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WORLD SERIES

How Yankees and Phillies match up

Give New York a slight edge as Philadelphia tries to repeat.

October 28, 2009|Phil Rogers

Starters

This could be real interesting. The Yankees' CC Sabathia and Phillies' Cliff Lee, former Cleveland teammates, have been dominating. They've combined to make six starts in the postseason, never yielding more than one earned run. They could face each other in Games 1, 4 and 7, if it is necessary. A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, working behind Sabathia, appear vulnerable but have five quality starts in their six in the playoffs. The Phillies will look to exploit Burnett's wildness. Philadelphia has used five starters in its nine playoff games, but that's not an indication of true depth. Cole Hamels, huge in the 2008 playoffs, has been hit hard and has been bumped to the Game 3 starter. Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 for the Phillies.

Edge: Yankees

Bullpen

This is a big edge, even if the New York bullpen has been only slightly better in the playoffs (three saves, 2.28 ERA, compared to three saves, 2.88 ERA). Mariano Rivera, the all-time saves leader in October, brings a sense of confidence and resiliency that the 2009 Brad Lidge model doesn't. Phil Hughes isn't pitching well, but in him, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Coke, the Yankees deserve a nod for setup relief.

Edge: Yankees

Hitting

The Yankees scored the most runs in baseball during the regular season but have been outscored by the Phillies in the playoffs -- an average of 6.1-5.3. Those numbers, produced in part at home parks that favor power hitters, suggest a high-scoring Series. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez (.969), and Phillies' Ryan Howard (.742) and Shane Victorino (.722) all enter the World Series with 30-plus at-bats and slugging percentages over .700. Howard (.355-2-14) and Rodriguez (.438-5-12) have 26 combined RBIs in 18 games, with Rodriguez riding a 12-game playoff hitting streak. Both teams have 14 home runs in the playoffs, with the Phillies hitting at least one homer in their last eight games and the Yankees bunching their bombs. The Yankees need to get Mark Teixeira (.205, one homer in 39 at-bats) and Nick Swisher (.125) on track.

Edge: Phillies

Fielding

None of the eight playoff teams gave up fewer unearned runs than Philadelphia during the regular season, and none gave up more than the Yankees. The statistics may be misleading, as the Yankees' infield is excellent, especially first baseman Teixeira. The Phillies' speed could cause problems for catcher Jorge Posada. The Phillies must hope Chase Utley's uncharacteristic throwing problems don't return.

Edge: Phillies

Bench

Matt Stairs and Greg Dobbs are modern versions of Manny Mota, pinch-hit specialists who are as grizzled as they come. Both teams use their extra players freely throughout games, with defensive replacements and pinch-runners. Yankees DH Hideki Matsui moves into a bench role for games in Philadelphia.

Edge: Phillies

Manager

Charlie Manuel knows his team as well as Joe Torre did the Yankees from 1996 to 2001, playing a role in the Phillies' 18-5 playoff record the last two seasons. They have lost only one game in each of five series, twice beating teams that had more regular-season wins. Joe Girardi is a hands-on-the-wheel manager unafraid of the second-guess. Expect long games. Both teams have used an average of four relievers a game in the playoffs, with the frequent pitching changes producing two outs per relievers.

Edge: Phillies

Pick

This World Series will not produce an anticlimax, as the last five have. This will almost certainly be the best Series since 2003, when Florida upset the Yankees, and it could be one of the best ever. Sabathia vs. Howard is a Spike Lee/Martin Scorsese dream.

Yankees in seven.

-- Phil Rogers

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