The Los Angeles Dodgers will take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series. The odds show the favorites are the Dodgers at -120, but let’s take a deep look into this matchup to see who really has the best chance of coming out on top.
As of Tuesday morning the starting pitchers have still not been declared but it looks like Cole Hamels will make the start for the Phillies.
Overall the Dodgers have the edge as they led the Big Leagues not only in overall ERA, but also in bullpen ERA. On the other hand the Phillies were ranked 7th overall and 13th out of their bullpen. The weaknesses are obvious in the bullpen as the Phillies had a lot of doubts on who would be closing out games, but those questions have all been resolved if you trust Lidge’s two saves were the real thing against Colorado.
We will likely see Wolf, Padilla, and Kershaw, and possibly Garland or Billingsley if the Dodgers decide to go to a 4 man rotation which is what squads commonly do at this point. While Philadelphia will go with Hamels, Lee, Happ, Martinez, and possibly Blanton. So we have 5 possible pitchers on each team.
Dodgers SP who might struggle:
Randy Wolf – who will be the ace of the Dodgers again gave up 6 ER in Dodgers Stadium in June to the Phillies on 6.1 innings and 8 hits. However, the Phillies are hitting just .261 off Wolf and Wolf owns LH hitters which the Phillies have plenty of.
Jon Garland – Phillies are hitting .309 off him and in two starts this year one, at home and once on the road, he went 11.1 IP allowing 8 ER on 16 hits.
Phillies SP who might struggle:
Joe Blanton – Dodgers sluggers have a .295 average off Blanton in 129 AB. However, Blanton threw well in his 1 start vs. the Dodgers as he went 6.1 innings and gave up just 1 ER.
Both of these squads have first ballot hall of famers in the middle of their lineups in Manny Ramirez and Ryan Howard. It can be contended that Utley is also a Hall of Famer. Their are two strong deviations between these teams and that is power vs. average. The Phillies are ranked #21 in average while the Dodgers are in the top five at #4 in the league. Does that mean the Dodgers are the sounder offensive team? No, not necessarily. Sometimes in these big games what counts is clutch hitting and a home run late in a game.
The Phillies have the advantage in the power category as they have 224 HR equated to the Dodgers’ 145. I think the Dodgers have more power than many believe, and it will come into play in this series. While the Dodgers play small ball the Phillies can smash a 3 run HR for a quick offensive explosion. Small ball in my opinion does not always transform into big clutch hitting. If we are talking exclusive clutch hitting you have to give it to the Phillies who came from behind with 2 outs and trailing 4-2 in Game 4 to win 5-4. It was the middle of the lineup that got it done in Howard and Werth.
Whenever you have two respectable players coming off your pine like Jim Thome or Juan Pierre you have the two components of a bench player that you desire. Juan Pierre is a guy that can get on base and maybe steal a base. Jim Thome is a guy who can come in a key match up and hit a HR to tie the game or get your team the lead. Philadelphia on the other hand have Miguel Cairo, Ben Francisco and Matt Stairs none of which should frighten the superior Dodgers bullpen.
Pick: Dodgers in 6 games – Anticipate the Dodgers to take advantage of this series when they are at home. The Phillies bullpen will really damage them in this match up. The Phillies exposed the Rockies weakness vs. left-handed pitching and this won’t be the case versus the Dodgers as LA hit .270 vs. both lefties and righties, but score +.59 more runs per 9 innings vs. lefties than RHP. Bottom line pitching wins championships and the Dodgers with their pen have the major advantage!
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