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Dodgers, Phillies continue postseason rivalry
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OffenseThis season, the Phillies paced the NL in runs scored, and the Dodgers finished a respectable fourth. Of course, given the different tendencies of their home parks, raw unadjusted numbers won't do. On the road more of a neutral context, obviously the Dodgers outscored the Phils by a narrow margin of 415 to 412. In terms of park-adjusted OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), the Phillies check in at 8 percent better than the league average, while the Dodgers are 6 percent better than the mean. All of this is to say: What's commonly regarded as a big edge for the Phillies really isn't.
RotationThe Dodgers will probably arrange their rotation like this: Randy Wolf, Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla, Chad Billingsley And the Phils may counter with: Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ/Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton/Martinez Because Philly's series with Colorado went four games, they were forced to start Lee on Monday night. That means Lee won't be available on full rest until Game 3, and that means despite an accommodating schedule (see below), Lee won't be able to make more than two starts in this series. The Dodgers won't mind. Also, as you probably noticed, lefties abound. With that in mind, some numbers ... The Philly attack doesn't particularly care what hand you throw with, but the Dodgers have been significantly albeit not staggeringly more effective against left-handers. So does Charlie Manuel attempt to blunt that advantage by dispatching Happ to the pen and rounding out his rotation with Martinez and Blanton, right-handers both? Given the above numbers, that's a defensible strategy.
BullpenHere's an obvious advantage for L.A. The Dodgers had the best bullpen in baseball during the regular season, and that bullpen acquitted itself quite nicely in the NLDS against St. Louis. Jonathan Broxton is a shutdown closer, lefty George Sherrill has a 0.65 ERA as a National Leaguer, Ramon Troncoso is a groundball machine, Hong-Chih Kuo has been dominant since returning from injury, and Ronald Belisario has been one of the most effective right-handed setup men around. Oh, and there's more where that came from.
DefenseHere's what the most advanced measures say about the two team defenses: Defensive Efficiency: Dodgers (2nd in NL), Phillies (6th in NL) Ultimate Zone Rating: Phillies (3rd), Dodgers (7th)
Plus/Minus System: Dodgers (1st), Phillies (5th) (Defensive Efficiency numbers courtesy of Baseball Prospectus, Ultimate Zone Rating courtesy of FanGraphs and Plus/Minus courtesy of The Hardball Times.) Call it a modest edge for the Dodgers, based on the fact that two of the three metrics favor them. It should be noted, however, that L.A.'s defense is slightly compromised when Ronnie Belliard and not Orlando Hudson is starting at second base. Even so, the nod to L.A.