Scouting report: Dodgers-Cubs Game 2

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Inside Edge, a leading baseball scouting and information service, will provide scouting reports to Yahoo! Sports throughout the MLB playoffs. Here’s their breakdown of Game 2 of the 2008 National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs.

INSIDE EDGE BREAKDOWN—DODGERS VS. CUBS

Gotta know this…

Starting Pitchers
 
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Billingsley
   
• In his first full season as a starter, Chad Billingsley struck out 201 batters in 200.2 innings pitched. He ranked fifth in the National League in strikeouts and his 24 percent strikeout percentage (of batters faced) was the sixth best among all hurlers who threw at least 3,300 pitches this year.

   
• Billingsley will go after batters with his fastball on the first pitch and also when he falls behind in the count. Of his first pitch offerings this season, 70 percent were heaters. That number jumped to 81 percent when he fell behind in the count. Billingsley goes to his off-speed stuff much more often with the count in his favor, throwing fastballs just 55 percent of the time.

   
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Zambrano
   
• Zambrano threw a no-hitter against the Astros on September 14. What might come as a surprise is that he was shelled in his other three September starts. In those other three outings, Zambrano allowed 14 hits and had a 12.71 ERA over 11.1 innings of work. Opponents only hit .250 with a .175 well-hit average, but batted .333 with runners on base and .308 with runners in scoring position in those three games..

   
• Big Z is just as vulnerable as most pitchers when he falls too far behind in the count. On 2-0 and 3-0 counts, opponents have a 1.240 OPS against him. In all others, their OPS is .648. Of the 13 batters Zambrano went 3-0 against this season, 12 of them walked.

     
Bullpen
 
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Joe Beimel led Dodgers pitchers in appearances (71) and ERA (2.02) this year. The left-hander did not allow a home run all season and held opponents to a .184 well-hit average. Opposing batters took 371 swings against Beimel this season and had only nine extra base hits..

chc
   
• For Cubs closer Kerry Wood, September was a very up-and-down month. In his first five appearances of the month, Wood lost twice and blew one save. Opponents hit .414 with a 1.228 OPS against him and put the ball in play on 34 percent of their swings. Over his last five appearances of the season, however, Wood had a win and three saves; opponents hit .111 with a .325 OPS, and put just 28 percent of their swings in play against him..

 
Hitters
 

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Edmonds

   
Jim Edmonds was the best changeup hitter in baseball this season and it wasn’t even close. He led all batters with a .471 average against changeups, 61 points higher than the next best changeup hitter (B.J. Upton). Edmonds was also the only batter with a slugging percentage of 1.000 against changeups; the next closest batter was Magglio Ordonez at .827.

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Ramirez
   
• There weren’t many better hitters with two strikes this season than the Cubs Aramis Ramirez. His 81 hits with two strikes were the most in the National League and third most in the majors. In addition, Ramirez’s .802 OPS with two strikes on him was the best in baseball this season.

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Ramirez
   
Manny Ramirez is a machine with runners in scoring position. His .413 batting average with RISP was the second best in the baseball behind Joe Mauer’s .420, and his 1.126 OPS with RISP tied for second with former teammate David Ortiz behind Albert Pujols at 1.198.

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Kemp
   
• Outfielder Matt Kemp has been on a bit of a tear the last two weeks of the season. Since September 16, he is batting .364 with a OPS of .985. Compare that to his season-long average of .290 and OPS of .799. He has done particularly well against fastballs the past two weeks, batting .409 off heaters with a 1.253 OPS.


Image of the day…

Dodgers catcher Russell Martin 6-for-8 against Carlos Zambrano this year, and he hasn’t needed much time in the box against Big Z. All 8 of his plate appearances ended within 3 pitches. Watch whether Zambrano can keep the ball down against Martin—particularly on the first two pitches of the at-bat. The image shows what Martin has done with Z’s 0-0, 0-1, and 1-0 offerings this year. The bottom line: if he gets a pitch up in the zone early, he’ll make Zambrano pay.

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Key Matchups…

Dodgers hitters who match up well vs. Zambrano
 
Russell Martin    

Has owned Zambrano with a .615 career batting average (8-for-13) and 1.513 OPS.

Andre Ethier     Zambrano’s darting heater has been no problem for Ethier, who was 3-for-5 against it this season. Ethier’s Batting Average is .462 (6-for-13) against Zambrano since 2007.

Dodgers hitters who could struggle
 
Nomar Garciaparra     Zambrano tends to keep his fastball down in the zone very well and has excess movement on the pitch. Garciaparra is hitting .160 on low fastballs this season and tends to struggle against pitchers similar to Big Z.

Rafael Furcal     Furcal has just 1 well-hit ball in 9 ABs vs. pitchers similar to Zambrano since last year.

 
Cubs hitters who match up well vs. Billingsley
 
Ronny Cedeno     Has 17 hits in 58 ABs (.293 Batting Average) against other top-tier, right-handed pitchers this season.

Derrek Lee     Lee has 1 hit against Billingsley, but it left the yard. He also posted a .453 slugging percentage against right-handers in September, his best total since his scorching April.

Cubs hitters who could struggle
 
Alfonso Soriano     He’s reached base only 2 times in 7 PAs vs. Billingsley has punched him out 3 times in 5 at-bats this year, without using his curve and slider as often as most pitchers do against the Cubs outfielder. Two of the 3 strikeouts were fastballs.

Geovany Soto     Soto is 0-for-4 against Billingsley. Normally a pretty good right-handed breaking ball hitter, Soto is hitless against Billingsley’s curve and slider, which have ended each of his four at-bats against the Dodgers’ righty.