Brewers @ Phillies: It will be Cole Hamels going for Philadelphia against Yovani Gallardo for Milwaukee.
This season, Hamels was 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA. Those are good numbers, but if you are a baseball fan, you'd know Hamels could've easily won 18,19 or quite possibly 20 and there is no way he deserved ten losses.
Gallardo can be an incredible pitcher when he is healthy. This will be a tough spot for Gallardo, a prospect who has never pitched a full season. He was 0-0 with a 1.88 ERA before leaving his 3rd start. I think the Phillies easily take this one. They have had two straight MVP's (Ryan Howard in 2006, Jimmy Rollins in 2007) and maybe Howard again this year. Also, they have a clear pitching match up advantage. They have a clear advantage in almost everything else. They have more speed, they have a leading RBI and homer man in Howard and the most powerful 2nd basemen in Chase Utley. Gallardo won't want to fall behind Howard. When Howard has the count in his favor, he has a 1.301 OPS.
Look for Jayson Werth to come up big. Despite hitting .167 in September, all three of his home runs came in one run games. But don't expect him to do it tonight. He is 0-3 with 2 strikeouts against Gallardo, a hard throwing young man.
Dodgers @ Cubs: I think with Manny Ramirez now in the middle of the lineup, the Dodgers have a reasonable shot of winning. However, they will be facing a nearly un hittable guy at home in Ryan Dempster.
At home, Dempster is 14-3 with a 2.86 ERA. He was just 3-3 on the road. He will want to use his change-up and splitter. When he uses it, his opponents have a measly .677 OPS. Also, he'll need to pound the strike zone. When he has two strikes, opponents have a measly .107 well hit average, compared to .186 being the league average. His counterpart will be former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe. This year, Lowe has 14 wins, 11 losses and a 3.24 ERA. Lowe will need to use his breaking ball, which is his best pitch. Hitters have just a .116 well hit average against it. He'll also need to pound the lower part of the zone. When he does, opponents have a .533 OPS. He also held the Cubs to a .402 OPS on strikes at the knees this year.
The one advantage Lowe has is the leadoff man Alfonso Soriano, who has a .259 on base percentage against Lowe. Despite that, the Cubs will win. When was the last time Dempster lost at home? Also, Jim Edmonds and Aramis Ramirez match up well against Lowe.
Red Sox @ Angels: The Boston Red Sox will take on the Los Angeles Angels tonight in Anaheim. Jon Lester (16-6) will take on John Lackey (12-5).
Lester will need to use his fastball. Despite it not being very dominant, batters only havea a .218 batting average against it. Despite a shaky .256 opponent batting average for the year. 20% of his punchouts come with runners on and he only allows 25% of men in runners in scoring position to score.
Lackey needs to use his curve. Batters strike 14.8% of the time against it, a .148 batting average. Hitters miss 36% of the time on Lackey's two strike hooks. Interestingly enough, 87% of Lackey's punchouts take five or more pitches to complete, so I don't expect him to a) strike out a lot of guys or b) last more than seven innings.
This could be a huge turning point in Mark Teixeira's career. In his first six seasons in Major League Baseball, he hasn't been to the playoffs. He has played with Texas and Atlanta. This year, he got traded to the Angels, the best team in baseball. Since joining the Halos, he is hitting .358.
The Angels have a huge advantage because starters for the Sox such as Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Varitek struggle heavily against Lackey. Ellsbury is 0-for-6 with 2 K's against him and Varitek has a 1-for-10 well-hit average. The Angels who match up badly against Lester are Chone Figgins, Jeff Mathis and Sean Rodriguez. Only Figgins is a regular starter.