MLB Playoffs News and Notes October 15

MLB Playoffs News and Notes October 15

NLCS Game 5 Preview
By Josh Jacobs

It took 11½-innings until the Dodgers’ bullpen would be responsible with giving up at least one run. However, the end of that streak served as a brutal letdown with L.A. tossing Game 4 out the window in the top of the eighth inning.
   
With the Dodgers up 5-3, Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard started the eighth off with a single. L.A. manager Joe Torre signaled for right-handed reliever Cory Wade, a mistake still reverberating throughout Chavez Ravine. It was Philly center fielder Shane Victorino that golfed a first-pitch curveball. The Dodgers’ slinger finalized the evening by grooving a fastball down the center of the plate with a 3-1 count to the Phillies pitch hitter, Matt Stairs. The fat lady sung, Philly took the final lead of the contest and L.A. strolled back to the locker room with its tail tucked between its legs.

Game 5 is slated to begin at 8:22 p.m. EDT with Bodog.com initially installing the Phillies as $1.20 visiting favorites (best $120 to make $100). A total of 7½-runs is currently sitting on the boards at most books. Sixty-percent of the betting public seems to be laying its hard earned dollars down on L.A. as of Tuesday evening.

So now the Dodgers will send out starter Chad Billingsley for the second time in this series after coming off of four days of rest (9-5, 3.33 ERA when returning after those four days). The second-year right-hander is coming off a 2.1 inning shellacking in Game 2, coughing up eight hits and eight runs on only 59 pitches. The main problem that Billingsley faces are Philadelphia left-handed hitters, Howard, Chase Utley and switch hitter Jimmy Rollins. On the season, L.A.’s No. 2 starter has been tagged for a .274 BAA versus righties struggling with a .225 BA.

Concern must be centered on a pitching staff that went from throwing the ball for a 3.33 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP during the regular season to registering, a 2.00 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP and 8.00 strikeouts per nine in the NLDS to falling on its face for a 1-3 record with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 34 innings during this championship series.

The Dodgers didn’t have a problem showing up at the plate on Monday night, with 11 hits, eight walks and five runs evidence of adequate at bats. Then again, L.A. did leave 22 men on base. The importance of this stat can be seen in a sample of the Dodgers’ last 10 losses which has the team averaging 14.4 LOB (left on base). In only one of those defeats did L.A. log in just under 10 LOBs, with seven of the losses witnessing at least 13 LOBs or more.

Philadelphia will send out two-game postseason winning starter Cole Hamels to the mound in hopes of maintaining that 1.20 ERA and a batting deprived 0.73 WHIP (playoff stats). Hamels has blown away the competition with 17 strikeouts, only three walks issued and a BAA of .157. His last win over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS was a solid outing, protecting the plate for six hits with two runs on a 105 pitch count.

On a 20-7 run in their last 27 games, look for the Phillies’ Pat Burrell (.308, six RBIs in the postseason), Utley (.286, five RBIs) and, the star in the postseason, Victorino (.267, 11 RBIs) to help put this best-of-seven series to rest.

L.A. has bounced back nicely in games past, going 9-2 in its last 11 following a defeat but overall, Philadelphia is a suffocating 7-1 in the last eight head-to-head meetings. And take note that with the odd day off, the Phillies are 12-3 in their last 15 games following a day of rest. The Dodgers are a cold 1-10 in their last 11 versus National League East opponents.

Although we’re looking a little ahead, if the series shifts back to Philadelphia the Dodgers are slated to start Hirkoi Kuroda in Game 6 and Derek Lowe in Game 7 if necessary. Countering for the Phillies would be starter Brett Myers in Game 6 and Jamie Moyer in the final contest (of course all hypothetical at this point).

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Wednesday’s mound matchup
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Cole Hamels (Philadelphia Phillies) vs. Chad Billingsley (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Cole Hamels LHP (14-10, 3.09 ERA)


Move over Rocky Balboa, Cole Hamels is quickly becoming Philadelphia’s most storied sports hero. The young lefty followed a stellar showing in the NLDS with a seven inning effort in the championship series in which he allowed just two runs on six hits.

Hamels struck out eight batters and walked just two during that 3-2 win over the Dodgers. He’s had Los Angeles’ number all season. In his three career starts versus L.A., Hamels has given up just six earned runs and struck out 20.

