A Real Head-Scratcher

The Phillies set their NLCS roster and starting rotation, and just about everything is the same, except:

  • Chan Ho Park is in
  • Brett Myers is out
  • Eric Bruntlett is in
  • Kyle Kendrick is out

I can understand adding Chan Ho Park to the roster, and I can understand taking Kyle Kendrick off, but why — why?! — is Bruntlett on the roster and Myers is off?

Considering that Miguel Cairo is still on the roster — a spot he earned with his performance at the end of the regular season — there is no need for Eric Bruntlett, a lite-version of Cairo, if you will. The Dodgers are also lefty-heavy with Clayton Kershaw, Randy Wolf, Hong-Chih Kuo, and George Sherrill. Bruntlett has hit for a .648 OPS this season and .738 over his career.

John Mayberry, meanwhile, had an .831 OPS in limited playing time this season and .849 over his Minor League career. Mayberry has also contributed half as many runs on the basepaths as Bruntlett, who has had more than twice as many total base running opportunities, according to Baseball Prospectus. There is absolutely no reason why Eric Bruntlett should be on the NLCS roster.

Furthermore, the Dodgers’ offense is righty-heavy. Three of their top-four hitters, in terms of OPS, are right-handed. Why not use Cole Hamels, Pedro Martinez, Joe Blanton, and Cliff Lee in the starting rotation, and send J.A. Happ to the pen? As a result, the Phillies could leave Antonio Bastardo off and Brett Myers on the NLCS roster, leaving them still with two lefty-specialists, and five — instead of four — right-handers in the bullpen.

The current formation essentially means that the Phillies will use Happ as a starter and Joe Blanton will likely move to the bullpen. As for Chan Ho Park, the Phillies will be relying heavily on him despite not knowing, truly, what they will be able to get out of him.

At any rate, Myers being left off the NLCS roster likely closes out his career in Philadelphia. I can’t imagine he took the news well, and the Phillies wouldn’t leave him off the roster if they intended on bringing him back next season.

NLCS Pitcher Scouting Reports

Folks, your prize fighters for the NLCS have been announced! Lyoto Machida will take on Shogun Rua Cole Hamels will take on Clayton Kershaw in Game One, and Pedro Martinez will oppose Vicente Padilla in Game Two. The Dodgers have scheduled Hiroki Kuroda for Three and Randy Wolf for Four. The Phillies, meanwhile, will play it by ear.

On Tuesday, you met the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now it’s time to meet the Dodger pitchers specifically.

The following charts show how well each Phillie hits each type of pitch.

The metric of choice is run value per 100 pitches. Chase Utley, for instance, has a 1.54 run value for the fastball. That means, for every 100 fastballs Utley sees, he will produce 1.54 runs above average. He has seen 2,845 pitches and 60.6% of them have been fastballs, or a sum total of 1,724 fastballs. Divide 1,724 by 100, and divide 17.24 by his 1.54 run value, and we find that he has produced over 11 runs above average this season against the fastball. Approximately ten runs translates into a win, so Utley’s production against the fastball alone has added about one win for the Phillies.

Meet Clayton Kershaw:

Kershaw vs. the Phillies’ lineup:

  • Rollins: .697 OPS in 12 PA
  • Victorino: .250 OPS in 8 PA
  • Utley: 1.117 OPS (1 HR) in 12 PA
  • Howard: .583 OPS in 12 PA
  • Werth: .664 OPS in 11 PA
  • Ibanez: 1.300 OPS (2 doubles) in 6 PA
  • Feliz: 1.417 OPS in 6 PA
  • Ruiz: .500 OPS in 4 PA

Meet Vicente Padilla:

Padilla vs. the Phillies’ lineup:

  • Rollins: 1.000 OPS (1 triple) in 4 PA
  • Victorino: .000 OPS in 3 PA
  • Utley: 1.666 OPS (1 HR) in 3 PA
  • Howard: 2.667 OPS (1 HR) in 3 PA
  • Werth: 1.167 OPS in 3 PA
  • Ibanez: .930 OPS (2 HR) in 33 PA
  • Feliz: .444 OPS in 15 PA
  • Ruiz: No experience

Meet Hiroki Kuroda:

Kuroda vs. the Phillies’ lineup:

  • Rollins: .000 OPS in 6 PA
  • Victorino: .167 OPS in 6 PA
  • Utley: .873 OPS (1 double) in 9 PA
  • Howard: .000 OPS in 9 PA
  • Werth: .804 OPS (1 double) in 8 PA
  • Ibanez: .000 OPS in 2 PA
  • Feliz: 1.000 OPS in 2 PA
  • Ruiz: .500 OPS in 4 PA

Meet Randy Wolf:

Wolf against the Phillies’ lineup:

  • Rollins: 1.500 OPS (1 HR) in 6 PA
  • Victorino: 1.178 OPS (1 double, 1 HR) in 10 PA
  • Utley: .347 OPS in 9 PA
  • Howard: .333 (1 double) OPS in 9 PA
  • Werth: .777 OPS (1 HR) in 12 PA
  • Ibanez: .788 OPS (2 doubles) in 12 PA
  • Feliz: 1.140 OPS (3 HR) in 19 PA
  • Ruiz: 2.250 OPS (2 doubles, 1 HR) in 8 PA

The important match-ups will be the Dodger left-handed starters against the Phillies’ left-handed hitters.

  • Kershaw, in a small sample, has kept only Howard quiet; Utley and Ibanez have enjoyed success against him.
  • Wolf, in a small sample, has dominated Utley and Howard and kept Ibanez in the ballpark.

On a more depressing note, Kuroda has absolutely dominated the Phillies in his brief career. Utley and Feliz are the only two who have hit him. Including the playoffs, the two have hit for a respective OPS of 1.046 and 1.000. The next-highest is Werth at .633. Kuroda also has an impressive 3.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio against the Phils.

Lastly, here’s each player’s key pitch that they need to have working in order to succeed against the Phillies:

  • Kershaw: The Phillies hit the curveball the worst among the four pitches he throws. They are also a below-average team against the change-up, but the risk-reward with the curveball is much better than with the change, which Kershaw does not utilize often.
  • Padilla: He throws his slider and curve about equally, but the Phillies hit the curveball much worse than the slider, particularly the middle of the lineup, which owns Padilla.
  • Kuroda: Kuroda has been Cy Young-esque against the Phillies, but he’ll still need to make sure his sinking fastball does a good job of darting downward. During the regular season, the Phillies grounded into the fewest double plays among National League teams. Kuroda inducing one or two could make or break Game Three. If I’m looking at betting odds, I’d take the under on Kuroda giving up 3 runs.
  • Wolf: The top of the Phillies’ lineup has seen the ball well against him, and neither Rollins nor Victorino has hit the curveball effectively.