Kershaw vs. Hamels in Game 1

kershaw.jpgIt’s Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (8-8, 2.79 ERA) vs. Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32 ERA) in Game 1 of the NLCS.

Kershaw is 0-3 with a 6.45 ERA (16 earned runs in 22 1/3 innings) in four starts and two postseason relief appearances in his career against the Phillies. He is 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season.

“That was a long time ago,” said Kershaw, asked about this season’s struggles against the Phillies. “I think I’ve gotten better since then. I think I’ve figured some stuff out from the beginning of the season to now, and there’s a lot of stuff obviously I have to change from those starts. But nothing specific or nothing that I can pinpoint, it’s just go out there and pitch the way that I’ve been pitching the past couple times out and don’t worry about what’s happened in the past. I think that’s the most important thing for me.”

Here are Kershaw’s regular-season splits against the Phillies: Jimmy Rollins .273 (3-for-11, one double, one RBI, one hit by pitch); Shane Victorino .125 (1-for-8, one RBI, two strikeouts); Chase Utley .300 (3-for-10, one double, one home run, one RBI, two walks, four strikeouts); Ryan Howard .125 (1-for-8, one double, three RBIs, three walks, three strikeouts, one sacrifice fly); Jayson Werth .300 (3-for-10, one walk, two strikeouts); Raul Ibanez .400 (2-for-5, one double, two walks); Pedro Feliz .500 (2-for-4, one double, two walks); Carlos Ruiz .000 (0-for-2, two walks, one strikeout) and Ben Francisco .000 (0-for-2, one walk).

Hamels has fared better against the Dodgers. He threw a shutout against them at Dodger Stadium on June 4. He went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against them in last year’s NLCS to earn series MVP honors. He is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four career regular-season starts against them.


Got to LA in one piece yesterday. Stayed Monday night near the Denver airport, which I’m pretty sure is somewhere in Nebraska. Flew to LA. Got stuck in traffic on the 110. Got some In-N-Out. Did laundry. Took a NyQuil and went to bed.


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Our best chance of beating Kershaw is if the Dodgers continue to give him NO RUN SUPPORT. I just took a look at his game log and there were no fewer than 14 quality outings where he should have gotten a win, but didn’t. Hamels will have to keep this game close. Kershaw’s ERA at home is under 2.00. Let’s hope luck continues to be on our side….GO COLE!!!!!!!!!!! GO PHILS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Todd, what strikes me about the stats you posted is the WALKS. Kershaw only averaged walking 1 hitter every 3 innings. Yet the Phils seem to average 1 BB per player per 4-5 plate appearances. If the Phils show the same level of patience at the plate as they did against the Rockies, the Phils could easily knock him out early.

I hope the DAYLIGHT starting time won’t work against Cole. As I posted before he pitched against the Rockies, he was 0-6 in the regular season in day games. Now he’s 0-1 in the post season in day games. Maybe I’m naturally paranoid, but I think if Cole can get through the daylight innings, he’ll get the win.

Ugh. Luck. I hate that word. It’s meaningless. And what’s run support? Another coincidental statistic. One year it’s one pitcher, the next year it’s another. Just play baseball. I’m much more interested in being patient and taking walks than in luck or some phony run support stat.

Where is everyone?

muleman, like it or not, luck is a part of all sports.

the clock is wrong….

Todd, I love In ‘n Out Burger! I’m living out here in LA. Any chance that you can get a hold of some game tickets for transplanted Phans out here? lol

Luck is a huge part of the game, which is why we have to consider things like BABIP when looking at a pitcher’s performance. So is run support, which is why wins is such a misleading and unhelpful statistic.

He who posts alone is truely alone……….

phylan, how do sabermetricians measure stats minus the luck factor? I mean how do you label something as lucky or unlucky? Bad hops are unlucky, of course. But what isn’t due to some form of luck?

Well it depends on what context you talk about. In terms of pitchers, BABIP is how they do it – it’s the percentage of balls put in play against them that fall for hits (does not include home runs). This number, with large enough sample sizes, always regresses to the league average of about .300 for pitchers. This is because after the ball is put in play, the pitcher can’t control what happens, besides trying to induce a groundball (and some pitchers are especially good about it). It depends on the defense behind him, and luck.
So when you’re looking at a pitcher’s line, consider his BABIP. If it’s significantly lower than .300, he’s getting lucky (line drives smashed right at fielders, etc.) and if it’s significantly higher than .300, he’s getting unlucky (lot of bloop hits falling in between the fielders, or a bad defense behind him, etc.). If it’s low, you can expect a stat like ERA to go up when his BABIP inevitably regresses towards .300, and if it’s high, you can expect it to go down when it regresses.
There are a lot of other ways of neutralizing pitching and hitting stats but that’s one basic one, for starters.

