like pitched around him, walking him on four pitches. Werth got ahead 3-0 then took two strikes to run the count full. He blasted a ball down the third base line but just foul before he smoked a ball out right to put the Phils up 3-1. Ibanez grounded to second to end the inning.

Padilla threw 23 pitches in the first inning. The pitch-around of Howard costs the Dodgers.

The lead was cut to 3-2 when they hit in the second. Feliz hit Padilla’s first pitch just out to right. 4-2. Ruiz grounded to second. Hamels struck out looking 1-2 for the second out. Rollins struck out swinging 3-2.

Fourteen pitches in the inning for Padilla, 37 for the game. The Dodgers had lots of action in their pen after Feliz led off with a homer, but Padilla got the next three hitters and got to stay in the game.

Victorino fouled out to Blake on an 0-1 pitch to start the third. Utley struck out looking 2-2. Howard grounded to Loney.

Padilla had retired six in a row since the Feliz homer. He needed just nine pitches to go through 2-3-4, which put him at 46 for the game.

Werth led off the fourth and singled into left on a 1-2 pitch. Ibanez ripped a 2-2 pitch into the right-center field gap. Ethier had a little trouble picking the ball up and Werth scored from first to put the Phils up 5-2. That was it for Padilla. Righty Ramon Troncoso came in to pitch to Feliz and Feliz grounded to third for the first out with Ibanez holding second. Ruiz was next and Troncoso walked him on four pitches to put men on first and second. Hamels bunted the runners to second and third. It brought up Rollins with two down and Troncoso nipped him with a 2-2 pitch to load the bases. Lefty George Sherrill came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino got ahead 3-0 before Sherrill hit him with a 3-2 pitch. Ibanez scored to make it 6-2. Sherrill struck Utley out looking 1-2 to end the inning.

Wasn’t expecting to see Sherrill in the fourth.

The Phils led 6-3 when they hit in the fifth. Lefty Clayton Kershaw was on the mound for LA and he walked Howard on a 3-2 pitch. Werth got ahead 2-0, but Kershaw came back to strike him out looking 3-2 for the first out. Ibanez hit a double-play ball to second, but Belliard had trouble getting the ball out of his glove for the flip to second and LA got just one out. Feliz struck out swinging to leave Ibanez stranded at first.

Kershaw snapped out of it after getting behind Werth 2-0.

He got the first two hitters to start the sixth. Ruiz flew to right on a 3-1 pitch for the first out. Cairo was next, hitting for Durbin, and he grounded to short 1-0 for the second. Rollins was next and Kershaw hit him in the foot with a 1-1 pitch, the third time in the game the Dodgers had hit a batter. Victorino was next and he blasted Kershaw’s first pitch to him well out to left, putting the Phils up 8-3. Utley struck out swinging to end the inning.

Lefty Hong-Chih Kuo pitched the seventh for LA. He struck Howard out looking 0-2, took a brief break for Werth to hit an 0-2 pitch out to center to make it 9-3, and then struck Ibanez and Feliz both out swinging.

Righty Ronald Belisario pitched the eighth with the Phils up 9-4. Ruiz led off and hit a ball to center, but Kemp made a nice diving catch for the first out. Stairs hit for Madson and popped to the catcher for the second out. Rollins was next and he singled back up the middle. Victorino followed and lined a 1-2 pitch that would have hit high off the wall in right if a fan had not reached over and tried to catch it. Victorino was given a double on fan interference and Rollins had to hold third. It cost the Phillies a run, but only for a minute. Belisario’s 1-0 pitch to Utley was inside and low and Martin couldn’t handle it. Rollins scored to make it 10-4 and Victorino took third. Utley grounded to second on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.

Rollins was 1-for-3 in the game and was hit by two pitches. 5-for-22 in the series with two doubles. His double to end game four was the biggest hit of the series. The difference between that single at-bat to end game four was the difference between the series being tied or the Dodgers needing to win the next two games to tie the series.

Victorino had a monster game last night, going 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBI. 7-for-19 in the series with a double, a triple and two home runs. 368/478/842 in the series and led the team in total bases with 16.

Utley was miserable last night, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk. 4-for-19 with four singles and four walks in the series.

Howard was 0-for-2 with two walks and did not drive in a run for the first time in his last nine post-season games. He was 5-for-15 with a double, a triple and two home runs in the series. He led the Phils with eight RBI. He also walked six times, which was the most on the team. 333/524/933, which was good enough to get him named MVP of the series.

Werth was 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI. 4-for-18 with three home runs and a single in the series.

Ibanez was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. 3-for-18 with a double and a home run in the series. The home run was a huge one, though, a three-run shot off of Sherrill the Phils needed to win game one. 167/211/389.

Feliz was 1-for-4 with a home run in the game and 2-for-17 with a triple and a home run in the series. 118/167/412.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk last night and 5-for-13 with a double, a home run and five walks in the set. 385/579/692.

Ruiz, Howard and Victorino all on-based .478 or better in the series. All three also hit .333 or better.

Howard, Victorino, Werth and Ruiz all slugged .692 or better.

Feliz, Ibanez and Utley combined to go 9-for-54 (.167).

Stairs was 0-for-1 last night and 0-for-1 in the series with a big walk in game four.

Cairo was 0-for-1 last night and 0-for-2 in the series.

Francisco seems sure to be a big part of the World Series. He did not play last night and was 0-for-3 in the series.

Dobbs was 0-for-1 in the series.

Bruntlett didn’t bat in the series but made an appearance as a pinch-runner for Stairs in game four and scored a critical run.

Bako did not play.

The pitching was terrible for LA in the set as they allowed 35 runs in five games. Overall, the Dodgers’ pitchers threw to a 7.38 ERA and a 1.38 ratio over 42 2/3 innings. They allowed ten home runs. In the regular season they pitched 1,473 1/3 innings and allowed 127 homers. If they had allowed home runs at their NLCS pace over the regular season and thrown the same number of innings they would have allowed 345. The Brewers were the only NL team to allow more than 200 home runs this season — they allowed 207.

Padilla made a great start for LA in game two. That was it for the starting pitching, though. Padilla was bad last night, Kershaw bad in game one and Kuroda awful in game three. Wolf allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings in game four. Overall the starters pitched 21 2/3 innings in the series for the Dodgers, throwing to a 8.72 ERA and a 1.48 ratio. Excluding Padilla’s game two start they made four starts in which they threw a total of just 14 2/3 innings with a 12.56 ERA and a 1.88 ratio.

The starters threw just 50.7% of the team’s innings for the series and allowed 60% of the runs LA gave up.

Coming into the series a big question was whether the Phils would be able to do anything against the mighty pen of LA. They would. The LA relievers had to throw almost as many innings as their starters in the five games. In 21 innings they gave up just 14 hits, but walked 13, which is way too many, and gave up four home runs. Overall they threw to a 6.00 ERA with a 1.29 ratio in the series.

Ibanez hit a huge three-run homer off of Sherrill in game one. The LA pen pitched well in game three, but they had a lot of work to do after Kuroda didn’t make it out of the second. Belisario was charged with three runs in an inning in that game. Broxton allowed a huge two-run double to Rollins in game four. The Phils scored four runs off of Kershaw, Kuo and Belisario in the last four innings of last night’s game.

Kuo and Troncoso pitched pretty well in relief for the Dodgers in the series. Troncoso wasn’t charged with a run in three innings over three appearances. He didn’t give up a hit but walked three. Kuo struck out six in four innings and allowed one run on the homer by Werth.

No game today. The first game of the World Series is Wednesday.


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