Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, September 29, 2008 02:10 PM Comments: 33
We begin our seven-part look at the NLDS.
Part I : Starting Pitching
Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09 ERA, 196 K, 53 BB)
Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55 ERA, 163 K, 65 BB)
Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71 ERA, 123 K, 62 BB)
Joe Blanton (9-12, 4.69 ERA, 111 K, 66 BB)
Jeff Suppan (10-10, 4.96 ERA, 90 K, 67 BB)
CC Sabathia (17-10, 2.70 ERA, 251 K, 59 BB)
Manny Parra (10-8, 4.39 ERA, 147 K, 75 BB)
Dave Bush (9-10, 4.18 ERA, 109 K, 48 BB)
The Phils and Brewers have very similar rotations. They feature one bona-fide ace and a few guys stirring in the mid-rotation level. All of the eight can go six innings and give up two runs. All can also go three and give up eight runs.
For the Brewers, all talk begins with Sabathia, who should beat the Phillies. He has great stuff — velocity on his fastball and good breaks on his secondary stuff. Unless the Phils can hang with him and force their bullpen, it’ll be a tough to take any game with Sabathia in there.
The Crew has just one lefty: Parra. He couldn’t get out of the second against the Phillies Sept. 13. He is a strikeout lefty, which means a pressing Ryan Howard and Chase Utley could prove fatal for the Phils in that game. Still, he is ultimately beatable, even if the lefties don’t necessarily show up. Just look for the fastball.
Of the righties, Suppan and Bush could pose easy targets for the Phils bats … they could also be very difficult. In Suppan’s Sept. 14 start, the Phils torched him for six runs in 3.2 innings, but the righty has a full arsenal of pitches, and will throw anything to win (see Moyer, Jamie). Bush gave Milwaukee a quality start earlier that day, going six and giving up three runs, but he’s a fastball-curve guy who the Phils could knock around.
The Phils will open with Hamels, who has had mixed results against Milwaukee. Prince Fielder has a bunch of hits off Hamels this season — including two home runs. If he can keep Fielder at bay, he should win. Myers was brilliant against the Brewers, but his last two starts were atrocious. If he doesn’t keep his fastball down, it’ll be a long day.
The deciding factors, to me, are Moyer and Blanton. The Brewers should have trouble against a crafty Moyer. Blanton could destruct against a Milwaukee offense looking for fastballs, so Kentucky Joe has to keep the ball down and mix up his pitches.
Analysis: To be straight, I’m unsure about the Milwaukee rotation. It’s Sabathia and innings-eaters. Sure, it resembles the Phillies rotation, but the Phils have demonstrated a good amount of success against them. Suppan does have playoff experience, but he’s 5.42 away from Miller Park, has an ERA over 8.00 in September and has a 5.37 ERA in the daytime. We talk about Hamels’ day splits — this ain’t no picnic at all. Suppan is your classic league-average pitcher who parlayed his moderate success into big bucks, a la Carlos Silva.
Meanwhile, Parra scares me in that he can be dominant for stretches, but the Phils showed that he’s hittable. And he’s especially hittable the second time around. From the fourth inning on, batters are hitting over .300 consistently. He’s barely a six-inning pitcher. So while the Phils have lefties (hitting .233 against him), Pat Burrell, Pedro Feliz, Shane Victorino and the like should be successful once they see what he has in his arsenal.
It is possible the Brewers go with Yovani Gallardo (0-0, 1.88 ERA, 20 K, 8 BB) instead of Parra. Gallardo is a very good young pitcher capable of going deep into games. He carries a fastball in the low-mid 90s and a curveball that at times can be devastating. Is he beatable? Yes, with patience. Can the Phillies beat him? Maybe.
Bush doesn’t give me any willies whatsoever. Of course, Sabathia does, so that’s a wash. I do think this series will come down to Parra in game three, if that’s the matchup. And I do think the Phils will beat him.