Thanks for the explanation. I still don’t see how you can assume that a hard hit ball is supposed to land for a hit, and a blooper is supposed to be caught.

Well you do it by looking at the league averages. In 2009, 72.4% of line drives have fallen for hits. This makes sense if you think about it. For a line drive to not fall for a hit, it has to be hit right at a fielder, like dead on. And that’s unlucky for the batter right? A hitter can try to pull a ball or hit an outside pitch the other way, but he can’t aim it away from the fielders.
Along the same lines, fly balls fell for hits 13.8% of the time. And for a fly ball to fall for a hit, it needs to be a little bloop that drops in, or just some kind of poorly hit pitch that falls between the fielders. And that’s unlucky for the pitcher. Groundballs are hits 23.7% of the time.
And the thing is, these percentages don’t change from year to year. They’re consistent, because that’s just the thing with hit types in the major leagues – they have a certain probability of being a hit, and when an elite fielder makes an incredible catch or a smoked line drive is shot right at a fielder to defy those probabilities, we can’t fault the pitcher for that.
So if a BABIP is significantly different from what a pitcher has done in the past, and he hasn’t altered the ratio of hit types he’s allowed, you can say he’s getting lucky/unlucky. If he’s giving up a ton more line drives and his BABIP is way up, then you can say he’s having some kind of problem which is causing hitters to crush the ball off of him, and the BABIP rise is not due to luck.

erichh: C’mon, man. It’s 2009. Can we stop talking about such nonsense as luck? You’re either good enough or not. Luck is what losers use as an excuse. Let’s not be losers.

I really can’t relate to you people if you’re going to use such nonsense as luck to explain how pitchers win or lose. You’re going to have to improve your communications skills or get smarter.

I mean, did you read what I wrote? What part of it do you take issue with it?

Follow-up question: When you lose a coin flip do you think to yourself “well, I guess I just didn’t put out a good enough effort.”

I read it and my head spun. Do you consider Jim Palmer lucky, Tony Gwynn, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Bob Gibson lucky? I take issue with the word luck. It’s a ridiculous notion. Coin flips? They’re either heads or tails right? What is luck? It’s what losers use as an excuse when they call heads and it comes up tails.

I don’t put my life’s circumstances in the realm of luck. Great players are consistently great and it has nothing to do with luck. Stop thinking like someone from the 16th century. They’re called averages for a reason. Ground balls are hits because there aren’t 50 fielders. There are 4. Luck has nothing to do with it. You said it yourself, they’re consistent, just like Gwynn, Cobb, Rose and the rest of them. They could play the game. If luck had more to do with it, guys like So Taguchi would be in the Hall of Fame. There is a reason they’re not, and it has nothing to do with luck.

Those are all players, hall of famers, of the past. You can’t look at a guy like Bob Gibson and say “oh, he was just lucky,” but you can say that luck played a factor in their careers. Bob Gibson would tell you that there were seasons where his luck was just ******, and seasons where it was good.
In fact, just as an example, in 1968 Gibson had a BABIP of .234, significantly lower than his career average. And look at what happened, he posted an ERA of 1.12, won the Cy Young and an MVP. Do I mean to say that was all thanks to luck? No, of course not. But he had some help from luck. If his BABIP was his career average, if a few more of those hard line drives evaded the fielder, if a few less incredible plays were made by his defense, his ERA would have been higher.
He probably still would’ve won the Cy Young and MVP, because he was an amazing pitcher in the “three true outcomes” department – those results that are entirely within a pitcher’s control and only his: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. He got a lot of the 1st, few of the 2nd, and few of the 3rd. You’ll find this is the case with all of the classic talents you’ve listed, because they have enough skill that their luckiness or unluckiness doesn’t significantly distort their true value.
I guess one way to ask this is this: do you a pitcher can throw in a way that can alter the amount of his line drives that are hit directly at fielders? How would he do this? Do you think a hitter can place his bloops to avoid fielders? Do you think if a pitcher had Endy Chavez in left field the whole season, the same amount of the balls put in play against him would become hits as if his left fielder was Manny Ramirez?

And no, So Taguchi could never be a hall of famer, because the probability of someone getting lucky enough to put up hall of fame numbers for the amount of seasons it takes to even merit hall of fame consideration is astronomically minute.

Seneca, that great Phillies fan from about 25 AD, described luck as the point where preparation meets opportunity. The Phillies are prepared and the opportunity is before them.The Dodgers are not going to know what hits them.

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