Three Up, Three Down: Reasons the Phillies Will Win (Or Lose) Today

In the wacky world of the five game series, no matter how confident you might feel, there's always room for worry.  Here are three reasons to be confident, followed by three reasons to worry.

Three up:

1) Cole Hamels in St. Louis:  Hamels has been outstanding in his career in St. Louis.  Sure, he's only 1-1 and has a 3.00 ERA, but we know that records are meaningless for pitchers and that ERAs can be deceptive.  Here, we see that as his underlying numbers show dominance.  Over 103 plate appearances, Hamels has held the Cardinals to a .530 OPS in St. Louis, the fourth lowest OPS against for a team in their home stadium against Cole (Hamels has dominated the Dodgers, Pirates, and Padres even more).  Hamels has struck out 29 and walked only 6, good for a 4.8 K/B ratio.  He has allowed 0.93 base runners per inning.  That's dominance.

2) The Phillies hit well in Busch Stadium (2):  The Phillies have played 26 games at the new Busch stadium and have won 15 of them.  Over that time, the team has hit well with an overall .264/.343/.429 triple slash line.  They've averaged 5.5 runs per game there as well, including 5 double-digit runs games (10, 10, 13, 16, and 20(!)).  This is not a park that flummoxes this team.

3) The Phillies have hit lefties better than you'd think this year: By the way most commentators describe the team, the Phillies are horrible against lefties.  But, that's just not true.  The NL average OPS against left-handed pitchers is .712.  The Phillies as a team have a .701 OPS against lefties.  It's below average, but not drastically so.  Moreover, it's only 22 points lower than the Phillies hit righties this year (.723).  Over 35 or so plate appearances (a game's worth), that's not much of a noticeable difference.

Three down:

1) Jaime Garcia:  It's hard to overstate how dominant Garcia has been against the Phillies in his career.  Over 114 plate appearances, Garcia has been even better against the Phillies than Hamels has been against the Cardinals in St. Louis.  He has held the Phillies to a .178/.254/.248 triple-slash line, allowing only 18 hits.  Amazingly, he's been even better against the Phillies righties than lefties, with a .489 OPS against the Phillies righties and a .544 OPS against the Phillies lefties.  In his 6 games against the Phillies, he has never pitched without the game being tied or the Cardinals leading the Phils.

2) The Cardinals are excellent against lefties this year:  Whereas the Phillies are not as bad as you might think against lefties, the Cardinals are downright excellent.  Their .768 OPS against lefties was the second-highest OPS in the NL this year against left-handed pitching, trailing only the Reds (.794).  The saving grace for the Phillies, if you want to call it that, is that this isn't much of a difference than they are against righties, as they posted a team .765 OPS against righties this year.

3) The Phillies have not been good at Busch (2) recently:  Despite the fact that the Phillies have hit well and won more than they have lost at the new Busch stadium, recently they've struggled.  In 2010 and 2011, the Phillies have gone 3-6 in St. Louis.  They've averaged only 2.9 runs per game, and that's with a 10-run game in the mix.  Their team triple-slash line is a pretty terrible .234/.294/.333.

What tonight's game boils down to is that it has all the makings of an incredible pitchers' duel.  Therefore, given that this is baseball, I predict a 15-12 Phillies win . . . in 12 innings.

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