NLCS Coverage: Phillies in the Driver’s Seat

If you missed the game last night, this pretty much says it all.


The Philadelphia Phillies club took advantage of a Los Angeles starter who was clearly rusty after being activated off the disabled list prior to the start of the National League Championship Series (NLCS). Hiroki Kuroda allowed six runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings of work, for a WPA of -.334. Starter-turned-playoff-reliever Chad Billingsley offered some relief with 3.1 innings of work, but his recent inactivity (it was the first time he’d pitched since Sept. 29) eventually caught up with him.

On the flip side, Phillies starter Cliff Lee (.153 WPA) was magnificent yet again. He pitched eight shutout innings with just three hits allowed. He struck out 10 Dodgers hitters without allowing a walk. Lee also induced nine ground-ball outs (plus five fly balls and two line drives).

This is Mr. October, Cliff Lee:
Oct. 7 – 9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0-5 BB-K, 37.0 GB%, .397 WPA
Oct. 12 – 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3-5 BB-K, 32.0 GB%, .307 WPA
Oct. 18 – 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0-10 BB-K, 56.0 GB%, .153 WPA

Last night, first baseman Ryan Howard was the Phillies best hitter… again. He drove in three runs and posted a WPA of .155. Outfielder Shane Victorino (.045 WPA) had a good night as well, with three RBI, two runs scored and two hits, including a homer. Catcher Carlos Ruiz (.028) continued his hot hitting with two base knocks. He also scored two runs and drove in one. Outfielder Jayson Werth posted the second highest WPA at .074 and drove in two runs.

Game Four is tonight in Philadelphia with the home team up 2-1 in the NLCS. The Phillies organization will look to take a stranglehold on the series with Joe Blanton on the hill against Randy Wolf. Blanton has made two appearances in the 2009 playoffs so far – and both came out of the bullpen. In 3.2 innings, he’s allowed two runs on four hits and has a 43% ground-ball rate. Blanton struggled with his fastball (-0.80 wFB/C) command during the regular season, but he’ll look to establish the heater well enough to set up his changeup (1.95 wCH/C) and slider (1.22 wSL/C).

Wolf will be looking to bounce back from a poor outing against St. Louis on Oct. 7, his only appearance in the series so far. The left-hander allowed two runs in 3.2 innings. He allowed six hits and five walks. Although it averages out at just 89 mph, Wolf has an effective fastball (1.47 wFB/C) that he backs up with a good curveball (1.66 wCB/C). He also mixes in a slider and changeup.

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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13 years ago

Looks like no real edge for either team’s starter. However, Dodgers can’t hit right now and Phillies slept in their own beds last night. Advantage Phillies?