10/26/09 1:34 AM EST
Phillies-Yankees World Series breakdown
Plenty of power expected in Fall Classic matchup
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Phillies' J.A. Happ vs. Yankees' Teixeira: If the ankle Scott Eyre turned in Game 4 of the NLDS continues to trouble him (he was nearly invisible against the Dodgers), Happ would inherit matchup lefty duties. At some point, that will mean being brought in to face Damon and sticking around to turn the switch-hitting Teixeira to his "weaker" right side. In Happ's May 23 Interleague start against the Yankees, Teixeira went 2-for-3 off him, both hits singles.Yankees' Mariano Rivera vs. Phillies' Howard: The NLCS MVP's postseason mantra has been "Get me to the plate, boys," and if the batters in front of him comply in a ninth-inning situation, Howard and The Cutter will meet. They hardly know each other, with Rivera having gotten the best of Howard all four times they've faced each other, including in the bottom of the ninth of the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, when Mo elicited an infield grounder with the tying run on base. Most recently, in May, Howard managed a 10-foot dribbler in front of the plate. Next time, a World Series could hang in the balance.
Phillies: Can Ruiz possibly still be a secret after his MVP-worthy Championship Series? Not in the strictest definition, but he still remains lying in ambush compared to the higher-profile men around him who must command more attention. Ruiz is also the secret component that turned the Phillies' uncertain pitching staff so stout against the Dodgers; he nurses pitchers along like a devoted nanny. And while the Dodgers gave him few opportunities to fire his arm -- running only five times, twice unsuccessfully -- it remains locked and loaded.Yankees: Superscout Gene Michaels and his cadre of advance snoops who bird-dogged the Phillies. If their work on the Angels was any indication, the Yankees again will appear to be playing with a sixth sense. Their defensive alignment in the ALCS was uncanny, repeatedly positioned perfectly for the hardest-hit liners. As for the scouts' book for pitchers -- they draped a collective 7-for-48 ALCS collar around the Angels' two main pistons, Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu.
Phillies: They showed no limp whatsoever in the NLCS but, in a relative sense, their biggest concern has to be Cole Hamels. The Phils won both of his starts against the Dodgers, but only by scoring 18 runs in them. Last October's King Cole lasted a total of 9 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs and 13 hits. Most alarmingly, left-handers went 5-for-9 with three homers off the southpaw. Damon, Cano and Matsui are salivating so much, they need bibs.Yankees: Joe Girardi got away without using struggling setup man Phil Hughes in the ALCS clincher by having Rivera notch his first six-out postseason save since 2004. But that won't work for a long run, and Hughes needs to get back on track after getting hit at a .391 pace in his first six postseason outings. Joba Chamberlain could step in as the eighth-inning guy, but you'd prefer not juggling significant roles at this late stage.
The Phillies will win if ... Hamels remembers who he is (the young lefty who went 4-0 in the last postseason) and Pedro Martinez forgets who he is (a 38-year-old who has been back in semi-retirement for six weeks, pitching a total of 14 innings since Sept. 13). The Phillies won't survive in a battle of bullpens. They need solid starts from someone other than Cliff Lee.The Yankees will win if ... They keep checking the start times and just show up for all the games on time. Seriously, this is a loaded team engineered to win. Lest the Phillies muscle up on and chase the starting pitcher early, everything is neatly and oppressively laid out for Girardi. The lineup is without a weak link. They all step into the batter's box and regard the opposing pitcher with that "You're mine" leer.