Creature Vs. Creature: A Brotherly Love Look to the World Series
Tamp Bay Community Leader Devon Rogers and I are going to embrace B/R new feature called Creature vs. Creature. I'll provide the Phillies' perspective; he'll take the Rays' perspective. Without further ado, here's the Brotherly Love edition of the World Series Creature vs. Creature. Here's Devon's Take on Tamp Bay.
Phillies Lineup Rundown
Philadelphia has several similarities in its 2008 lineup when compared to its 1993 lineup. In 1993, the Phillies platooned three positions—left field, right field, and second base.
The 2008 Phillies for the majority of the season platooned third base, catcher, and right field. The emergence of Jayson Werth as a viable option against right-handed pitching has allowed Werth to stay in the lineup the majority of the time.
Third basemen Pedro Feliz will start against all lefties and most right-handed pitchers. Manager Charlie Manuel will also use Feliz when Jamie Moyer is on the bound because of the tendency of right-handed hitters to drill balls at third base. Feliz is close to Gold-Glove caliber at the hot corner.
Greg Dobbs will enter the game at third base as a big-time bat. The majority of America hasn't heard of Dobbs, but currently he's the major league's best pinch hitter and can provide quite the pop against righties.
Jimmy Rollins will lead things off for the Phillies. After a tremendous first round, where Rollins batted .375, setting the table for the big bats to come, Rollins struggled against better Dodger pitching. The shortstop collected just three hits in the entire series and only one home run, a leadoff blast in the series clincher.
Rollins needs to be able to get on base and wreck havoc with Rays' pitchers. He stole 47 bases in the regular season and was caught just three times.
"The Flyin' Hawaiian" will usually bat second. Center fielder Shane Victorino has been the most clutch hitter for the Phils. Victorino drove home 11 batters in nine games so far, including four on the Game Four grand slam off of CC Sabathia. Victorino has just four hits against the Dodgers, but he still knocked in six runs.
The speedster will most likely bat second against all of Tampa's right-handed pitchers, but he could slide to the six hole against Scott Kazmir, with Jayson Werth batting second. Also, the second time through the rotation, Manuel might switch the two.
Against Los Angeles, the second time the Phillies faced Derek Lowe, Jayson Werth slid up to the two hole and Victorino batted sixth.
Up third will be Chase Utley, who, during his first two playoff series, seemed like he wasn't ready for the big stage. Utley couldn't hit a lick against Colorado last season and struggled against Milwaukee in the first round, picking up two hits in 15 at-bats.
The NLCS proved to be an entirely different story for Utley. He finished with a .353 batting average and 1.169 OPS. Repeatedly, Utley reached base to set up rallies that buried the Dodgers.
Batting cleanup will be the league's best long-ball basher. Former MVP Ryan Howard returned to MVP form in September, drilling 12 long balls in leading the Phillies to the division title. Like Utley, Howard struggled during the NLDS but awoke in the NLCS.
It's been almost a month since Howard last hit a home run, but the first basemen raked six singles into mostly right field and struck out just twice in 22 plate appearances against Los Angeles.
Providing protection for Howard will be "man or machine?" Pat Burrell. Phillies fans prefer Burrell to be the machine he proved to be in the first two months of the year, where the Philadelphian's were talking MVP for Pat the Bat or, according to Phillies' Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas, Pat the Bait.
Burrell's been consistent through the playoffs, hitting .300 with three home runs. Burrell had trouble making contact at times against L.A., striking out seven times in 18 at-bats.
Jayson Werth will usually bat sixth, except for the circumstances mentioned above. Werth looked like he was swatting flies against L.A., swinging at numerous awful pitches on his way to a 4-for-21 performance at the plate.
Werth will be subject to late-game platooning when Tampa wants to use its righties out of the 'pen. Both Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins will be solid lefty bats off the bench. It's been well documented how far Matt Stairs can hit a baseball. Just ask Jonathan Broxton.
The Pedro Feliz and Greg Dobbs platoon explained also above will fill the seven hole. Feliz has struggled a bit at the plate, but throughout the year consistently came up with big hits.
Hitting eighth will be Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz. The catcher frustrated Phillies fans all season due to his incredible ability to hit weak groundballs to third base or pop up to second in key situations
The postseason has been much different. He's been a superior game caller, who is finally hitting the ball in the second series of baseball's second season. Ruiz finished the NLCS with five hits, several of which came with two outs to turn the lineup over.
