NLCS Rematch Anybody?


vicotirno 0607.jpgChad Durbin
allowed the game-winning home run to Dodgers rightfielder Andre Ethier in the 12th inning Saturday to make the first three games of a four-game series between the Phillies and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium pretty memorable.

“About what I expected,” Durbin said afterward.

How so?

Two good teams playing close, well-played games, he said.

Cole Hamels shutout the Dodgers on Thursday, Brad Lidge blew saves Friday and Saturday and the Phillies got good pitching and timely hitting in a 7-2 victory Sunday. The Dodgers and Phillies went their separate ways with the two best records in baseball, and there is no reason to think these teams cannot meet again this October in a rematch of the 2008 National League Championship Series:

  • The Phillies and Dodgers have the two best offenses in the National League with the Phillies averaging a league-best 5.5 runs per game and the Dodgers averaging 5.2 runs per game. Of course, the Dodgers have been without Manny Ramirez for a significant stretch, but you have to believe these teams will continue to score runs the remainder of the season.
  • The Dodgers have a 3.63 ERA, which is the best in the league. The Phillies have a 4.63 ERA, which ranks 15th. But the Phillies have a 3.62 ERA in their 23 games, which shows signs they are capable of pitching like they pitched last season.
  • The Phillies have a .991 fielding percentage, which leads the league. The Dodgers have a .989 fielding percentage, which ranks second. (I know there are other ways to rate a team’s defense, but it’s 2:25 a.m. Eastern and I have a flight to catch in a couple hours, so give me a pass.) The point I’m trying to make is these two teams are pretty good defensively, too.

“You never know what happens once you get to the playoffs,” Lidge said. “It seems if everything happens the way it has happened it could be the matchup. You never know who it’s going to be because somebody is going to get really hot going into the playoffs, and at that time you’re going to have to fight them off. Yeah, you’d hope the season progresses the way it does and we can meet these guys in the NLCS.”

“They are pretty darn good,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “We held our own with them. “We beat them on their field and we split here. I think that was important for us to beat them on their field and that was based on the fact that they swept us four games last year, plus the two in the playoffs. If we do meet them in the postseason, I think that is something that we do not have to concern ourselves with.”

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15 Comments

Glad to see Madson close this one out. Lidge needs to regroup and get his head on straight (he’s been through this before). Good to see Rollins move down in the order. Joe Morgan had some insightful comments about Rollins’ swing and how it’s adversely affecting his hitting. Maybe JRo will sort this out and return to the top of the order before too long. As a leadoff hitter, when he’s “on” the Phillies usually win.

(sort of can’t stand Morgan) but fantastic article Zo! What I find sick is that I’m so nervous and it’s barely May…this team has completely consumed my life!

But it’s great.

Thanks for the great column, and go Phightins!

Brandon-don’t look now, but it’s June 8th. I wouldn’t quite call this barely May lol. Still, I agree you’re a bit pathetic to be getting nervous already.

Great trip out West. 5-2 is a great pace. Let’s take 2/3 from the Muts and finish this road trip at 7-3. The pitching is getting better. So much so that I’m not convinced we need another starter, unless a great one falls into our lap per say. THE BASTARDO is doing great and will only get better as his confidence increases. Todd, you didn’t tell us if he was still throwing mainly FBs or if he was mixing in his other stuff as well, and if so, how effectively (not all of us can stay up for West Cost games you know) Between Cole, Branton, Happ Bastardo and Moyer we have a pretty good rotation. If Lidge gets it together (blowing a save on an error by a great defensive 3rd baseman and a fly ball that bounces off the glove of your OF isn’t quite lousy pitching) we’ll be unbeatable.

If you told me before they boarded the plane to go west that they would go 5-2 I would have taken that, so I won’t be very disappointed about the way it happened. We know that JRoll will get better than this and if Lidge doesn’t, we have Mad Dog.
We still need a pitcher though, IMO. Bastardo is a tough kid and isn’t afraid to throw strikes, but he can’t make it through the season like this. He throws a lot of pitches and he’s never thrown more than 100 innings in his professional career. He’ll hit a wall eventually even if he continues to succeed.
Who is the #2? If they go into a playoff series they go Hamels and….??? Not Moyer, I hope. They really need another solid veteran pitcher.

I was also pleased w/their 5-2 west coast road trip. I think they can take 2 out of 3 from the Mutts. They’re 1/2 the team they were when we last saw them what w/all of their injuries.

Bastardo pitched very well. Nice to see the bats come alive a bit yesterday. Chooch coming through w/the 2-run HR–sweet!

Phan, Perhaps Bastardo hits the wall, perhaps not. If he does we bring up one of our countless prospects (do I need to list them?) as for 1-2 you can go Hamels- branton, Hamels Happ, Hamels Bastardo. DOn’t wrooy about what number they have, but how they are pitching.

If we can get a top line pitcher without selling the farm, great, otherwise I’m happy to sit pretty in first place and win with the guys we have.

BTW: we need to call this guy THE BASTARDO what a name for a pitcher.

Lidge does not need to “regroup” or “get things straight”. Lidge is not hurt. He’s just not throwing first pitch strikes. Getting batters down 0-1 means he can come after them with the slider on his terms, not the batters. The talk of replacing him with Madson has to be some talk radio brainchild to get the ratings up. It’s insane.

Dumb labels like “closer” aside, the point is that the Phils should put their best reliever in when the game is on the line, and right now that’s Madson, not Lidge, and it’s not close.

f_i_j we won’t be sitting in first place and winning with this rotation for very long, recent improvements notwithstanding. Also, is “Branton” a joke that I’m missing? You always call him Branton.

