Padilla has pitched better than anyone could have expected since joining the Dodgers, running a 3.40 FIP in seven starts, then shutting out the Cardinals in the first round. However, Padilla has a long track record of having significant problems against left-handed batters.
This isn’t some small sample fluke. Padilla will always struggle against LHBs with his repertoire. And, wouldn’t you know, the Phillies have some pretty good left-handed hitters. Between Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez, Padilla’s going to be staring down one of the best collections of left-handed bats in the game.
I understand the desire to play the hot hand, and Padilla is throwing better in LA than he has in years, but this is still a really bad match-up for him. In this case, Torre’s simply weighting recent performance far too heavily. Pitching well or not, he’s still penciling in Vicente Padilla for two starts in the NLCS, and that’s not a good decision.
I can't agree more. There's a tendency for managers, especially when he's got a new and suddenly successful player, to believe that somehow the player has changed. Perhaps due to better coaching, or perhaps due to the proverbial "change of scenery." But as Cameron notes, we're not talking about some kid here. Padilla has been around for a while. In his long and exactly average career, Padilla has struck out roughly six batters per nine innings. In his time with the Dodgers, though -- 46 innings, including his seven zeroes against the Cardinals last week -- he's struck out nearly nine per nine innings.
And that's not just because he switched from the American League to the National; Padilla's spent most of his career in the National League.
If the NLCS goes seven games, Padilla will get two starts and Randy Wolf just one. In his career, the left-handed Wolf has limited left-handed hitters to a .222/.293/.377 line. In the right-handed Padilla's career -- roughly the same length as Wolf's -- he's been knocked around by lefties pretty good: .297/.380/.479. Those numbers are dramatic. Against lefties, Padilla's batting average allowed is higher than Wolf's on-base average allowed, and his on-base average allowed higher than Wolf's slugging average.
The Dodgers would seem to have two big advantages in this series: they have many right-handed hitters to counter the Phillies' many left-handed starting pitchers; and they have many left-handed starting pitchers to counter the Phillies' many left-handed hitters. But Torre, based on the grand total of 46 innings, seems willing to give away, to some degree at least, one of those advantages.