NLCS Coverage: Can the Incumbents Clinch in Philly?

With a win in Game Five of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) on Wednesday, the defending World Champions have an opportunity to return to the Fall Classic. Up three games to one, the Phillies club will hand the ball to young lefty Cole Hamels. The southpaw was hit hard in his first start against LA in the series (8 hits, 5 line drives, 4 run in 5.1 innings), but he kept his team in the game and recorded the victory.

Los Angeles will counter with Vicente Padilla, who pitched 7.1 innings on Oct. 18 and allowed just one run. Padilla threw an economical 95 pitches (73% for strikes) and allowed just one run. As a result of the short rest for the right-hander, the Dodgers club may have to use the bullpen heavily on Wednesday. Manager Joe Torre has used four relievers in each of the past two games (over a three-day span). Regardless, everyone should be fresh and ready to go, with the possible exception of Chad Billingsley.

The key post-season performers (eight games) for Philadelphia have been:
Ryan Howard: 14 RBI, 379 AVG (1.18 WPA)
Jayson Werth: 6 BB, 3 HR, 7 R (0.10 WPA)
Carlos Ruiz: .391 AVG, 6 BB, 7 RBI (0.32 WPA)
Chase Utley: .472 OBA, 7 runs, 2 SB (0.42 WPA)
Shane Victorino: .344 AVG, .625 SLG, 7 R (-0.19 WPA)
Raul Ibanez: 8 RBI (0.20 WPA)

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the only player who has consistently risen to the occasion in fall ball is outfielder Andre Ethier (0.49 WPA), who is currently hitting .333/.419/.741 in seven games and is leading the club in runs scored, RBI, and is tied for the lead in both doubles and homers. Veteran outfielder Manny Ramirez has been the team’s second best hitter, but his line is just .276/.300/.483. More importantly, he has just four RBI in seven games.

Unless the offense suddenly wakes up, Los Angeles will need another dominating performance out of Padilla, who has not pitched on short rest at all this season – and he’s gone seven innings or more in three straight games just once this season (in May).

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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It’s not actually on short rest. He moved ahead of Kershaw in the rotation, but he last pitched on the 16. That would leave 4 days of rest between that start and today.