Wednesday, October 22, 2008

MLB World Series 2008- Phillies vs. Rays

The World Series 2008 has finally arrived. The Philadelphia Phillies look to get their first World Series title since 1980 and the Tampa Bay Rays looks to go from the worst team in 2007 to the best team in 2008. The Series begins tonight on FOX at 8:35 PM.

Let's breakdown the teams (Note: all stats provided by Yahoo Sports):

NL Champion: Philadelphia Phillies (NL East champion, 92-70)
--How they got here: Won NLDS against Brewers 3-1, won NLCS against Dodgers 4-1
--How they did it: Solid starting pitching plus a shutdown bullpen

The Phillies barely survived getting into the playoffs, but ever since then they have taken this league by storm. Most people didn't think the Phillies had a chance against the upstart Dodgers, but they put LA away very quickly on the back of Cole Hamels. Now, rested and ready, the Phillies are looking good heading into their first World Series appearance since 1993. And Phillies fans know all about that.

The pitching: The strength of the team and what has carried them through the playoffs with a 3.19 ERA. Cole Hamels (pictured) has won all three of his playoff starts in convincing fashion, with 22 Ks and only 3 ER in 22 innings pitched. Joe Blanton also has done his job, with a 3.27 ERA in his two starts. Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer haven't fared as well. But the bullpen for Philadelphia is very strong. Brad Lidge has been revitalized this year. He still has not blown a save all year and has five in the playoffs with a 1.23 ERA. Add Ryan Madson, who has allowed just one run in nine innings of relief.

The batting: As a team, the Phillies are batting .259 during the World Series with 10 home runs. Ryan Howard (pictured), whose hot streak helped carry the Phillies into the playoffs, has yet to hit a home run in the postseason. But Philadelphia has found a huge player in Shane Victorino. Victorino was the Dodgers #1 enemy, and during the postseason has .281 with two homers and 11 RBIs, plus three stolen bases. Pat Burrell has shown his power with three homers and a .300 average. Players like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins will need to increase their production if the Phillies want a dangerous lineup.

AL Champion: Tampa Bay Rays (AL East Champion, 97-65)
--How they got here: Won ALDS against White Sox 3-1, won ALCS against Red Sox 4-3
--How they did it: Power hitting and clutch pitching

Everyone had this team down and out for the count after they lost a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th to Boston in Game 5. But like they always do, they just find a way to win thanks to using five pitchers in the top of the 8th in Game 7 to hold off a rally. Now Tampa Bay is gunning to complete the full circle, go from worst to first in their first ever World Series appearance.

The pitching: Though at times inconsistent, the Rays pitching has gotten the job done with a 3.52 ERA. The four main starters all have an ERA between 3.32 and 4.02. Ace Scott Kazmir (pictured) has the 4.02 ERA, but in his last start he had six shutout innings. Matt Garza has the 3.32 ERA but only allowed two runs in 13 innings against the Red Sox. The Rays bullpen is solid despite the letdown against the Red Sox in game 5. David Price might be unleashed after getting the key save in Game 7, plus Chad Bradford and J.P. Howell have been unhittable in the postseason. But, the bullpen will need to be more consistent if they want to win.

The batting: The Rays have seen a burst of power during the postseason, knocking 22 balls out of the park plus a .268 average. B.J. Upton has been inhuman, knocking out seven with a .304 average and 15 RBI. Evan Longoria (pictured) was a monster, hitting .262 with six dingers. On the basepaths, the veteran Carl Crawford has six stolen bases to compliment a .302 average. Other than Rocco Baldelli, the Rays lineup has been more effective than they have in the regular season, they just need to keep it up.

The prediction:
I don't buy the "rest is bad" thought process, but I do believe the Rays look great, and I see them with the slight edge. The Rays hitting overall is much more solid right now than the Phillies, who are still looking for Ryan Howard to wake up. If it comes to a close game, the Phillies bullpen will have the edge, but I do not see the Rays giving up too many leads with the overall starting pitching. Hamels wins his two games, but the Rays take the series.

Falco's prediction- Rays in 6, rooting for a good World Series
Windsor's prediction- Rays in 7, rooting for the Phillies
Expatriate's prediction- Rays in 6, rooting for the Phillies

Around the Harbor Predicted World Series Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

(Photo credits: (Rays, Phillies, World Series logo), SI (Hamels, Howard), NY Daily News (Kazmir), St. Petersburg Times (Longoria)


Tyler Radecki said...

It seems as though the Phillies get no love. Everyone is not only rooting for the Rays, but prediciting them. Should be a good series.

Falco said...

It's probably true that people underrate the Phillies, but I just think the Rays are better head-tohead with Philly. I love Hamels though, best starter in the series.