Expect ace performance from Hamels in NLCS Game 5

Updated: October 20, 2009

Howard Smith/US Presswire

If Cole Hamels pitches like he did in last year's playoffs, the Phillies will close out the series Wednesday.

The Philadelphia Phillies' miraculous win Monday sets up a potential Game 5 series clincher Wednesday as they hold a commanding 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best-of-seven series.


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Vicente Padilla will be the starting pitcher for the Dodgers, and Cole Hamels will lead things off for the Phillies. This matchup strongly favors Hamels; he will be a big obstacle for Los Angeles. Look for him to make a strong start out of the gate. He's a guy who has pride, and he's pitching at home. However, he hasn't fared well at home this postseason, losing his only start in Philadelphia in the National League Division Series. That's a turnaround from his dominating postseason in 2008, when he was 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA at Citizens Bank Park.

Hamels is primed to excel. With an opportunity to clinch the series, he can re-emerge as the top guy.

Obviously, Cliff Lee has proved he is the man for the Phillies right now, but when Hamels is doing well, he's capable of being No. 1, too. If he's able to turn things up, it could give the Phillies two No. 1 guys. Hamels has been hot and cold this year, finishing with a 10-11 record and a 4.32 ERA. It's been quite a roller-coaster ride. However, if he can be more consistent from here on out, the Phillies won't have to worry about facing the Dodgers for another game.

The key for the Dodgers to avoid elimination in Game 5 is Padilla. He's been good in the postseason, and he pitched great against the Cardinals. Remember, Padilla is a former Phillie, so expect the fans to give him a less-than-amicable welcome. He'll need to be solid, especially with the Dodgers having had some short outings from some of their starters lately and the bullpen getting more work. He definitely will need to keep the ball down and rely on his sinker. He tends to cut the ball a little bit, too. Good action through the zone will be the difference-maker.

Dodgers Nation might still have a bad taste in its mouth from Jonathan Broxton's failure to close out Game 4, but don't give up on the youngster just yet. Although many are calling for a new closer, manager Joe Torre is not at the point of changing things up. Broxton has held his own as the Dodgers' closer this year. He just had a bad outing.

One person who won't have a bad outing Wednesday is Hamels. Game 5 will be a thriller, but with a 3-1 advantage, the Phillies should close this one out and earn their second consecutive NL pennant.

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The Comeback Kids are at it again in the NLCS, as the Phillies take a 3-1 lead into Wednesday's Game 5 in Philadelphia. Philadelphia led the NL in comeback wins in the regular season, so the Phillies have had plenty of success when the pressure is on.

The difference between the Phillies and Dodgers so far has been their work with runners in scoring position.

Phillies and Dodgers: With runners in scoring position in NLCS
BA .423 .207
Slug pct. 1.077 .310
Chase pct. 19.3 28.4
Miss pct. 21.2 29.0

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Jimmy Rollins, the Game 4 hero, has been called a "red-light player" by his manager, but that seems to be the case with everybody in the lineup. In this series, without runners in scoring position, the Phillies are hitting just .172 and slugging just .283, with 20 strikeouts and only 14 walks.


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Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at some key numbers for both teams in the NLCS heading into Game 5.

Phillies vs. Dodgers: 2009 NLCS
Phillies Dodgers
BA .224 .233
XBH 13 5
Triples 3 0
Walks 19 9
WHIP 1.11 1.36


Alex Rodriguez• It's hard to decide between Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, who dominated the Angels for the second straight time. But A-Rod has turned the ALCS into his own personal playground. He homered for the third straight game and added a double, a single and three runs scored in the Yankees' 10-1 Game 4 rout.
Scott KazmirScott Kazmir had a strong history against the Yankees from his old AL East days with the Tampa Bay Rays, and he hoped to continue the momentum from the Angels' thrilling victory in Game 3. That past experience didn't serve him well in Game 4; he lasted only four-plus innings, giving up four runs on six hits and walking four.



Each night throughout the postseason, "Baseball Tonight" will remember some of the postseason's best pitching performances.

Schilling Oct. 21, 1993 -- Curt Schilling pitches a five-hit shutout as the Phillies stay alive in the World Series with a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays in Game 5. Schilling entered 2009 as the only starter in Phillies history to pitch a shutout in a postseason game.