Monday, October 26, 2009

Postseason Thoughts: LCS Wrapup and Mini-World Series Preview

When the postseason first began, I was hoping for a Yankees-Dodgers World Series (I realize I am totally playing into the media’s hands here, but I wanted it for different reasons than the media). I got the Yankees (and I mostly wanted them because I wasn’t that excited at the prospect of rooting for the Angels, and there was no way I was gonna root for the Twins or Red Sox), but damn it, I wanted the Dodgers in there. However, the team that led the National League in pitching (and had a decent enough offense) just never really looked like it against the Phillies. Just about everyone in what had been a very strong bullpen got touched up, and it seemed like every inning they were either walking a bunch of guys or giving up 3-run home runs. Vicente Padilla’s good run finally ran out at an inconvenient time for the Dodgers. Meanwhile, over in the ALCS, the Angels’ offense woke up for one game, but that’s it. Not even the hot-hitting Jeff Mathis could save them in game 6. But you have to wonder: How many times did the Yankees actually beat the Angels and how many times did the Angels, in fact, beat themselves? On a side note, I am shocked (but relieved) that CC Sabathia was declared MVP (Voted MVP? Who decides these things? No one seems to know) and not A-Rod.

And so now we have a Yankees-Phillies World Series matchup. And though I am quite literally the only Tigers fan doing this, I am rooting for the Yankees all the way because I don’t hate them and I can at least feel nostalgic. The Yankees are a better matchup against the Phillies than the Angels would have been, that is for sure. The starting pitching for both teams has been solid. Their bullpens have flip-flopped a little bit, though. The Yankees had the much stronger bullpen in the regular season, but in the postseason, they gave up a few runs to the Angels. The Phillies’ bullpen was virtually untouchable against the Dodgers (their relievers bent, but they didn’t break). Neither Mariano Rivera nor Brad Lidge has blown a save yet, which is significant given the fact that they are the only closers in the postseason not to have done so. The offense is a bit tricky to figure out. Of the eight postseason teams, only the Phillies have consistently hit with runners in scoring position (the ungodly numbers of three-run homers they’ve hit exemplify this). The Yankees, outside of a couple games, really haven’t. A lot of their offense has come from solo home runs and taking advantage of the numerous errors the Angels made (In fact, they went a stretch of over two games in the ALCS without getting a hit with a runner in scoring position). No one really talked about this because the Yankees won (though they did touch on Nick Swisher’s struggles by the end of the ALCS), but if these games against the Phillies feature both pitching staffs showing up, it may come back to haunt them. We will find out on Wednesday.

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