Tuesday, October 19, 2010
NLCS Game 3 Preview: Phillies at Giants
By John Fisher
A quick preview of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants.
FROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: In a seven game series, teams who win Game 3 after being tied 1-1 are 56-23 to win the series.
The Phillies are 3-7 in AT&T Park since 2008. They hit .175 in three games there this season, losing two of them. But since 2008, the Phils are 9-6 in postseason games on the road.
Cole Hamels will start Game 3 for the Phillies, and his 6.12 ERA in four starts at AT&T Park is his worst in any ballpark that he’s pitched in more than once. However, Hamels is 4-0 in four career postseason road starts with a 2.22 ERA. Hamels is one of four pitchers in postseason history to win his first four postseason road starts from the start of his career, joining Lefty Gomez, Bob Gibson, and Kevin Brown.
In two starts against the Giants this season, Hamels has been roughed up for 16 hits and 9 runs in 11 innings (7.36 ERA). The Giants have been aggressive with Hamels, hitting a whopping .706 (12-17) on pitches early in the count. When Hamels gets to two strikes, he’s nearly unhittable: the Giants are just 2-for-25 in two-strike counts.
Giants outfielder Cody Ross will be excited to see Hamels on the mound Tuesday. Ross is 9-30 in his career against Hamels with four home runs. That's his most home runs off of any pitcher and the most home runs Hamels has allowed to any hitter.
Of the 21 pitchers who Ross has faced at least 15 times, his slugging percentage of .733 against Hamels ranks second. The only pitcher he slugs better against is Oliver Perez (.889). And Ross has a history of hitting for power against left-handed pitching. Among active players, with a minimum of 500 plate appearances against lefties, Ross’ .595 slugging percentage is fifth. The players ahead of him: Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Manny Ramirez and David Wright.
Hamels might want to throw his off-speed pitches, especially early in the count, when he faces Ross. All four home runs that Ross has hit off Hamels have come against fastballs, and all have come early in the count. In addition, all three homers that Ross has hit in the NLCS have come against fastballs.
The Giants counter with Matt Cain, who went 6 ⅔ innings allowing zero earned runs, in his postseason debut against the Atlanta Braves. He lost his only start against the Phillies this season, but allowed only two earned runs in six innings. In his career, Cain is 0-3 in five starts against Philadelphia, and his 6.23 ERA is his highest against any team that he’s faced more than once.
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley both have great histories against Cain: Rollins is 6-for-10 and Utley is 7-for-15 with three home runs. In his career, Cain has allowed more homers to just two other hitters. And of the 59 pitchers that Utley has at least 15 at-bats against (including postseason), his .467 BA against Cain is his best against anyone.
With Ted Barrett behind the plate, things don’t get any better for Cain. He’s started once with Barrett calling balls and strikes, walking four, allowing seven hits and three earned runs in four innings.