When you’ve got three starting pitchers that arguably could all be aces on a pitching staff, does it really matter who starts which game. Actually, if you dig into some numbers, it could make a difference in who starts when, especially with the current playoff set-up.
There is a great advantage to having home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Of course, the advantage of simply playing at home is an advantage, especially since the Phillies were 54-30 at home this season (remember, they had three extra “home” games for their series with Toronto.) Add to that the euphoria that is Citizens Bank Park and you truly do have an advantage as the Phillies.
One other advantage was that the Phillies could pick their playoff schedule and they chose the eight day schedule that would allow them to showcase just their top three starters. Actually, it may turn out that it also benefits Cincinnati, whose relievers had a day off yesterday rather than having to come right back to work.
Also, you can judge exactly where your pitchers would start. For instance, you know that the first two starters – if everything stays the way it is in the rotation – will both be pitching at home in every post-season start.
With Roy Oswalt, that is a decided advantage. After being acquired by the Phillies from Houston, the now 33 year-old right-hander, went 5-0 in six starts with a puny ERA of 1.76 for the Phillies. In his career, Oswalt is 9-0 with a 2.10 ERA in ten starts at The Bank. It’s also worth mentioning that Oswalt is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 34 games against Cincinnati, having faced them a bunch while he was with Houston. By far, Oswalt has more wins against Cincinnati than any other team in baseball, with Pittsburgh – 15 wins – being a distant second.
In his career, Roy Halladay has also pitched well at Citizens Bank Park, going 12-5 with a 2.17 ERA in 19 games, and he too will pitch all of his post-season games at the home park.
Of course, Cole Hamels has pitched the most at CBP (74 games) and is 34-23, 3.36 in his career when he takes to the mound at home. Hamels, who will pitch in Cincinnati on Sunday, has a slightly higher 3.71 ERA outside of the Philadelphia city limits in his career, but is still very effective. Coincidentally, Hamels made his major league debut in Cincinnati on May 12, 2006, allowing just one hit over five innings, while walking five and striking out seven.
Again, with three aces, it’s tough to screw up the post-season rotation, but having Oswalt pitch at home, where he is decidedly more comfortable, makes a lot of sense. Oswalt won’t have as much momentum from Halladay’s no-hitter as he would have had game two been played on Thursday, but rest assured that there will still be plenty of excitement when Oswalt takes the mound.
Around the playoffs: Brooks Conrad’s defense continues to hurt the Braves. Conrad, who made two critical errors in the final series of the season against the Phillies, made another at second base in game two of the Giants/Braves match-up. Outfielder Rick Ankiel made another as the Braves lost to the Giants 1-0 and trail that series 2-0.
Both American League series at 2-0. Texas is looking like a juggernaut in their series with Tampa Bay and the Yankees have been able to do enough to beat Minnesota in each of their first two games. Texas and New York now return home to continue their series, starting on Saturday.