Game 1 is a match up between two young lefties in Hamels and Kershaw. Clayton Kershaw seems to have been paved the path to becoming the Dodgers ace of the future. Hamels, on the other hand, was certainly the ace of the Phillies rotation but has had to learn how to become the number 2 since Cliff Lee arrived. In last year's NLCS, Hamels was dominant over the Dodgers while Kershaw was taken advantage of out of the 'pen. This year has seemed to change a lot...
Throughout the 2009 season, Kershaw has consistently allowed a low number of runs, but was not given the run support that he needed to win many games - very similar to the plague Hamels received in the '09 regular season. From listening to the pre-practice press conference yesterday, Kershaw seems unfazed by the Phillies potent lineup. He said he is not afraid to attack any hitter in the Phils lineup and that he is the kind of pitcher that does not shy away, but uses all parts of the plate. This should work well for Kershaw since he has only allowed lefties to hit .173 against him this year!
Hamels always talks about how he loves to pitch in California, and he certainly has backed it up against the Dodgers in recent history. It should help Hamels to get back in the "ace" spot of game 1 and also pitch in the LA spotlight. He has only allowed 1 run in 16 innings against the Dodgers this year..
Game 2 is an interesting match up between two veteran pitchers. One pitcher, Pedro, is a first ballot Hall of Famer and the other pitcher, Padilla, has been a so-so 10 year up-and-down pitcher. Surprisingly, both pitchers have performed well in the 2nd half of the '09 season.
Since Padilla's first start for the Dodgers on August 27th, he has gone 4-0 with a 3.20 era. Being a Phillies fan, I hate seeing that these numbers are better than any season he ever had in Philadelphia (best season was 2002 when he was an All-Star, 14-11, 3.28 era). We know he has had "stuff" in the past, and he certainly did against St. Louis when he pitched 7 shutout innings and only allowed 4 hits. The one good thing in the Phillies favor is that lefties hit .303 off of Padilla...Might be a good game for Paul Bako to get his first post-season start and see how he battles - can always go back to Chooch if you need him. In the last post I wrote that I thought Padilla would pitch in game 3...probably a good call by Joe Torre to have him pitch in game 2 so that he does not have to return to the Phillies fans that would surely rip him apart!
The most interesting pitcher for both of these games seems to be Pedro Martinez. He has not pitched yet in this post-season and has not pitched at all since September 30th. When Pedro was picked up by the Phillies numerous baseball analysts condemned the Phillies and said he could not pitch anymore and that he would not be healthy for a post season run even if he made it that far. Well, Pedro is healthy and has pitched very well for the Phillies with a 5-1 record and 3.63 era. This is great news, because Pedro has had great success in the post season and is well known as a "Big Game Pitcher". For his career in the post season, Pedro is 6-2 with a 3.40 era. Colorado's cold weather did not seem to be the right place for Pedro to try to start pitching, but the California temperatures and weather should suit his arm just fine tomorrow. It is 10 years since Pedro dominated baseball in 1999, but this 2nd half of the season has certainly showed he can still pitch. Hopefully this "big game" brings out the best in him again. Let's just hope he doesn't grab Larry Bowa by the head and throw him on the ground..