Roy Oswalt blanks Mets for the Phillies' 18th shutout of 2010

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Roy Oswalt tossed a complete-game shutout of the Mets yesterday, marking the 18th time this season the Phillies have held an opponent scoreless. Not only is that the most shutouts by a Phillies team since 1965, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes that just five teams since 1989 have hurled more shutouts.
Those five teams were the 1992 Braves, 1992 Pirates, 1998 Braves, 2002 A’s, and 2007 Padres. All but the Padres made the playoffs, and even San Diego won 89 games that year. Of course, simply making the playoffs likely won’t be a problem for the Phillies and as noted last week capturing homefield advantage would put them in position to rely exclusively on Oswalt (2.94 ERA), Roy Halladay (2.44), and Cole Hamels (3.06) in the first round.
Of their 18 shutouts, Halladay started eight of them, Hamels started four of them, and Oswalt started three of them (despite not joining the team until midseason). J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer, and Kyle Kendrick started one apiece. All of which means the Phillies have blanked their opponent in 26.4 percent of the games started by The Big Three.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.