Stakes high as Padilla faces old team
Dodgers need solid start from righty to prevent 0-2 deficit
LOS ANGELES -- It's been a long arduous journey for Vicente Padilla to get to where he is now: the Dodgers' starter for Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Friday at 1:07 p.m. PT on TBS.
After all, the club he'll face has played a pretty large role in his career.
He came over to the Phillies during the 2000 season as a part of the trade that sent Curt Schilling to the D-backs.
In Philadelphia, Padilla quickly established himself as one of the better up-and-coming pitchers in the game.
He was an All-Star selection in 2002 -- his first full season in the Phillies' rotation -- and finished the year 14-11 with a 3.28 ERA.
The following season he won another 14 games for the Phillies, but he missed extended time because of injury in 2004 and finished the year 7-7 with a 4.53 ERA.
After a 9-12 mark in 2005, the Phillies traded Padilla to Texas for Ricardo Rodriguez.
Now, four years later, Padilla will face his old club for the second time in his career. And the stakes heading into Game 2 are pretty big -- an 0-2 deficit could be the beginning of the end of the Dodgers' season.
Tale of the TapeGame 2 starters
|Phillies' Pedro Martinez||Dodgers'
|2009 REGULAR SEASON|
|Overall||9 GS, 5-1, 3.63 ERA, 8 BB, 37 K||26 G, 25 GS, 12-6, 4.46 ERA, 54 BB, 97 K|
|Key stat||2-for-21 RISP, 2 out||1.43 WHIP|
|Career||13 G, 11 GS, 6-2, 3.40 ERA||1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA|
|AT DODGER STADIUM|
|2009||NR||3 GS, 1-0, 3.52 ERA|
|Career||38 G, 6 GS, 7-7, 2.93 ERA||8 G, 4 GS, 1-2, 4.44 ERA|
|AGAINST THIS OPPONENT|
|2009 regular season||NR||NR|
|Career||9 GS, 3-5, 4.02 ERA||1 GS, 0-1, 10.50|
|Loves to face||Manny Ramirez, 5-for-30, 0 HR, 13 SO||Pedro Feliz, 2-for-9, 2 SO|
|Hates to face||Jim Thome, 6-for-35, but has 3 HR||Raul Ibanez, 9-for-28, 2 HR|
|Why he'll win||Went 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 5 Sept GS||5-0, 2.72 ERA in 9 G, 8 GS for LA|
|Pitcher beware||Hasn't pitched since Sept. 30||13.32 BR/9 was 17th highest among 95 pitchers with at least 140 innings|
|Bottom line||Future Hall of Famer still has something left||Seems focused with something to prove|
"It's going to big for us to hopefully get this game tomorrow," catcher Russell Martin said after the Dodgers' 8-6 loss in Game 1. "You don't want to fall behind 0-2 against these guys."
To be successful on Friday, Padilla will need to find a way to be effective against a Phillies lineup that can be a difficult matchup for right-handed starters.
Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hit from the left side, and Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino switch hit.
But one thing that could prove advantageous for Padilla is his ability to pound batters down in the zone. Keeping the ball low could go a long way toward preventing another Philadelphia power outburst. The Phillies hit two three-run homers in Game 1.
"[He's got] a nasty sinker," Martin said. "When he's locating his fastball down in the zone, he's tough to get to. He's got a power arm anywhere from 90-95 mph, mixes his offspeed well and really doesn't give in."
The Dodgers seem confident that Padilla can ride his success in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against St. Louis to another productive postseason outing.
In the series-clinching win against the Cardinals, Padilla threw seven scoreless innings and gave up only four hits.
"I thought his command was great and his stuff -- again, he has great stuff," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said on Wednesday. "Handling the whole St. Louis scene, I think that told us a lot."
The vote of confidence associated with getting the start in Game 2 wasn't lost on Padilla.
"It's obviously very special for me that they moved me up from third to second game," he said. "It's a great opportunity, and I have to work hard and get the victory for our team."
While Padilla said that he's currently pitching the best he has since the 2006 season (Padilla is 5-0 in eight starts with the Dodgers), the Phillies could be his toughest task he's faced in Los Angeles.
In his one other career start against Philadelphia, Padilla gave up seven runs on seven hits in an 8-6 loss on June 24, 2008, in Texas.
"We know what we are going to get from Padilla," Rollins said. "I've been behind him. When he's good, he's real good. If he's off, we can get him. It depends on the score and his confidence."
Padilla's confidence, though, should be sky-high right now.
His stint with the Dodgers has gone better than most expected. He's proven to be a valuable member of the Dodgers rotation, and he has the opportunity to help pitch his club into the World Series.
"We certainly were hoping that he would give us a boost," Torre said. "But would I have dreamed at the time we got him in that deal that he was going to pitch Game 2 of the Championship Series? No, I certainly didn't envision that."
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.