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NLCS Game 1 Open Thread

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So -- is it better to have home field advantage or win game 1 of the LCS? Since the playoffs expanded in 1995, the team w/ the home field advantage has won the series 14 times and lost 12. It almost makes no difference. However, winning the first game of the series has a much stronger correlation w/ winning the series. Teams that have won the first game of the LCS have gone on to win the series 17 times against 9 losses -- almost 2 out of every 3 times.

Tonight it's Hamels vs. Lowe. Looking at the teams initially, I thought Hamels was pretty easily the best starter on either staff. I was surprised to find out, however, that BOTH Lowe AND Billingsley finished w/ lower FIPs this year than Hamels. Hamels is, unquestionably, a terrific pitcher. I guess my surprise came in how good Lowe and, to a lesser degree, Billingsley were this year. In fact, Hiroki Kuroda ALSO finished w/ a lower FIP than Hamels. It's true that the Dodgers' pitchers faced weaker competition in better pitcher's parks, but even if you normalize for competition and park factors, Billingsley, Lowe, and Hamels were all about equally good this year.

Citizens Bank Park can have a big impact on this series. There are few parks in the game that are tougher on pitchers than Citizens Bank Park is. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Lowe is an extreme ground ball pitcher -- 60.3% GB%. Hamels had a 2.99 ERA at home this year. Can you believe he was slightly better at home than on the road? He yielded 15 homers in 117.2 IP at home. Should be a really great series. BTW, let's see what the reaction is during this series or the World Series when Brad Lidge gives up a homer. He's a fly ball pitcher and has been extremely lucky to have only given up 2 so far this year. How often will we get to see the Pujols homer during this series?