Hamels can pull the trigger on the Dodgers and send the Phillies to the World Series for the first time since 1993. While the baby-faced ace has just three postseason starts under his belt he does have a 7-3 record and 3.19 ERA on the road this season.

Chad Billingsley RHP (16-10, 3.14 ERA)

Billingsley felt the wrath of the Phillies’ sticks in his Game 2 start Friday. He served up seven earned runs on eight hits and lasted just over two innings before getting the hook. Los Angeles attempted a comeback but could only pull within three before getting shutout in the final five innings.

Billingsley was great in his NLDS start against Chicago. The right hander allowed just one run on five hits in a 6 2/3-inning effort. He struck out seven and walked only two batters.

He’s pitched extremely well inside Dodgers Stadium during the season. Billingsley is 10-4 with a 2.95 ERA at home.

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Philadelphia (6-2) at L.A. Dodgers (4-4)

Now just one win away from their first trip to the World Series in 15 years, the Phillies will hand the ball to ace Cole Hamels (16-10, 2.97 ERA), who is set to oppose Chad Billingsley (17-11, 3.35) in Game 5 of the best-of-7 National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium.

Philadelphia stormed back from a 5-3, eighth-inning deficit on Monday and stunned the Dodgers 7-5, scoring four runs in the eighth inning thanks to a pair of two-run home runs by Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs. It marked the first win by the road team in 12 head-to-head meetings between these teams this year, and in fact the Phillies snapped a six-game losing skid at Dodger Stadium with the win.

The Phillies carry a bunch of positive streaks into this game, including 20-7 overall, 7-3 on the road (2-2 in the playoffs), 8-1 against the N.L. West, 21-8 versus teams with a winning record, 24-9 against right-handed starters, 12-3 after an off day and 4-1 with Hamels on the hill (2-0 in the playoffs). Also, since getting swept in a four-game series at Dodger Stadium in early August, Charlie Manuel’s club has ripped off seven wins in eight tries against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are now 1-10 in their last 11 games against N.L. East competition. However, despite falling in a 3-1 hole in this series, they remain on runs of 23-11 overall, 20-7 at home, 9-3 against southpaw starters, 9-2 after a defeat, 6-1 following an off day and 4-1 on Wednesdays. L.A. is also 5-2 in Billingsley’s last seven starts overall and 6-1 in his last seven outings at home.

Hamels locked down the Dodgers in Game 1, giving up just two runs on six hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings en route to a 3-2 victory. Hamels has faced the Dodgers three times in his career – all this season – and posted identical numbers of two runs allowed in seven innings in each contest, going 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA while walking a total of four and striking out 20. However, in his one outing at Dodger Stadium, he got a no-decision in his team’s 4-3 loss.

Hamels has given up two earned runs or fewer in five straight starts and 11 of his last 12, and he’s 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his two playoff efforts in 2008, both of which came at home. On the highway this year, the lefty went 7-3 with a 3.19 ERA in 16 trips to the mound.

Billingsley was brilliant in his first career playoff start in Game 2 against the Cubs on Oct. 2, allowing a run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 10-3 road win. However, he followed that up with his worst and shortest stint of the season in Friday’s 8-5 Game 2 loss at Philadelphia. The young right-hander gave up all eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits and three walks in just 2 1/3 innings.

Prior to Friday, Billingsley had faced the Phillies three times over the past two regular seasons, going 1-1 with a 4.01 ERA. On the bright side, he was awesome at Dodger Stadium this year, going 10-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 17 appearances (16 starts).

The over is 6-0-1 in Billingsley’s last seven starts overall (2-0 in the playoffs), but the Phillies have stayed low in each of Hamels’ last four outings, including both in the postseason.

The over is 19-7-2 in the last 28 head-to-head clashes at Dodger Stadium, including 4-1-1 this year and 2-0 in this series. Also, the over for the Dodgers is on streaks of 5-2 overall, 5-1 at home, 5-1 against the N.L. East, 9-3-3 versus lefty starters and 6-0 on Wednesdays. Finally, since Game 1 in both League Championship Series’ stayed under the total, the over is on a 6-0 run in the ALCS and NLCS.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER

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PHILADELPHIA (98 - 72) at LA DODGERS (88 - 81) - 8:20 PM
COLE HAMELS (L) vs. CHAD BILLINGSLEY (R)
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
PHILADELPHIA is 7-5 (+2.5 Units) against LA DODGERS this season
6 of 11 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL this season . (Over=+0.9 Units)