Cole Hamels is the only pitcher that will get at-bats at home who's a threat to put the ball in play and get a base hit. King Cole finished the regular season with 17 hits and a three RBI.
The designated hitter will rotate between Matt Stairs, Greg Dobbs, and backup catcher Chris Coste. Stairs and Dobbs will face the right handers while Coste, known last year as the 33-year old rookie, will probably be the Philadelphia DH against left-handed pitchers.
Cole Hamels will likely throw Game One and Game Five as it stands. He could be available to throw an inning or two in relief in Game Seven if necessary. The Phillies could be forced to move the Cole Train up to Game Four if trailing 3-0 or even 2-1 in the series.
Hamels has given up just three runs in 21 innings in the playoffs and was named the NLCS MVP after his dominating Game One and Five performances. He uses a solid fastball and world-class changeup to put batters away. Occasionally, he'll mix in a curveball or two to keep hitters off balanced.
Brett Myers is the projected Game Two and Six starter. Myers could ultimately be the player that decides this series. After several shaky starts to end the season, and a not so great start in the NLCS, Myers may be slowly returning to his pre-minor-league-stint form.
But if Myers clicks and throws like he did during the majority of the second half of the season, he can't and won't be beat. If the Phillies get two starts reminiscent of his starts in the second half of the season, the Phillies should win the World Series.
The man who you obviously haven't heard of is 45-years old, Jamie Moyer, who will pitch in Game Three. Moyer won 16 games this season and dominated opposing hitters since June.
But the playoffs have been a different story. Moyer has been knocked around by patient Brewers and Dodgers hitters. He's given up eight runs in just over five innings in two starts. Moyer's struggled with his command, leaving numerous balls over the middle of the plate that hitters are killing.
If Moyer can command his pitches and take back the corners of the plate, Moyer will be tough to beat again. The youth of the Tampa lineup should play into Moyer's favor.
Midseason acquisition Joe Blanton will start Game Four if Hamels isn't moved up. Blanton hasn't been the innings eater Phillies fans expected him to be, but the former Athletic hasn't lost a decision as a Phillie.
He's struck out 11 batters in 11 innings this postseason while compiling a 3.27 ERA in two starts.
The ninth inning starts and ends with Brad "Lights Out" Lidge. No closer has been as dominant as Lidge this year. The Phillies are undefeated when leading after eight innings, mainly because of Lidge.
The closer mixers together dominant stuff with wildness that keeps hitters guessing, wailing at balls nowhere close to the zone. Anything can happen in the World Series, but odds are if the Phillies have a lead heading into the ninth, Tampa Bay is heading to the clubhouse with a loss.
It's getting to the point where the Phillies are almost unbeatable when leading after seven. If Cole Hamels' change up is all world, then set-up man Ryan Madson's off-speed pitch is all universe.
Ryan Madson has given up runs in just two of his past 21 appearances and has been the big time, right-handed shut-down man for the eighth inning. The second half of the Phillies late-game tandem is J.C. Romero.
Romero is Philadelphia's best left-handed specialist. Change that, he's one of the major league's best left-handed specialists. Romero's given up 10 hits in 98 at-bats against left-handed hitters. Good luck Carlos Pena.
The seventh inning will predominately be righty Chad Durbin and lefty Scott Eyre's inning to work. Durbin has struggled since August but can provide solid long relief if well rested. Eyre is the Phightin's second lefty specialist who's done a solid job, giving up 11 hits and 50 at-bats against lefties.
Clay Condrey will provide mop-up duty as well as a sixth-inning filler if the starter only goes five innings. Lefty J.A. Happ will also be used in mop-up duty, but can also be used as another lefty specialist if needed.
Brett Myers. As mentioned above, Myers can be as dominant as any pitcher in this series. When he's dominant, he's economical with his pitchers and go the distance.You can get a general picture of what each Phillies pitcher will likely do in the series, but Myers.
He's an enigma, a hot head, and a frustratingly inconsistent pitcher. But when he's good, he's untouchable.
Phillies in six.
Cole Hamels is the best pitcher in the series and will win Game One at Tropicana Field. Brett Myers will return to form and dominate Game Two meaning the Phillies leave the City of Tampa up 2-0.
The Rays take the next two games, getting to Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton, who throws Game Four since the Phillies lead the series two games to one entering Game Four.
The final game in Philadelphia belongs once again to Cole Hamels who leads the Phillies back to victory.
The series returns to the land of many catwalks, where Brett Myers wins for the second time in Florida to end the series. If Myers can't close it out, Tampa should be primed to win a Game Seven.
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