World Series Preview: Rays vs. Phillies

October 22, 2008 at 8:31 am 5 comments

(AP Photo)

Tampa Bay versus Philadelphia. That is a rivalry that has been around for over a decade ever since the Lightning (who played in the Thunderdome which is now the Trop) and Flyers had a physical postseason in 1996 in which the Tampa Bay almost upset the powerhouse Flyers in front of a record 28,183 fans. The rivalry between cities hit a high when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game in January of 2003 that the Eagles were favored to win. Oh yeah, it was the last game ever at Veteran’s Stadium. The Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl. The next season the Bucs were host to the Eagles in the first ever game at Lincoln Financial Field and the Bucs handed the Eagles another defeat. This Rays/Phillies series hopes to bring that city rivalry back to life. Here is a breakdown of how each team matches up:

Rotation – The Rays boast one of the best rotations in the game and their 4-man rotation in the playoffs has been dynamite. Scott Kazmir will get the ball against Cole Hamels in the first ever Rays World Series game and he deserves it. He is, in my opinon, the ace of this staff and he matches well agains the Phillies lineup, as do the rest of the Rays pitching staff. Game 2 will feature James Shields vs. Brett Myers, Game 3 is Matt Garza vs. Jamie Moyer, and Game 4 is Andy Sonnanstine vs. Joe Blanton. The Rays have the advantage in 3 of the 4 matchups and the one they trail in (Kazmir/Hamels) is a gap that can be closed easily. The Rays have the rotation advantage.

Bullpen – This is a close matchup here. The Phillies have arguably the best bullpen arm in Brad Lidge but he seems to be a little scared to pitch in the playoffs. The Phillies are also armed with Ryan Madson and lefty J.C. Romero. The Rays are deeper than the Phillies, though. They are armed with lefty David Price, flame thrower Grant Balfour (who had one of the 4 best seasons by a reliever ever), Dan Wheeler, J.P. Howell, and Chad Bradford. I have to give the slight edge to the Rays here.

Lineup – Another close call here. The Phillies lineup is powerful but misses a lot of balls and the ones they do put in play have had hard luck falling in for hits and that should continue since the Rays are possibly the best team at turning balls in play into outs. The Rays didn’t show the power in the regular season that they showed in the playoffs but I suspect with the ballparks and the pitching matchups that the power will continue. The Rays will also benefit when they hit in Philly by facing a pitcher. Another slight advantage to the Rays due to depth.

Defense – This one isn’t even close. The Rays don’t have a single average defender in their everyday lineup because they are all above-average and they have more plus defenders on the bench. The Phillies have Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, and Pedro Feliz as the only plus defenders with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino being average. Everyone else is average or below.

Coaching Staff – If I just went with managers here it would be a toss up. Both managers have done an amazing job and both will likely win manager of the year in thier respected leagues. I love Jimy Williams, the bench coach for the Phillies and Davely Lopes, the first base coach for the Phillies. The Rays have one of the best hitting coaches in the game in Steve Henderson and Tom Foley is as aggressive as they come at third base. This one is a toss-up.

Prediction – Rays in 6. The Rays are superior in almost every area and they lack in no area. They come from all angles and they should take this series in no more than 6 games.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Garza Pitched Like Smoltz Kazmir Was Unlucky in Game 1

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rick  |  October 22, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    I know you weren’t the one who wrote the article claiming that Balfour had one of the best seasons for a reliever ever, but since you cited it and appear to agree with it, I’ll have to voice my blatant disagreement.

    Here’s a few seasons that were also superior to Balfour’s ’08 season:

    Mariano Rivera- 2005, 2008
    Joe Nathan- 2008
    Mike Marshall- 1972, 1973, 1979
    Dennis Eckersley- 1990
    Trevor Hoffman- 1998
    Bruce Sutter- 1977
    Rollie Fingers- 1981
    Rich Gossage- 1977
    Jeff Montgomery- 1989

    And that’s just a small sample size. The barometers with which the guys on that Rays website used were very limited and just downright bad. Calling Balfour’s season one of the four best ever is unbelievably foolish and altogether completely inaccurate.

  • 2. Rick  |  October 22, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    By the way, I was basically in agreement with the rest of the article.

  • 3. Charlie Nehl  |  October 23, 2008 at 6:51 am

    I think the rays will loose two to Cole Hamels. He’s pitching that well right now. Assuming we see a game 5, Hamels could be the first pitcher EVER to win 5 starts in the postseason.

    Myers/Shields should be a good, well pitched game. Myers ended the season really strong, and Shields is a fairly consistant pitcher. Rays definatley have the advantage in the Moyers/Garza game. Finally it’s a toss up between Blanton and Sonnanstine. If we see post season Sonnanstine, I think the rays get it, and if we see the sometimes shaky Sonnanstine, the Phils get that. Blanton should have a decent knowledge of some of the Rays hitters.

    I, too, think the Rays will get this in 6 or 7. This will all depend on which Phillies hitters show up. And the Phils staff is way better than what the BoSox had in the playoffs.

  • 4. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  October 23, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Thanks Rick. I don’t necessarily agree 100% with the Balfour article but I do go by those same stats when valuing a reliever. Saves matter squat to me. If Balfour had those same numbers over more innings then I would 100% agree with them but in thier analysis they only requird 40 innings pitched and he came out 4th best. Again, saves are meaningless to me when it comes to valuing a reliever.

  • 5. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  October 23, 2008 at 7:30 am

    I still think the Rays can beat Hamels. Kazmir was very unlucky (I have a post in the works there) and Hamels got a few calls that Kazmir and other Rays pitchers didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Hamels is an ace and deserved the win last night but I think he is beatable.

    I love Shields against Myers who will have to face a full lineup that shows patience. Garza > Moyer. I also think Sonny is > than Blanton. Blanton was awful when in the AL West this season and Sonny was very good in the AL East but it is a close matchup if Blanton hits his spots.


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