Personal history and numbers don't always guide on-field performance, but they can give us a quick insight into who carries the advantage -- if ever so slight -- into a particular game. Tale O' Tape breaks down the starting pitchers to find an edge.
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We'll shorten the category list since neither team has faced each other much and just hit what means something for the World Series. Great matchup on tap tonight ... you'll see what I mean.Scott Kazmir
Home Splits - Scott Kazmir went 8-2 with a 2.90 ERA at home this season. The downside is that he only averaged 5 2/3 innings per start at home, due to large pitch counts. The pitch counts resulted from 80 strikeouts and 45 walks in only 77 2/3 innings pitched. Considering he gives up many less hits, home runs, and total runs at home than on the road, it would behoove Kazmir to work efficient innings by letting his defense do the work.
Relevant Background - He faced the Phillies once in his career, but it wasn't this year ... so I don't think it matters much. I actually hate it when people give franchise stats -- "John Smith beat threw two shutouts against the Phillies back in 1996." So what? None of the same players are around. Speaking of the players ...
There is such a small sample size here that no conclusions can be drawn. Ryan Howard and So Taguchi have faced him three times, Jimmy Rollins twice, and Pat Burrell once. Only two singled emerged from those nine at-bats, but it's too small to draw any conclusion.
Kazmir is much harder on lefties (.514 OPS compared to .714 OPS against righties), and two of the Phillies big boppers are left-handed in Howard and Chase Utley.Cole Hamels
Road Splits - Cole Hamels is a slightly worse pitcher on the road, compiling a 3.19 ERA in 110 innings this year. He did have a ton more strikeouts, a better record, and a similar WHIP. His opponents OPS is actually worse on the road (meaning he's better in that category at home).
Relevant Background - A true ace in every sense, his regular season record should have been more like 18-6 if you look at the rest of the numbers. Having owned him in fantasy I can tell you there was more than one occasion where he deserved the win and either received no run support of the bullpen blew his "win." Man, I love that stat, let me tell you. He's also carried over his ace-hood into the playoffs, with a microscopic 1.23 ERA in 22 innings. He does, finally, have three wins to show for the three studly outings.
Hamels faced the Rays once, but it wasn't this year.
Much like Kazmir, Hamels has faced five members of the Rays ... no one more than three times. Carl Crawford is 2-3 with a double. Again, though ... really small sample.Edge
The edge in this game is purely conjecture at this point, what with little history on either side. I've often stated that the advantage sits with good pitching over good hitting when the players have never squared off. With this in mind, the only real thing we have from which to draw a reasonable conclusion are the home/road splits ... and that's a virtual wash.
I'm actually going to call this one for Hamels and Phillies ... based simply upon the principle that aces win the postseason, and we're seeing the promotion of Hamels as a bonafide elite starter.