Wednesday, November 04, 2009

World Series Game 6 Preview

Well, I figure I've been basically wrong about every other game of this World Series so far, so why not go ahead and make another prediction that only a jackass would follow with regard to Game 6 coming up Wednesday night in the Bronx. Game 6 pits Yankee ace and winningest postseason pitcher of all time in Andy Pettitte against another all-time pitching great in Pedro Martinez for the Phillies. The Series returns home for the Yankees, who already hold a 3 games to 2 edge in this best of 7 championship series, and as I mentioned they've got their all-time stopper on the mound in Andy Pettitte who has personally pitched the team to clinching five separate postseason series in his time on the mound for the Bombers. The Phils have had a couple of good games so far in the Series, but they've never quite been able to get everyone hitting at once in the series, and the pitching has not quite been able to hold the Yankees' power lineup at bay, at least not quite enough to hold on to any kind of a run advantage over the Yanks. So this one should be a clear clincher for the Yankees tonight then, right?

Wrong. I'm just not feeling it. It's hard to explain, but I just can't get over the fact that the Phillies are going to hit Andy Pettitte hard on Wednesday evening in the Bronx. As I've mentioned here many times over the past few weeks, this Phillies team -- World Champions that they are -- have shown a ton of heart, throughout this season and especially in the postseason. Although so far the series has been devoid of that special moment where the Phillies really rise up and make their greatness known, I can't shake this feeling that tonight we are going to see that moment.

Let's look a little deeper at that pitching matchup for a minute. Andy Pettitte has actually faced the Phillies now twice this season, once at each stadium. The Phils squared off against Pettitte at Yankee Stadium back on May 25, where Pettitte threw 114 pitches in giving up 4 earned runs in 7 innings, including two home runs to Raul Ibanez and the first-ever game for first baseman Jermaine Mayberry. Pettite fell behind 4-1 in the 5th inning and stayed behind 4-2 when he left the game in the 7th, and although he did not pitch terribly, the two homers and 5.2 ERA for the game were enough for him to leave the game knowing he got outpitched by rookie J. Happ of the Phils.

Pettitte also faced the Phillies on Halloween night just last week in Game 3 of the World Series, this time in Philadelphia. There, he threw 104 pitches in 6 innings, again giving up 4 earned runs and 2 homers, this time both monstrous shots to Jayson Werth, for a game ERA of 6.00, although this time he did leave the game with a 2-run lead thanks to his offense stepping up for him in the middle innings against embattled Phillies starter Cole Hamels.

And on Wednesday, Pettitte will face the Phillies a third time, this time back in New York with a chance to clinch the franchise's 27th world championship in front of the home town fans. But Pettitte will have to do so on three days' rest, something with which he is not nearly as comfortable as his colleague CC Sabathia in the Yankees' rotation. This will be the first time that the 37-year-old veteran pitches with just three days rest between outings since late September, 2006, when that arm was a much younger 34 years old. In 18 appearances on short rest in his illustrious career, Pettitte's numbers drop off dramatically: 5-7 with a 4.18 ERA, as compared to much better numbers over the rest of his career. What's more, Pettitte, now an old man by baseball standards, as well as an admitted steroid user who took "the cream" and "the clear" to help heal more quickly from injury but who no (presumably) longer has access to such miracle healing cures, has worked on an extra days' rest in his last eight starts, dating back to early September, and there's a reason for that: he needs it. At 37, his arm is old and used, just the kind of arm that the Phillies ought to be able to take advantage of on Wednesday in New York.

So, looking at all the stats, I think we can paint a reasonable prediction for what Pettitte will pitch like tonight. He was good for 7 innings against the Phils back in May in New York, and 6 innings against the Phillies' lineup in Game 3, and I see no reason to expect Pettitte to last any longer than 6 innings (at the outside) in Game 6 on short rest. What's more, he has given up two home runs and four total earned runs in each of his last two starts against the Phils -- again both on full or even extra rest -- and again tonight I can't see the Phils not at least equalling that feat and probably besting it slightly given the short time between Pettitte's starts. So for Game 6, a reasonable expectation based purely on the facts would have the Phillies scoring, say, 5 earned runs off of Pettitte in, say, six innings of work. Five runs.

The question is, what will the Yankees' run total be at the end of 6 when the Phils have had five men cross the plate? Will it be 5-0? Probably not. The 38-year-old Pedro Martinez was able to hold the Yankees to 3 earned runs in 6 innings in Game 2 of this World Series, and he has had not just the full four days of rest, but five days off since that Game 2 appearance. I still would expect the Yankees to hit him about as well as they did in Game 2, and possibly a little better, although Pedro on extra rest has pitched extremely well for the Phillies this season, and remember he is generally well-rested unlike a guy like Andy Pettitte because P-Mart didn't even play baseball until the middle of the summer this year. So Pedro should have the fresher arm, and Pettitte is likely going to be hit a little harder tonight in my view than the Phillies' starter is likely to be.

5-3 at the end of six tonight? 5-4? Or 5-5? It's going to be one of those, the way I see it. And then the Phillies' job, if they really want to extend this series one more game, is to get to the Yankees' middle relief -- which has performed atrociously all through this series -- without letting the Yankees get to theirs (which has also been pretty bad, but not quite as bad).

It's extremely hard to predict something like this with any precision of course, and as I mentioned above I have basically gotten every guess wrong in terms of individual games so far in the Series, so what do I know. But something tells me that you'll be reading here tomorrow about the anticipation and hype surrounding a Game 7 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night in New York City.

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Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Ahhh... the enduring game of hope for a Phillies fan. On the ropes, Pedro, 38, vs. Andy, 37. Two aging heavyweights in the twilight of their respective careers. Don't know who will "pitch" better - I suspect it will be more of the 12-10 type game you talk about, but the Yankees will close out the series tonight because it will come down to the bullpens.

2:24 AM  
Blogger DuggleBogey said...

'feelin it' yet?

9:54 AM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

LOL - maybe I was wrong... it'll be a 12-1 game...

9:56 AM  
Blogger VinNay said...

Let me be the first to say: 27-Time World Fucking Champions!!!!!

1:11 PM  

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