It's finally here. The big one. The World Series. For true baseball fans, such as myself, this could be one of the best series played. The upstart Tampa Bay Rays going against the never-say-die Philadelphia Phillies.
This series is going to come down to pitching. It will be who can score first and who can hold it. For Philadelphia, it's offense is it's shining star, so how will they fair against the Rays' young pitching staff?
Kazmir has had a rough postseason so far. He's got a record of 0-2, an ERA of 9.00, and 14 walks and strikeouts. Kazmir needs to turn this around and fast. A large portion of Philadelphia's lineup runs hot and cold, but they don't swing and forget. They might have trouble sometimes figuring out a pitcher, but when they do, it can get ugly for the guy on the mound.
Scott's best pitch is his fastball, which can top out at 97 MPH. The tailing action will help guys like Howard and Utley chase. But if he makes one location mistake with the heater Philly will make him pay. It happened to Sabathia and Billingsley. The Philly lineup can't get tricked by his fastball, and Utley and Howard need to be careful with his slider. If the Phils can get a big hit off of him, he might collapse.
He got banged up in his last start, but "Big Game" James is not going to let that affect him. The ace is going to be relying on his changeup and the curveball he throws sometimes. Shields can GATT guys like Burell, Howard, Utley, and Werth with the changeup. I'm guessing that it will be his out pitch, like his Philadelphia counterpart Cole Hamels.
Burell and Howard are very prone to strikeouts, and patience can be problem for those two. Shields has a very low number of walks, so that will help him. However, his curve is average, so if it hangs at all, you'll see hitters make contact with it.
This guy is the total package. Not only does he have a large arsenal, he goes right after pitchers. He shut down the Red Sox in Game Seven and was named the series MVP for it. He'll be using the changeup and two-seam fastball against some of the more dangerous hitters.
With his movement on the two seamer, Rollins, Victorino, and Howard will get under it. It happened to Kotsay in the ALCS. His off-speed pitch will fool batters, and by using the fastball and slider to set up the off-speed pitch, he will shut down the Phillies' offense, the same way he did against Boston.
If Tampa falls behind in the series I would be surprised if they put this guy in. You can't allow Philadelphia to get a large lead, with their bullpen. Sonnanstine is not a lights out pitcher, and the heart of the Phillies offense will have a field day with him. The key here is to wait for a something to float in and nail it. Andy will always give up two to four runs a game so Philly has to hop on him fast.
Philadelphia cannot be intimidated by this monster bullpen. They were exposed in Game Five and it will happen again. Joe Madden will try to avoid another breakdown by throwing every single pitcher he can at the Phillies, but once an offense gets rolling, its hard to stop them.
There is no trick here, just work the count and make the pitchers earn the out. And when they make a mistake, capitalize.
Also, David Price is not impossible to beat. Yes, his numbers are intimidating, and he is the real deal. But he is young and inexperienced. Price makes mistakes in the strike zone. The Philadelphia lineup is made up of hitters who capitalize on mistakes. If Philly can get to Price, they can take the series.
All in all, the key to beating the Rays' pitching is patience. These guys are power pitchers and rely on the speed of their pitches. Philadelphia needs to wear down the pitchers and force them to make a location mistake. That's how you beat the Rays. Force them to throw you a good pitch.