NLCS Preview

The NLCS begins tonight on TBS w/ the Phils heading out west to meet the Dodgers. Needless to say, I’d rather be doing this for the Cards and Phils but here we are. It appears, on paper, to be a fairly evenly matched series. See below.

Dodgers wRC PA RC/PA UZR/150 Phillies wRC PA RC/PA UZR/150
Furcal 74.3 680 0.109 6.7 Rollins 79 725 0.109 2.3
Kemp 101.1 667 0.152 3.9 Victorino 97.7 694 0.141 -1.9
Ethier 105.3 685 0.154 -13.1 Utley 123.8 687 0.180 8.8
Ramirez 75.7 431 0.176 -14.7 Howard 122 703 0.174 1.4
Loney 79.7 652 0.122 0.7 Werth 110.7 676 0.164 5.7
Blake 79.5 565 0.141 7.0 Ibanez 91.2 565 0.161 8.1
Belliard 36.9 287 0.129 3.9 Feliz 61.3 625 0.098 3.1
Martin 60 588 0.102 Ruiz 48 379 0.127
Total 1.084 Total 1.153

The Phils’ potent lineup averages about .07 runs created per PA more than the Dodgers’ balanced lineup does. The Phils’ defense, overall, is better than the Dodgers’ – even historically wretched fielders such as Howard and Ibanez were above average this year by UZR – but the Dodgers’ is better up the middle (2B, SS, and CF). Let’s now look at the pitching.

Dodgers RAR IP RAR/IP Phillies RAR IP RAR/IP
Kershaw 38.9 171 0.227 Hamels 35.5 193.2 0.183
Wolf 29.2 214.1 0.136 Happ 17.4 166 0.105
Kuroda 20.6 117.1 0.176 Lee 61.8 231.2 0.267
Padilla 20.4 147.1 0.138 Martinez 5.6 44.2 0.125
Kuo 3.9 30 0.130 Blanton 21.2 195.1 0.109
Belisario 7.0 70.2 0.099 Eyre -0.3 30 -0.01
Sherrill 13.6 69 0.197 Madson 13.3 77.1 0.172
Broxton 27.3 76 0.359 Lidge -7.2 58.2 -0.123

The Dodgers have the home field advantage, a lot of lefties to match up w/ the Phils’ hitters, and the advantage of being in a better position to set up their rotation. The Phils have the more potent offense and the better defense. It sets up to be a great, evenly matched series but I see that the Dodgers have 2 major advantages.

First, the Dodgers have a ton of lefthanded pitchers ready to face Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, and Ibanez. They’ll start 3 lefties in 6 games and they’ve got Kuo and Sherrill – 2 very good lefties – ready to give them innings out of the pen. As a team the Phils have actually performed slightly better against lefties this year than against righties. In fact, Utley and Ibanez have crushed lefties this year from the left side and Werth and Victorino have been solid from the right side. However, for his career Ibanez has given up about 90 points of OPS against lefties and Utley’s given up about 30. Howard just isn’t good against lefties and there’s only so much damage Victorino – a very good player – can provide. Plus, Kershaw and the rest aren’t ordinary lefties. Sherrill and Kuo, for example, would right now be the best two pitchers in our pen.

The other advantage is at the back end of the pen. Brad Lidge has been absolutely awful this year and has barely survived the series against the Rockies. Broxton, though he wasn’t dominant against the Cardinals, was the best closer in the NL over the course of the season. I’d take him over any closer in the NL at this point. It helps also that the Dodgers have the home field advantage. As I said, it’ll be a great series but I’m going to take the Dodgers in 7 – surviving 2 starts against Lee – to advance to the World Series.

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