Sorry f-i-j, they may be able to win the division with this rotation, but they certainly are not winning a World F’ing Championship. They need an upgrade to do that. And with Bastardo, it’s not a question of ‘if’ he hits a wall, it’s ‘when’. It is just the way it is with young pitchers when they extend themselves for the first time.
They don’t have to sell the farm to get another pitcher. They just have to bide their time until the right deal presents itself. There will be numerous sellers the closer we get to the trade deadline. In the meantime they really need to upgrade their pathetic bench. That is an IMMEDIATE need. Having Vic out and needing to sit JRoll exposed it big-time. If somebody gets hurt in the outfield we will really be scrambling.

Phan, The Branton is my total inability to type. No jke excpet my fingers not obeying my brain cells.

I agree that we need bench help ASAP. I had thought during the spring that Donalad woud be the answer if at this point Cairo etc weren’t doing it, but he’s not exactly tearing up AAA himself. I understand DeRossa might be on the block. We were looking at him over teh winter, and I’d be willing to trade for him. I don’t know what it would take, however and again, don’t want to part with any or our top prospects (though he is a great player to have on bench (kind of puts Brunett out of a job, too)

As for a starter, I agree. We can afford to wait until the pitcher we want is available on our terms. If (When) THE BASTARDO hits the wall we can send him down and bring up Carlos, Carpenter, etc. I wouldn’t be surprized if the Phils are thinking of Drubek already for this eventuality.

OK, got to see Bastardo’s start last night(couldn’t watch Tuesday). Comparing what I saw to what I read about his first start, I’d say that his control was better and that he used more offspeed stuff last night than he did on Tuesday. That said, I agree with Manuel, he’s got a ways to go.

Even though his control was better, he kept falling behind hitters. Also, even though he did throw more offspeed pitches, he could have used still more along with better command of them.

There were many times last night where I was looking for/hoping he would throw something offspeed, either because he had the hitter set up for it or because he just had to get away from his fastball. I was very nervous during several at-bats where he just threw one fastball after another and they kept getting fouled off. Sometimes he was able to “get away with it” when some hard hit balls——-deep fly balls, the hot shot that backed Rollins up onto the outfield grass——-were turned into outs by our defense. Sometimes he was not, as he started to give up some hits.

While part of me wants to give Bastardo credit for doing what he has done so far, there is another part of me that wonders how much is due to him and how much is due to the fact that he is an unknown quantity. I say that because the Dodgers hit him better in start #2 than the Padres did in start #1. Also, the Dodgers kept hitting him better each time through the lineup. Bastardo breezed the first time through, gave up a run in the 4th the second time through, and most likely would have given up even more than that the third time through were he left in any longer in the 6th.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m hammering the kid because I’m not. I’m actually encouraged. The Phils know where he’s at and what he will need to do to remain successful in the bigs and seem to have made some progress toward that end already. It will be up to him to develop quicker than the hitters can figure him out.

In the meantime, he’s got the stuff to get over on guys who have never seen him before, at least for a little while, and buy us some time to make a deal for a top of the rotation starter. This is not to mention the experience he is getting now will hopefully accelerate his development and get him ready to become a solid member of our starting rotation in the near future.

I find it amazing that people are so quick to drop Lidge and stick whomever is pitching best in the closer spot. If this were the postseason, that argument might have a little more to it. As it stands however, the Phillies are in this for the long haul and I think sticking with Lidge is exactly the kind of thing that makes this Phillies team unique and gives them a chance to get to the playoffs. Yes it’s a business, yes they’re professionals, but Manuel’s showing that there is solidarity and loyalty here. Not blind, of course – if this continues, it’s cause for concern. But at the same time you don’t demote your closer because of a few bad games. The fact that the Phillies stick together through the wins and losses is something you can’t quantify on the stat board when you’re making predictions for October. But in my book their solidarity is more important than a game or two in May/June.

bski1: Great analysis. The question I’ve been asking all day is does he have the change-up/ breaking ball we were led to believe he possessed, or not? If he does, then his not using it correctly is a matter of confidence and maturity. Both of these issues should be dealt with by the pitching coach, the catcher and time in big leagues. If he just doesn’t have anything of quality other than his fast ball then he will become another Kendrick at some point. That is when he’ll be sent down to work on his other pitches. I tend to believe that we are witnessing a lack of confidence and maturity. I can’t believe that after Kendrick the Phils would make the same mistake twice.

He wasn’t called up like Carpenter to pitch one start and go back down. He was called up, like Kendrick to join the rotation until he proves he doesn’t belong. They must feel he has the necessary stuff or they would have brought someone else up. It’s not as if Myers is expected back any day–we all know he’s gone for teh season if not for good (though I won’t be surprized if we resign him via arbitration for 1 more year.

I love all theses baseball experts who post here with such certitude. The Braves #1 prospect got called up and pitched yesterday. From everything I have read this guy, Tommy Hanson or Hansome or whatever, is can’t miss and has a repertoire of three or four pitches. Guess what, the Brave pitcher lasted about 6 innings and got shellacked. Last week another top Brave prospect got called up, had two starts, got shellacked and is now back in the minors. Now here comes the Phillies with a real Bastardo. A guy who has only one pitch, a fastball. What does he do other than allow 3 earned runs in 11 innings and win two ballgames? Nothing, I guess. How about this for a baseball axiom “Less is often times more”.

I’m glad Charlie is sticking with Brad. What a lot of fans don’t realize is that This will be better for Madson in the long run too. Can you imagine if Ryan goes 5-5 in save opportunities and then gets switched back to the set-up role after they figure out Lidge’s problem. It’ll be Brett Myers April~July ’08 all over again. Players have to understand and ACCEPT their roles. Chan Ho Park seems to have accepted his role and I’m sure he will be this good for the rest of the year.

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