COLE HAMELS vs. LA DODGERS since 1997
HAMELS is 2-0 when starting against LA DODGERS with an ERA of 2.57 and a WHIP of 0.952.
His team's record is 2-1 (+1.0 units) in these starts. The UNDER is 1-1. (-0.1 units)

CHAD BILLINGSLEY vs. PHILADELPHIA since 1997
BILLINGSLEY is 1-2 when starting against PHILADELPHIA with an ERA of 6.64 and a WHIP of 1.968.
His team's record is 2-2 (-0.2 units) in these starts. The UNDER is 2-2. (-0.2 units)


PHILADELPHIA vs. LA DODGERS
Philadelphia is 1-6 SU in their last 7 games when playing on the road against LA Dodgers
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Philadelphia's last 13 games when playing on the road against LA Dodgers
LA Dodgers are 12-4 SU in their last 16 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 5 of LA Dodgers's last 6 games at home


National League Championship Series
Best of Seven
Game Five
Phillies Lead, 3-1
TV: FOX
Philadelphia at LA Dodgers, 8:20 ET
Cole Hamels (L) vs. Chad Billingsley (R)

Hamels:
7-1 TSR vs. NL West
Philly 11-1 Over at LA Dodgers

Billingsley:
11-6 Over 2nd half of season
Dodgers 5-2 Over in playoff games

Phillies can clinch NL title with win here; Billingsley gave up eight runs in 2.1 IP in Game 2 of this series, the second time in his last four starts he allowed 7+ runs-- that was his first start against Philly this season. LA's loss Monday was first win by road team in series between these teams this year. Over is 6-0-1 in last seven Billingsley starts. Hamels is 4-1, 2.36 in his last five starts; he's made three starts against Dodgers in 2008, and allowed two runs in seven IP in all three outings.

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Tips and Trends

Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers

Phillies (-120, O/U 7.5):.Cole Hamels has been sensational so far this postseason, allowing just two runs over 15 innings, while striking out 17. Hamels has been a road warrior this year, going 7-3 with a 3.19 ERA away from home. Hamels has started two games against the Dodgers in his career, going 1-0 with a strong 2.57 ERA. Both of Hamels' playoff starts have easily gone UNDER the total.

Phillies are 8-1 in their last 9 vs. NL West.
Phillies are 1-6 in the last 7 meetings in Los Angeles.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 4 (Side Play of the Day)

Dodgers: Chad Billingsley is looking to bounce back after getting rocked by the Phillies in his last outing. In that game, Billingsley allowed eight hits and seven runs in just 2.1 innings of work. After starting his first two playoff games on the road, Billingsley returns home where he was 10-4 with a stellar 2.95 ERA during the regular season.

Dodgers are 6-1 in their last 7 games following an off day.
Dodgers are 9-2 in their last 11 games following a loss.

Key Injuries - OF Andruw Jones (knee) is OUT.

PROJECTED SCORE: 2

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Indian Cowboy

Phillies vs. Dodgers Research

The Dodgers have their back to the wall similar to the Red Sox, but some silver lining is that the Dodgers will play this game at home. This game will be on Fox and the Phillies came back from a defecit in the late innings to put up several runs to take the lead back from the Dodgers. The line is set at -120 for the game and the total resides at 7.5. A bit dissappointing for the Dodgers that they will have to face Hamel in this game, but in some respects it is an advantage. Think about it, if you are to face Hamels, would you not want to face him at home rather than on the road. Roughly 56% favor teh Dodgers at home here with the plus price in the elimination game. The last 3 in this contest have gone over and the last 5 outings for Hamels has been rock solid. He has pitched 5 straight quality starts and his last 9 of 10 have been quality as he has really come through for this team. This team is 7-2-1 in Hamel's last 10 starts as Hamel helped beat the Dodgers 3-2 and 9-2 before that. Having said that, Billingsley is on a bounce-back himself after giving up 7 runs in just over 2 innings, giving up 8 hits in that process. Billingsley has helped his team win 6 out of the last 8 contests. If I had to take one side or the other, note that Billingsley is on a bounce-back, he is at home, he hasp itched 6 of 8 quality contests so he has not pitched back to back non-quality starts in quite some time, look for this baby to be a pitcher's duel. My lean hence is on the under.

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