Lee in line to start World Series opener
Phils lefty ace could be followed by Hamels in Game 2
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies received a couple nice bonuses for clinching their second consecutive National League championship Wednesday night with a 10-4 victory over the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series:
They don't have to make a cross-country flight Thursday to play the Dodgers on Friday in Game 6 at Dodger Stadium.
They get to start left-hander Cliff Lee in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday in New York or Anaheim, if they want.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel never announced who his Game 6 NLCS starter would have been, although it looked to be either Lee or right-hander Pedro Martinez. Regardless, the Phillies basically can set up their rotation any way they want against the Yankees or Angels in the World Series.
Lee is 4-4 with a 5.02 ERA in nine career starts against the Yanks, but is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in his past three against New York. That included a 10-2 victory over the Yankees in the opening of new Yankee Stadium on April 16, when Lee pitched for the Indians.
Lee is 5-3 with a 3.32 ERA in eight career starts against the Angels. He threw a complete game in Anaheim on May 8, 2007, and another complete game against the Halos on Aug. 15, 2008, in Cleveland.
"I don't know if that gives me an advantage or not," said Lee, asked about his experience facing the American League. "I do have some experience against those teams, but they also have some experience facing me, too. You've still got to make pitches. If you miss over the plate, you'll get hit whether you've faced the team or not. You've still got to locate and mixe speeds and make them earn their way."
Left-hander Cole Hamels could start Game 2. He is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in one start against the Angels. It seems likely the Phillies set up their rotation so Lee and Hamels each start twice in the series, although Hamels is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts this postseason.
"Cole's got to step back and just understand it's about making pitches," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I think he's put a lot of pressure on himself. He's getting caught up in more emotions than focusing on what he needs to do."
If the Phillies stick with Lee and Hamels, that would leave three starts for right-handers Pedro Martinez and Joe Blanton and left-hander J.A. Happ.
Martinez is 11-11 with a 3.20 ERA in 32 career starts against the Yankees and 9-1 with a 2.24 ERA in 14 starts vs. the Angels in the regular season. Martinez is 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA in six postseason appearances against the Yanks.
Blanton is 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees. When he's faced the Angels, he is 3-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 15 appearances.
Happ allowed four hits and two runs in six innings in a 5-4 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 23. The rookie lefty has never faced the Angels.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.