Baseball Prospectus has a formula called Secret Sauce that they use to predict who will play in the World Series. The formula focuses in on three criteria: 1. Pitchers that strike out batters. 2. A stud closer. 3. A good defense.
Here’s how SI’s John Donovan describes the formula:
The “Secret Sauce,” as BP call its concoction, has worked out pretty well over the years by bypassing some of the more common stats and digging deeper. The Sauce not only takes into account a pitching staff’s strikeout rates, for example, but it adjusts that number based on league differential and ballpark factors.
The Phillies and Red Sox, for what it’s worth, have the highest secret sauce rankings among National League and American League teams, respectively (though it’s worth noting that there were several American League teams with better Sauce scores than Philadelphia). Moreover, the Phils have two pitchers in the top 30 in the majors in K/9. Both Hamels and Myers average almost 8 strikeouts per nine innings. Jamie Moyer averages 5.64 K/9. Blanton averages a shade over 5.
If the Dodgers are going to beat the Phillies, they are going to have to overcome Philly’s pitching, which has miraculously morphed from a weakenss to a strength seemingly overnight. Specifically, they’ll have to:
1. Hit home runs off Brett Myers. During the first half of the season, Myers gave up 24 homers in 101 innings. After a brief minor league tour he returned and only gave up five home runs in 88 innings. Myers’ second half resurrection had everything to do with his ability to keep the ball in the park. The Dodgers need to swing for the fences.
2. Make the Phils’ starters throw pitches. That’s how the Brewers beat Jamie Moyer in Game 3. I’m not sure if playoff strike zones are smaller, but it sure seemed that way to Moyer on Saturday. If the Dodgers can get to the Philadelphia bullpen early, they’re golden. The Phils’ bullpen was solid all season, but showed signs of fatigue down the stretch. Chad Gaudin Durbin and Brad Lidge are running on fumes. Lidge, in particular, is building towards his own Mitch Williams moment.
3. Don’t pitch to Utley. He’s so due.
4. Start Clayton Kershaw. He’d be murder on the Phils’ lefty bats.
5. Don’t play Juan Pierre. Ever. Not even a little.