On Wed., Oct. 22, 2008 at 8 p.m. the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that has been defeated in each postseason game since their last World Series appearance in 1993, will take on the Tampa Bay Rays in an away game.
Critics have stated that the difference in this series could very well be the Ray’s superior pitching—they obviously haven’t watched Cole Hamels in the postseason, where he has been nearly untouchable.
Hamels’s pitching has been outstanding and his change-up has undoubtedly developed. He has victories in game one of the National League Division Series and National League Championship Series, as well as the NLCS game five clincher. The Rays’ hitters tend to go after fastballs, therefore, Hamels’s constant change of speeds will certainly help him in the upcoming games.
Brett Myers has made news this postseason, not for his decent pitching, but for his hitting. Myers is batting four-for-five with one walk and three RBI, and his one ineffective at bat was still considered successful, because he brought on a 3-2 count and saw nine pitches when he took on the Milwaukee Brewers' C.C. Sabathia.
As far as his pitching, Myers really settled in after giving up early runs in his first start. He ended after seven innings, but barely gave up anything after the first. He needs to use his curveball against the Rays’ aggressive young hitters and remain composed throughout.
Jamie Moyer’s standard consistency has flaked this postseason. He has been getting rocked and giving up early runs, but is expected to bounce back and step it up in the World Series games, because young hitters play into his system well and he has a knack for keeping them on their toes.
Moyer is a poised pitcher and is expected to rattle hitters with his unpredictability. He should cut the amount of walks he has given up and get the Rays’ hitters out in front.
The silent killer in the Phillies’ postseason has been Joe Blanton. He has victories in game four at Milwaukee, and game four in a road game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Blanton has been a road warrior and has picked up for Moyer’s struggles. If they use him, Blanton will surely provide solid innings for the Phillies.
As a team, the Rays hit .260 and are said to “practically define the Bill James concept of secondary average.” They hit for power, draw walks, and steal bases. In the American League, the Rays are known for having hit into the fewest double plays.
The Phillies have an excellent defense, which will cut down on the base hits, but the key is throwing plenty of strikes and consistency from each starting pitcher until they hand it over to their dominant bullpen.