I've written before in this space that there are three 24-year-old aces in these playoffs: Hamels, Billingsley and the Red Sox's
Thus far in this series the Dodgers' bullpen has posted a 2.93 ERA in 15 1/3 innings but has allowed two of four inherited runners to score. That looks good until you compare it to the performance of the Phillies' pen, which has a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings and has not inherited a runner all series. Both bullpens were heavily taxed in Game 4. The Dodgers used everyone but long men
Ultimately, the key to tonight's game is Billingsley, who dominated the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLDS (6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K), but was awful in Game 2 of this series. Unable to hit his spots last Friday, Billingsley watched helplessly as his pitches drifted over the plate and were scattered about the ballpark by the Phillies' hitters. Five straight two-out hits in the second inning gave the Phils a 4-1 lead. Three more safeties in the third, including the second of three on the night by opposing pitcher
Billingsley failed to record the eighth out of a game just once during the regular season, that coming in his first start of the year, all the way back on April 8. In between those two stinkers he failed to complete the fifth inning just once and allowed more than five runs in a game just twice. Over his final 28 starts he averaged 6 1/3 innings and posted a 2.78 ERA. Unless Billingsley is hurt or abnormally unnerved, which certainly didn't seem to be the case in the NLDS, he's likely rebound tonight. The only question is if it will be enough to beat Hamels and extend his team's season.