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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

World Series Breakdown: Battle of the Titans

The first two games of the World Series are in New York, and the Phillies will use a DH. Against LHP CC Sabathia, Charlie Manuel will most likely go with Ben Francisco in the 7-hole, playing left field. Raul Ibanez will likely DH. Against RHP A.J. Burnett, I hope that Manuel uses Matt Stairs as the DH because of Stairs' superior numbers against RHP than Francisco, in addition to Stairs' preference for groundball pitchers (Burnett is a groundball pitcher, and Francisco struggles against those). Though the outfield defense will suffer, left field is the least important outfield position, and Yankee Stadium does not have a large outfield. Let's get to the predictions:

GAME 1

Like the NLCS, the Phillies do not need to win game 1 as much as their opponents do. The Phils have a much stronger chance to hit Burnett than they do to hit Sabathia. The good news, however, is that Sabathia is a neutral pitcher (neither flyball nor groundball), and 6 of the Phils' 9 projected starters have their best numbers against neutral pitchers (Rollins and Feliz prefer groundball, Howard flyball). Of course, the bad news lies in that Sabathia is left-handed, and Howard, Utley, and Ibanez all prefer righties.

Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, and Ben Francisco all prefer lefties and neutral pitchers. Cliff Lee is a flyball pitcher. Only one of the nine Yankees starters, Derek Jeter, prefers lefties and flyball pitchers. This could be a hidden advantage for the Phils.

However, the Yankees have the best lineup in the major leagues against left-handed pitching, while the Phils prefer righties as a whole. Sabathia is the better pitcher, and I am going to give game one to the Yankees by a score of 4-3.

GAME 2

RHP Pedro Martinez vs. RHP A.J. Burnett. Burnett has been relatively shaky in the postseason, while Martinez absolutely killed the Dodgers' lineup on the road. Martinez is a neutral pitcher, and only one of the Yankees top 6 hitters prefers neutral pitchers (Rodriguez). Burnett is a groundball pitcher, and only one of the Phillies top 7 hitters prefers groundball pitchers (Rollins). However, Burnett is not as much as a groundball pitcher as Aaron Cook, who had success against this lineup. The Phillies are a homerun hitting team, and fly-ball hitters generally perform well against neutral/groundball pitchers. Matt Stairs should be the DH for this reason.

This is a game the Phillies must win, especially if they lose game 1. I think Martinez is a good matchup against the Yankees, and the Phillies will be glad to see a righty after facing Sabathia. Phils win, 5-3.

GAME 3

Cole Hamels is a slight groundball pitcher. He is a lefty, but he should match up okay with the Yankees because he is not a lefty who struggles against RHB. Hamels prefers facing righties, and the only three lefties in the lineup are Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Robinson Cano. As long as he can keep these players in check, I think he will pitch a good game. I agree with the decision to pitch Hamels in game 3, because he will be ready for game 7 (if Lee isn't in the mix) and he prefers to pitch at home.

The Phillies will be facing LHP Andy Pettitte, a groundball pitcher. Pettitte has a WHIP of 1.38 this year. This is a good matchup for the Phils. They will be seeing another lefty, except he is much weaker than Sabathia. The (potential) running game will distract Pettitte, and Hamels will pitch well. Phils 6, Yankees 4.

GAME 4

Sabathia will be on 3-days' rest against Big Joe Blanton. Joe Blanton is a groundball pitcher who matchups up well against the Yankees. The Phillies will be seeing their second lefty in a row, and Sabathia will not be as sharp on three-days' rest (he will probably throw tons of pitches in game 1). Blanton, the worst of the Phils 4 starters, will throw an okay game, but Sabathia will throw a better one to tie the series. Yankees 7, Phils 4.

GAME 5

Cliff Lee will face AJ Burnett, a matchup the Phils love. Lee is going to pitch better than he did in game 1, and so will Burnett. Lee wins the final game in CBP this season, 4-2.

GAME 6

Pedro Martinez vs. Andy Pettitte. Pettitte's 1.38 WHIP is the worst of any of the starters for either team, and he is pitching just as much as Sabathia in the first six games. Martinez again matches up well against this lineup, and he has thrown much fewer innings than Pettitte this year. Pettitte's large WHIP is too much too ignore, and the RHP Martinez will pitch better than his opponent. Phils beat the Yankees 6-3 while Philadelphia joins the Dominican Republic in complete euphoria.


If the series goes to 7 games, Sabathia will defeat Hamels or Lee. Sabathia is better than Hamels, and he has more experience than Lee on 3-days rest. I think the Phils have to take 4 out of the first 6 to win the series. Because the Phils have a slightly deeper rotation than New York, limiting Sabathia to two starts is key. Jayson Werth or Cliff Lee is your MVP.

That said, I have no clue what's going to happen in this series. All I know is that the worst city in the country is playing my favorite team in sports for the World Series, and I'll be damned if the Big Fruit gets another championship against the Phils.

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