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 1 of the 2008 National League Division Series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies.
INSIDE EDGE BREAKDOWN -- BREWERS VS. PHILLIES
Gotta know this...
• Gallardo came back to the mound in stellar fashion last Thursday after missing over 4 months due to an injured knee. He proved to be at full strength, not only by his results (4 innings of one-run ball) but also by the fact that he consistently hit 91 mph with his fastball. That is slightly higher than earlier this season, and two ticks better than his average heater last year.
• Gallardo's fastball has been much better in the first part of games. Opponent batting average against his heater is .218 in his first 4 innings, and climbs to .294 afterwards. The disparity is even more pronounced this season -- opponents are hitting just .154 against Gallardo's fastball with no extra base hits against it in the first 4 frames. They are 13-for-27 (.481) with a stealthy .852 slugging percentage against his heater from the fifth inning on.
•The Phillies have the luxury of starting their ace in Game 1 thanks to their clinching of the NL East a day before Hamels would have started. The southpaw is one of the best left-handers in the game and features an outstanding changeup. Opponents are batting .211 against his change, but more impressively, they are slugging just .321 against it. When Hamels keeps the changeup on the outer edge of the plate, which he does over half the time, opponents are hitting .166 and slugging .236.
• Brewers left-handed batters stand a better chance against the lefty Hamels than their right-handed batters. Lefties are batting .262 and righties .215 against Hamels this year. In September, left-handed batters are 15-for-39 (.385) with 4 home runs against Hamels.
• Dave Bush and Manny Parra each started their share of games this season, but could be used in relief. The Brewers have had their struggles lately out of the pen, but one thing Bush and Parra have done well recently is finish hitters off. The pair are both in the Top 5 in baseball during September in batting average against with two strikes. Opponents are 2-for-33 ( .061) against Parra and 3-for-41 (.073) against Bush on two-strike counts this month.
• Phillies closer Brad Lidge owns the most swung-and-missed slider in the National League. Exactly half of the time an opposing batter offered at Lidge's slider this season, they drew air.
• Ryan Braun's eighth inning home run on Sunday sealed the deal for the Brewers' first playoff berth since 1982. Braun's late-inning heroics were not surprising, given that he has homered 10 times after the sixth inning since July and 7 times in the first six innings of games in that span.
• Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and catcher Jason Kendall are due for a seeing-eye hit. Only 1 of Fielder's 22 groundballs went for hits last month. Kendall put 34 balls on the ground in September, with only 2 knocks to show for it.
• Pitchers don't want to fall behind in the count against Ryan Howard and for good reason. His 1.301 OPS with the count in his favor is among the best in baseball. Howard's .497 OPS with the count in the pitchers' favor is in the bottom tier among qualified hitters.
• Jayson Werth will hope every at-bat comes in a tight game. There's nothing special about his September OPS of .697, but he consistently came through at the right time. All 3 of Werth's September home runs came in one-run games. He's batting just .167 when the score differential is 4 or more runs since August.
Image of the day...
Cole Hamels is known for his deadly changeup, especially against right-handed batters. But in his September 13 outing against the Brewers, it was his fastball that was most effective. Milwaukee right-handers were 1-for-9 against the heater, and 3-for-9 against his changeup, which was located in good areas down-and-away for the most part as the image shows:
Notice how often Hamels went up-and-in to Brewers right-handers with his heater. That willingness to come hard-in combined with his stellar changeup down-and-away typically results in a long night for opposing hitters. See if it does tonight.
Brewers hitters who match up well vs. Hamels
Hardy has had the best success against Hamels among Brewers regulars, going 4-for-11 (.364) with a home run against him in previous meetings..
Fielder has taken the Phillies' ace deep twice this season -- once against his outstanding changeup.
Braun was only 1-for-7 this season against Hamels, but was 2-for-3 with a homer against him last year.
Brewers hitters who could struggle
Hart is struggling big-time with a .173 September batting average and is 1-for-13 (.077) lifetime against Hamels with 6 punchouts..
Has 0 well-hit balls in 7 ABs against Hamels since last season.
Hall batted .182 in September and is just 2-for-12 in the last two years against Hamels.
Phillies hitters who match up well vs. Gallardo
Burrell is slugging .595 in 190 ABs vs. other dominant breaking-ball right handed pitchers since last year.
Feliz hits right-handed curveballs very well (.381 BA) and he took Gallardo's deep last season. He added a sharply-hit single this year to go 2-for-5 in his career versus the Brewers' starter.
Left-handed batters have hit Gallardo's fastball best when it's located away from them. The red-hot Victorino, who batted .344 in September, is the best outside fastball hitter in the Phil's lineup against righties.
Phillies hitters who could struggle
He's 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts against Gallardo and has a well-hit Average of .198 (20-for-101) versus similar middle-tier, right-handed pitchers since last year.
Coste was 0-for-2 last season against Gallardo, who threw him 8 pitches -- all fastballs -- to get a couple of flyouts. Expect the results to get worse if Gallardo uses his slider. Coste is batting .194 against righty sliders since last season.