Matchups working for, against Game 1 starters in NLCS

Updated: October 8, 2008

Derek Lowe, left, and Cole Hamels will try to exploit their matchup advantages Thursday.

PLAYING THE MATCHUP GAME

Who has the edge when it comes to the pitcher-hitter matchups in Game 1 of the NLCS?

NLCS GAME 1

Dodgers at Phillies
8 p.m. ET, ESPN Radio

Well, if the game comes down to Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, or Chase Utley against Derek Lowe, the Phillies should like their chances. Each has had success against Lowe, albeit within a small sampling of at-bats. Ryan Howard, whose struggles against the Dodgers were documented in this space yesterday, will have to perform counter to his numbers against Lowe for the Phillies to have a strong day offensively.

As for the Dodgers, no one has a great deal of experience against left-hander Cole Hamels, but given how much Hamels relied on his changeup against the Brewers, we can acknowledge which Dodgers have the best chance of success. Not surprisingly, that's Manny Ramirez, first and foremost, but that's no surprise, since he hits everything. Some of the Dodgers' younger hitters (Blake DeWitt, Russell Martin, and James Loney) have proven to be overeager against the changeup, and will have to be smart hitters for the Dodgers to perform against the top southpaw in the series.

Game 1 matchups vs. Derek Lowe
ADVANTAGE LOWE H-AB HR ADVANTAGE HITTERS H-AB HR
Ryan Howard 2-18 0 Jimmy Rollins 6-20 0
Matt Stairs 2-15 1 Pat Burrell 6-19 0
Greg Dobbs 0-9 0 Chase Utley 5-14 0

Dodgers Hitters: Notables Vs Changeups in 2008 (Source: Inside Edge)
BA SLG AB
Nomar Garciaparra .435 .913 23
Manny Ramirez .350 .775 40
Rafael Furcal .346 .423 26
James Loney .237 .342 76
Russell Martin .208 .208 48
Blake DeWitt .176 .255 51

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BBTN MINUTE: PICKING THE NLCS

STAT OF THE DAY

Inside EdgeRed Sox catcher Jason Varitek is known to call for the high fastball, especially on two-strike counts. The Rays and Phillies have played that game, too. In fact, Tampa Bay and Philly pitchers elevated more heaters than the Red Sox with two strikes in their Division Series contests. Among the four playoff teams, the Dodgers utilized the upper part of the zone the least with their two-strike fastballs:

Percentage of fastballs to each location
on two-strike counts in playoffs
Pitcher Team Up Middle Down
Rays 52.6 16.8 30.5
Phillies 48.7 26.3 25.0
Red Sox 43.8 20.8 35.4
Dodgers 21.7 14.5 63.8

THIS DATE IN POSTSEASON HISTORY: OCT. 9

1919: The underdog Reds beat the White Sox to win the World Series, but before next season begins eight Chicago players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, will be accused of accepting bribes to purposely throw the games.

1934: In Game 7 of the World Series, Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis makes Cardinals left fielder Joe Medwick leave the field as angry Detroit fans hurl fruit at him after he made an aggressive slide into third base. The Cardinals won both the game -- 11-0 -- and the series.

2005: Chris Burke's 18th-inning home run ends the longest game in postseason history (five hours, 50 minutes) as the Astros beat the Braves 7-6 at Minute Maid Park and advance to the NLCS.