Yankees-Phillies World Series: A Preview of the Turnpike Tussle

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Yankees-Phillies World Series: A Preview of the Turnpike Tussle

The Yankees are leaning towards going with a three-man rotation in the World Series against the Phillies.

This will be a more difficult task than in the American League Championship Series, when there was an additional off day between Games Four and Five, because A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte will also have to go on three days' rest.

The other option would be to start Joba Chamberlain or Chad Gaudin in Game Four, but neither of them has started in weeks, and neither was particularly impressive during the second half.

If New York believes Burnett and Pettitte are capable of being effective on short rest after not being tested like that this season, and if CC Sabathia can still pitch his best in back-to-back three days' rest starts in Games Four and Seven, then a three-man rotation is the way to go.

Philadelphia may also use only three starters, so let's take a look at the possible Game Four through Six starters and their career regular season stats on short rest.

Game Four: CC Sabathia (3-1, 1.01) vs. Cliff Lee (no career starts on short rest)

Game Five: A.J. Burnett (4-0, 2.33) vs. Pedro Martinez (1-1, 1.80)

Game Six: Andy Pettitte (5-6, 3.88) vs. Cole Hamels (no career starts on short rest)

Now let's take an in-depth look at the pitching matchups in the first three games (postseason stats in parentheses).

 

Game One: Wednesday, Oct. 28—CC Sabathia (3-0, 1.19) vs. Cliff Lee (2-0, 0.74)

It's the matchup that's making every Cleveland Indians fan cringe. These former Tribesmen will become just the sixth pair of former Cy Young winners to square off in the World Series.

Sabathia has been outstanding in the first two rounds, earning the ALCS MVP Award by going 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA against the Angels. He's now 5-3 with a 4.72 mark in eight career postseason games, but he has never pitched in the Fall Classic.

The big lefty was 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA this year, including a no-decision vs. the Phillies in a 4-3 loss on May 24. In that game, Sabathia allowed three runs on nine hits over eight innings. He struck out four and walked no one.

In three career starts against Philadelphia, the southpaw is 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA. The Philly roster hits .255 vs. Sabathia, but only two players have faced him at least 10 times. Jimmy Rollins is 4-for-11 (.364) with two doubles and a triple, and former Mariner Raul Ibanez is 11-for-40 (.275) with two homers, nine RBI, and 10 strikeouts.

Lee pitched just once in the NLCS, shutting out the Dodgers on three hits over eight innings in a Game Three victory. He has been stellar in his first postseason.

The left-hander was 14-13 with a 3.22 ERA in 2009, including a 7-4 record with a 3.39 mark since coming over from Cleveland in late July.

As an Indian, Lee faced the Yankees twice this year, beating them on April 16 in New York and picking up a loss at home on May 29. In those two games, he yielded four runs on 16 hits and five walks, while striking out nine in 12 innings.

The 31-year-old has made nine lifetime starts against the Bombers, during which he's gone 4-4 with a 5.02 ERA. He's 2-2 with a 5.91 at Yankee Stadium.

New York's roster hits a healthy .294 off Lee. Derek Jeter is 11-for-27 (.407) with three doubles, Mark Teixeira is 9-for-23 (.391) with four doubles and six RBI, Alex Rodriguez is 5-for-15 (.333) with two homers, and Nick Swisher is 6-for-18 (.333) with four walks.

I'd start Brett Gardner (2-for-5, .400) over Johnny Damon (2-for-22, .091), but I doubt Joe Girardi would have the guts to do that.

 

Game Two: Thursday, Oct. 29—A.J. Burnett (0-0, 4.42) vs. Pedro Martinez (0-0, 0.00)

Burnett gave up four runs in the first inning of his Game Five start against Los Angeles before settling down to shut out the Angels until the seventh inning, when he was pulled with two men on. The bullpen didn't do him any favors as it allowed both runners to score.

The right-hander went 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA during the regular season, including a 7-3 loss to Philadelphia on May 22. In that game, he surrendered five runs on eight hits (three homers), two walks, and a hit batter, while striking out seven through six frames.

The former Marlin and Blue Jay has made 17 appearances (16 starts) vs. the Phils in his career, going 5-8 with a 4.75 ERA.

Against him, Chase Utley is 6-for-21 (.286) with seven strikeouts, Rollins is 11-for-43 (.256) with 12 Ks, Ryan Howard is 2-for-12 (.167) with six punchouts, and Pedro Feliz is 2-for-15 (.133).

But the big story of Game Two will be Pedro's return to New York. The former Red Sox and Mets pitcher is 11-11 with a 3.20 ERA in 32 starts vs. the Bombers, including an 8-4 record and a 2.95 mark in the Bronx. The strategy against Martinez has always been to just wait him out until he tires and then take advantage of the middle relief that follows him.

The Yankees roster hits just .226 off the right-hander. A-Rod is 16-for-55 (.291) with only one homer and 19 strikeouts, Jeter is 22-for-86 (.256) with 11 walks and 22 Ks, and this works out for Jose Molina's start because Jorge Posada is 11-for-60 (.183) with THIRTY-THREE strikeouts.

I'd also put Jerry Hairston Jr. (10-for-27, .370) in the lineup over Johnny Damon (5-for-25, .200) or Hideki Matsui (4-for-28, .143).

Martinez is 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA in his postseason career and earned a win by throwing seven shutout innings in his only World Series appearance.

 

Game Three: Saturday, Oct. 31—Andy Pettitte (2-0, 2.37) vs. Cole Hamels (1-1, 6.75)

Pettitte is the only Yankees starter with World Series experience, going 3-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 starts over an amazing seven Fall Classics. He has an overall 3.83 mark in the playoffs with a record 16 victories to go along with just nine losses.

The southpaw was 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA this year, including a no-decision against the Phillies in a 5-4 win on May 23. In that contest, he allowed four runs on five hits (two homers) and two walks, while striking out five over seven innings.

In his 14-year career, the one-time Astro is 2-2 with a 3.67 in seven starts vs. Philadelphia. He is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two games at Citizens Bank Park and was 0-2 with a 4.15 at the old Veterans Stadium.

The Phils hit just .237 off Pettitte. Ibanez is 6-for-21 (.286), former Yankee Miguel Cairo is 10-for-36 (.278), Rollins is 4-for-18 (.222), and Jayson Werth is 1-for-13 (.077) with five strikeouts.

Hamels is the only starter in this series who has really struggled this postseason. He hasn't pitched beyond the sixth inning in any of his three starts and surrendered at least three runs in each of them.

The left-hander is now 5-2 with a 3.36 ERA in nine career playoff starts, including a 1-0 record with a 2.77 mark in two games during last year's World Series, which earned him MVP honors.

Hamels went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA in 2009 and picked up a no-decision in a 4-3 win over New York on May 24, when he allowed two runs on eight hits and no walks, while striking out five through six. 

The 25-year-old yielded two runs over seven innings but picked up the loss in his only other start against the Yankees in 2006.

Teixeira is 5-for-17 (.294) with two homers vs. Hamels, while A-Rod, Posada, Matsui, and Robinson Cano are a combined 0-for-13.

 

Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison.

Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com.

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