The 2011 Phillies did exactly what they were expected to do during the regular season. They finished the season with a franchise record 102 wins, have home field advantage throughout the entire post season and entire the playoffs as the prohibited favorite to win the World Series. Later today the race toward 11 wins starts as American League games begin and the National League games will get underway tomorrow. The Phillies helped their opponent by knocking out the Atlanta Braves on the final night of the season. This will force them to take on one of the hottest team in baseball the St. Louis Cardinals.
Many people in and around Philadelphia didn’t want to face the Cardinals and would have rather faced the young and inexperienced Diamondbacks. Some have tried to make the Cardinals out to be some great mystical team that will send the best team in baseball home. Many have said this will be the Phillies hardest test in the division round during their recent run. But this team reminds me a lot of the Reds team that the Phillies swept last season.
Like the Reds last season, the Cardinals led the NL in runs and were led by their slugging 1st baseman. Chris Carpenter is still a good pitcher but he is not the same pitcher he was a few seasons ago when he was among the top in the game. The Cardinals are a good team; they wouldn’t have made the postseason if they aren’t, but if the Phillies play their game. They shouldn’t have any problem handling the 2011 NL Wild Card winner. Like the saying goes, good pitching beats good hitting.
Saturday October 1, 5:07: RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Kyle Lohse
Last October many people weren’t sure how the best pitcher in baseball would respond to the pressures of playoff baseball. Doc responded on throw the 2nd no hitter in the history of the postseason. He finished the postseason going 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA but the one loss in the NLCS has left a bitter taste in his mouth. The reigning NL Cy Young winner may have put together his best season as a pro. Despite winning “just” 19 games, he set a career high with a 2.35 ERA and 220 strikeouts. He was even better when he pitched in front of the hometown crowd in the “band box” that many say the Bank is. He went 12-5 with a 2.21 ERA at home this season.
Halladay has made just 4 starts against the Cardinals during his career, in those starts he was 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. Two of those starts came this season as he went just 0-1 with a 3.21 ERA in those games. Over the last 5 seasons current Cardinals hitters are 22-71 (.310) while facing Halladay. But 12 of those hits came from backups Gerald Laird and Corey Patterson.
The Cardinals were forced to send their best pitcher Chris Carpenter to the hill in a must win game on Wednesday night, so they are forced to give former Phillie Kyle Lohse the ball in game one. The 32 year old righty had a 4.72 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) for the Phillies in 2007 after being acquired from the Reds at the deadline. The Phillies offered him a contract but he elected to take more money and go to the Cardinals.
This season Lohse has quietly put together his best season as a pro. He went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. In his 16 road starts, he went 8-3 with a 3.13 ERA. This is a lot better than his career 4.64 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. He has pitched in 6 postseason games but has made just 1 starts. In those games he is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA. His only postseason start came way back in 2004 against the Yankees; the then 24 year old went 5 innings and gave up 3 runs while picking up the loss. Lohse has made 10 career starts versus the Phillies, in those games he is 3-4 with a 3.43 ERA. In 10 career games (9 starts) at Citizens Bank Park, he is 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA. Over the last 5 seasons current Phillies hitters are 44-151 (.291) while facing Lohse. The Phillies projected lineup for tomorrow is 39-131 (.298) against him over the last 5 seasons.
Game Prediction: Phillies 4 Cardinals 1