Tale O' Tape: NLCS Game 4

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.

In what is sure to be a high-intensity game -- even higher than usual playoff games following the fracas from last night -- the Dodgers come in with the momentum and home-field advantage. Joe Blanton and Derek Lowe get the call, so let's size 'em up.

Derek Lowe

Personally - We already examined Lowe before Game 1 of this series, but tonight he comes off three days rest. The numbers don't look great. He only started once on short rest this season, and he was crushed in five innings. The final tally was seven earned runs on ten hits. Last time around Lowe didn't have a bad outing, but it wasn't great either. He dealt for five innings and then fell apart with two quick swings of the bat in the sixth.

Home Splits - Lowe is stellar at home. His ERA is more than two runs better within the confines of Dodger Stadium at 2.30 and the home WHIP is a minuscule 0.93.

History Against Philly - Again, we looked at this before Game 1. Including his Thursday night outing, Lowe has now had two so-so outings against the Phillies.

Vs. Specific Hitters - Pat Burrell and Chase Utley both had two hits including a home run. Carlos Ruiz was 2-3. The rest of the team was 0-17 in that game ... so it would appear all Lowe needs to do is cut out the mistake pitches. He should be much better suited to do so at home.

Joe Blanton

Personally - Blanton's had an interesting season. He started off horribly below expectations for the A's, but after being dealt to the Phillies before the trade deadline he's gotten himself under a little bit of control. The 4-0 record and 4.20 ERA gave the Phillies a boost down the stretch. His last outing was a gem to close out the Brewers in Round 1. He worked six innings while only allowing one earned run. He struck out seven and didn't walk anyone.

Road Splits - Blanton was brutal on the road this season overall, sporting a 5.37 ERA.

History Against LA - He faced the Dodgers once in Los Angeles this season, and he was not treated cordially by the home team. In five innings, he was touched up for nine hits and four earned runs. He did strike out six, but also allowed two homers.

Vs. Specific Hitters - For the second night in a row, Manny Ramirez absolutely owns the starting pitcher. In 30 career plate appearances against Blanton, Manny rocks a 1.320 OPS. He's 14-25 (.560) with a double, home run, and eight RBI.

James Loney is 2-5 with two RBI. Andre Ethier is 4-8 with a homer. Matt Kemp is 2-8 with a double, and Russell Martin is 2-5 with a double.

Spot start alert: Jeff Kent is 5-6 (.833) against Blanton. If Joe Torre can deal with the downgrade defensively, I expect to see Kent in the lineup. If he really wants to get crazy, he could try moving Blake DeWitt back to third for a game, since Casey Blake has been abysmal against Blanton (1-21, which is an .048 average).

The only other Dodger with a poor history against Blanton is Rafeal Furcal, who is hitless in four tries.

Collectively, the Dodgers sport a career .343 average and .429 OBP against Blanton. Needless to say, I don't think they are worried.

Edge

Advantage Dodgers, for the second night in a row. Lowe is terrific at home, and he only really made two mistakes last time around on the road. The one variable that could possibly swing the edge is the fact that Lowe's going on short rest. We shall see if the one start earlier this season was poor because of the rest or haphazard coincidence.

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