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200 Miles From the Citi


November 4, 2009 5:01 AM

THE CASE FOR THE PHILLIES

There aren't many Yankees fans I see on a day-to-day basis here in Massachusetts. Thus, I haven't been talking much to anyone who has an opinion on the Yankees' 3-man rotation.

So I'll offer mine - it's totally allowing the Phillies back into this World Series. And it might just cause the Yankees to blow their 3-games-to-1 lead.

(I know...if you rely on this space as your only source of sports news - and who doesn't? - you might be surprised to know there even was a World Series this year. But I've been keeping an eye on things. Not a close eye, mind you. But an eye nonetheless.)

Despite his 4-0 career record on short rest, I feel that starting A.J. Burnett on three days' rest was really a roll of the dice. He's inconsistent on regular rest, let alone when you blow up his routine. And I realize I have 20/20 hindsight...so let's start looking ahead.

I don't know that I can bet against Andy Pettitte in a series-clincher...but you also won't catch me betting on him on short rest at this stage of his career. The short rest probably won't affect C.C. Sabathia tremendously...but there are other factors at play if this series goes 7 - more on that in a minute. Let's look at Game 6.

Sure, Andy Pettitte could pitch well...but I think he will be out-performed by Pedro Martinez in Game 6. Pedro is all about drama...the big stage. Fired up in front of the Yankee Stadium crowd - combined with the fact that he's coming off a loss there less than a week ago. Throw in the fact that he can leave his career on the field if he has to, and he's going to be lights-out in Game 6. Think Sunday Night Baseball against the Mets - we're talking six-hit shutout type of stuff.

Which brings us to Game 7. The amount of pitches he's thrown on short rest after short rest could catch up to Sabathia...but until I see him fail in a big game I can't count him out. And Cole Hamels has done nothing but fail in the big games this year - but he's shown us in the past that he can show up...and I think he has something to prove after he was called out by teammate Brett Myers after some controversial comments he made.

I don't think the Game 7 starters factor into the decision at all though - I think it comes down to what had been the Phillies' weakness all along, but in Game 7 becomes their strength. They suddenly have all hands on deck out of the bullpen, including Cliff Lee. Sure, it's after only 2-days rest...but watch that guy pitch and tell me he won't be the first off the bench if need be. And Charlie Manuel, I'm sure, will have to think long and hard about passing up Lee for someone like Brad Lidge.

The Yankees will have Mariano Rivera and their solid relievers...but not their starters. And all of this doesn't even take into account that I think it's going to be Ryan Howard breaking out and turning himself into World Series MVP.

Yep. The Phillies are going to take the two games at Yankee Stadium and complete an improbable comeback. This World Series is just getting interesting. Phillies in 7.

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