Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fightin' Phils


Those are scenes from Temple University and Center City, respectively, after last Wednesday's National League pennant-clinching win. Obviously, I think we're all a bit excited. Just a few thoughts on that series, Charlie Manuel, and the upcoming Series.

I was pretty close with my predictions of key players for Phillies in the NLCS. I said Brett Myers for pitching, and while Cole Hamels got the MVP nod, Myers' 3 RBI performance saved his average pitching in Game 2. I don't think a loss in that game would have been as big as a series changer as Game 4 would have been, but going back to LA 1-1 could have been dangerous. I picked Chase Utley for offense, and watching him throughout the series, I was impressed. Here is a great link by someone who took the time to really crunch the numbers on Utley. Basically, "Chase hit .353, his on-base percentage was .522, [and] slugging percentage was .647, [all] tops of any Phillie with over six at-bats... No Phillie had more walks, hits, doubles, homeruns, total bases, or runs scored."

Pretty good performance, not to mention some outstanding plays on defense. Victorino had 6 RBIs to Utley's 3, but nobody filled up the stat sheet like Chase.

So now some thoughts on the World Series. Once again, I put the pitching key on Brett Myers. Cole Hamels deserves all the recognition, but he is the Phillies number 1 and we can expect him to keep us in any game. Brett Myers, on the other hand, is the big question mark. I don't see us winning this series in 5, which means Brett will be pitching twice. Additionally, if Manuel doesn't mess with the rotation, he will be pitching both starts in Florida, and his number are much worse away than at Citizen's Bank (something like 3.00/6.00 era and 8-5/3-8 splits). If Cole Hamels gets 2 wins, Myers 1, I like our chances of picking up one win in Moyer's 2 starts and Blanton's 1.

Which reminds me, I don't like what Charlie is doing by not messing with the rotation. I understand his angle of consistency and that without Moyer's 16 wins we wouldn't be here, but screw that it's the World Series. Myers has been much worse on the road, and Moyer has looked like crap recently while Blanton has shined. If you pitched Hamels, Blanton, Myers, Moyer, Hamels, Blanton, Myers, you would get a Myers home game, only one scary Moyer start, two promising Blanton games, and if necessary an absolute bulldog in Brett Myers for a potential game 7. Please prove me wrong Charlie.

Offensively, it is time for Ryan Howard to wake up. I gave him more credit than others for his recent performance, since his rare hits and plays have been clutch. However, with the Rays smacking 16 dingers in the ALCS, we need his power offense to match. One thing we do have over the Rays is more power throughout our lineup, but they have been scary recently by putting up 8 or 9 run games against good Red Sox pitching. We've been getting by on everyone else stepping up for him and Rollins, but I think we're going to need him to earn that 10 mil to keep pace in this series. Also, I think the DH issue actually goes to our advantage. We have a proven DH in Stairs, and I could see Burrell and Dobbs both doing well there too, with their defensive counterparts playing the field. In Citizen's bank, Hamels and Moyer have been known to get some hits in on occasion. I would throw Myers in there as well now, but he won't be playing at Citizen's Bank.

Overall, I think we're a good match for the Rays. I feel as though everything that they do well, we do just a little bit better (except batting averages and starting pitching). However, our power can compensate for that difference, as long as Howard chips in and we keep getting some key smacks from our personnel. I do think this pitching rotation will be a problem, but I'm still optimistic considering how we've fought this year. Go Phillies and thanks for reading.

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